Friday, December 28, 2007

Waldo Community Library Young Professionals Book Club

This group will meet January 5, 2008 at 11 am @ The Roasterie Cafe located at 6223 Brookside Blvd. We will be discussing The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears by Dinaw Mengestu. RSVP's requested but not required.

Seventeen years ago, Sepha Stephanos fled the Ethiopian Revolution for a new start in the United States. Now he finds himself running a failing grocery store in a poor African-American section of Washington, D.C., his only companions two fellow African immigrants who share his bitter nostalgia and longing for his home continent. Years ago and worlds away Sepha could never have imagined a life of such isolation. As his environment begins to change, hope comes in the form of a friendship with new neighbors Judith and Naomi, a white woman and her biracial daughter. But when a series of racial incidents disturbs the community, Sepha may lose everything all over again.

Judging a book by it's cover

I really am reading a lot and after the awards are given next month I will have tons of books to recommend but for now, some more book humor to tide you over.

The Best (Worst) Fantasy & Science Fiction Book Covers

Judge a Book By It's Cover Blog

and from one of my favorite book blogs...Smart Bitches Who Love Trashy Books

Jaw-Dropping Covers

Thursday, December 27, 2007


In the past two years of serving on this book award committee I have read enough environmental nonfiction to convince me that we are bad, bad people who are killing the planet.

So, I have been making a conscious effort to start taking baby steps toward living in a more environmentally responsible way. To help me with this I have been reading several environmental blogs and have signed up for several newsletters. The Sierra Club puts out a newsletter/blog that you can either subscribe to or do as an RSS feed. Yesterday, the tip was something I can do on my cell phone (now permanently attached to me) and since I thought it was interesting I decided to share.

Be an informed eater: If you're torn between the trout and the halibut, text 30644 with the message "FISH" and the type you're considering to learn which is the more sustainable choice (

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Missouri Library News

News from Joplin, MO - Staff have been called terrorists, murderers and anit-Americans and to top things off one patron actually gave the circ staff the Nazi salute.

Newspaper link:

To see pictures of the display:

Sunday, December 23, 2007

This is so cool..

Or it is if you are a geek like me. Who knew about this and didn't tell me????

"Stanford on iTunes U provides access to a wide range of Stanford-related digital audio content via the iTunes Store, Apple’s popular online music, video, and podcast service.

The project includes two sites:
a public site which includes Stanford courses, faculty lectures, event highlights, music, sports, and more.

an access-restricted site for the Stanford community which includes:
CourseWork-linked iTunes U sites for course-based materials
Stanford Community iTunes U for the entire campus community."

I am downloading Patrick Hunt's Hannibal lectures for free as an after-award committee treat.

Book Count for today: 45 1/2

Save the easily offended: ban everything.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Cartoons for librarians and KC Blogger fun

I've been reading like crazy but since I can't talk about anything I am reading now (all nominees for a national book award) I decided to do another day of fun stuff.

A cartoon just for librarians...Unshelved

And because all the other KC Bloggers are doing it....

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The tagline for the Sony Reader is that it's "sexier than a librarian". Hmmmm.....

Just for fun....

Discover Your Inner Librarian

Do some good...


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Case Of Denial

I must have been in denial the other day when I told a friend that I only had 40 more books left to read before January 11th.. I counted last night and there are 48 sitting on my shelf, waiting for me to pick them up. Granted, I did finish up two 750+ pagers but still...

Something tells me I should have taken more than three days off in January to finish up my reading.

Friday, December 14, 2007

A Hipper Crowd of Shushers

A customer just brought this in for me because he said it sounded like me (without the tattoo's). Not sure I am the demographic they are really talking about but it was sweet anyway.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Terry Pratchett

In my non-Notable reading years I am a bit of an SF geek. I particularly like Space Opera, cyber-punk and anything that has humor. One of my favorites is Terry Pratchett. For those of us who are fans, this is very sad news....taken from If you haven't read anything by him, I strongly encourage you to try one of his Discworld books.


I would have liked to keep this one quiet for a little while, but because of upcoming conventions and of course the need to keep my publishers informed, it seems to me unfair to withhold the news. I have been diagnosed with a very rare form of early onset Alzheimer's, which lay behind this year's phantom "stroke".

We are taking it fairly philosophically down here and possibly with a mild optimism. For now work is continuing on the completion of Nation and the basic notes are already being laid down for Unseen Academicals. All other things being equal, I expect to meet most current and, as far as possible, future commitments but will discuss things with the various organisers. Frankly, I would prefer it if people kept things cheerful, because I think there's time for at least a few more books yet :o)

Terry Pratchett

PS I would just like to draw attention to everyone reading the above that this should be interpreted as 'I am not dead'. I will, of course, be dead at some future point, as will everybody else. For me, this maybe further off than you think - it's too soon to tell.I know it's a very human thing to say "Is there anything I can do", but in this case I would only entertain offers from very high-end experts in brain chemistry.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I wondered how long it would take for this to start....

Golden Compass needles Oshkosh

At least one school in the Oshkosh, Wisconsin, area has temporarily pulled the novel The Golden Compass from its library shelves over concerns about what critics call its “anti-Christian message.” Mary Miller, media specialist at St. John Neumann Middle School and Lourdes High School, said she has taken the series off the shelf at the shared school library because she wants to have a chance to read them and decide for herself if they are appropriate for students....

Oshkosh (Wis.) Northwestern, Dec. 7

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Some favorite titles as I have been ordering books...

Get Stuffed: 24 Projects for the Bereaved Pet Owner by Chuck Iglesias

The Virgin Bride said “Wow” by Cathy Gillen Thacker - (this may be my all-time favorite)

How to Be Pope: What to Do and Where to Go Once You're in the Vatican by Piers Marchant

People Who Don't Know They're Dead: How They Attach Themselves To Unsuspecting bystanders and what to do about it by Gary Leon Hill

The Beginner's Guide to Sex in the Afterlife by David Staume

Knitting With Dog Hair: Better A Sweater From A Dog You Know and Love Than From A Sheep You'll Never Meet by Kendall Crolius

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Friday, December 07, 2007

What religion are you?

This isn't goofing off at work, this is called "researching" useful websites.

The top score on the list below represents the faith that Belief-O-Matic, in its less than infinite wisdom, thinks most closely matches your beliefs. However, even a score of 100% does not mean that your views are all shared by this faith, or vice versa.

Belief-O-Matic then lists another 26 faiths in order of how much they have in common with your professed beliefs. The higher a faith appears on this list, the more closely it aligns with your thinking. Take the test -

1. Liberal Quakers (100%)
2. Unitarian Universalism (100%)
3. Neo-Pagan (98%)
4. New Age (94%)
5. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (87%)
6. Secular Humanism (84%)
7. Mahayana Buddhism (79%)
8. Reform Judaism (76%)
9. Taoism (69%)
10. Bahá'í Faith (67%)
11. Theravada Buddhism (67%)
12. New Thought (66%)
13. Scientology (60%)
14. Christian Science (Church of Christ, Scientist) (52%)
15. Orthodox Quaker (52%)
16. Nontheist (51%)
17. Sikhism (50%)
18. Jainism (44%)
19. Orthodox Judaism (41%)
20. Hinduism (36%)
21. Islam (31%)
22. Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant (31%)
23. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) (30%)
24. Eastern Orthodox (22%)
25. Roman Catholic (22%)
26. Seventh Day Adventist (22%)
27. Jehovah's Witness (9%)

Wednesday, December 05, 2007


I may have mentioned this already but I LOVE Venice. On a scale of 1 to 10, I would marry Venice. In other words, I really, really liked it there. It may have helped that I went prepared to love it there but it had the vibe that all of my favorite cities have. A laid back energy, not pushy, just doing it's thing, waiting for you to fall in love with it.

View of the tiny island where we stayed (from inside the boat)

A picture of Venice from another boat. Yes, much to my friend's dismay there was a whole lot of boat riding in this city.

The buses are boats, the taxis are boats...well, you get the idea. This city might not be the best destination for someone like my friend who gets motion sick when just walking along. She was a good sport however.

The first day was the most fun.

We visited the small museum, wandered around aimlessly, bought our Venetian masks (mine is very pretty) and eventually ate Italian food (not Venetian food) and headed back to the hotel.

The countdown begins!

55 1/2 more books to go before January 10th. No panic here:)

Monday, December 03, 2007

The next month or so...

For the next month I will be reading frantically and cannot talk about what I am reading...which tends to cut down on my blog post options. I will probably not be posting much about books (although I have saved back a few book reviews because I knew this was coming). Anyway there will be a few more book posts, a couple more vacation blogs and on January 14th I will put up a list of the winners of the ALA Notable Book Council selections.

In the meantime, have a safe and happy holiday season.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Paris: The Final Chapter

I really liked the Musée d'Orsay but I LOVED the Musee Rodin, which makes sense because he is one of my favorite sculptors. It was also one of the most well designed and focused museums I have ever seen, housed in Rodin's house. Oh, and one of my favorite authors was his secretary for a while.

As an aside, in the book of essays I just read it talked about distinguishing the literature from the man (or woman) author. I believe it is the same with art. I don't have to like the sculptor to recognize the genius of his work. (He wasn't the kindest man around.)

Anyway, here are a few of my favorite pieces...

For some reason, I can't find this on the museum website so I can't tell you the name of the piece.

The Thinker

And what could be more charming than a whole group of art students sketching The Thinker?

Friday, November 30, 2007

Blogging and the Law

I found this handy dandy little list of US Laws that affect blogs and bloggers and thought I would share it.

Thursday, November 29, 2007


It was a dark and gloomy day when we journeyed out to Versailles. By the end of the day, we agreed on two things.

1) We were darn cold and needed a hot toddy

2) Based on how sparkly everything at Versailles was if we had been peasants we would have been pretty pissed at the royals too.

The entrance to Versailles

The hall of mirrors. Apparently mirrors were wildly expensive so this room was built to show off how insanely rich the King was.

Marie Antoinette's bedchamber. Fun fact...when Marie was in labor and giving birth to the heir, her entire court was present. Doesn't that sound fun?

I have no idea what this has to do with Versailles but I liked the picture

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

At Large And At Small: Familiar Essays by Anne Fadiman

I just finished At Large And At Small: Familiar Essays by Anne Fadiman. Familiar essays were made popular by British gentlemen as they expounded on widely divergent areas of interest but have largely fallen out of favor in recent years. Since I have tended to favor essays by authors writing on a "theme" I was a bit unsure of how much I would like this book. The first essay did not give me much hope. The author talked about her early childhood obsession with butterfly collecting. In spite of a favorite uncle being an enthusiast, this has never been a topic near and dear to my heart so I finished this essay with a bit of dismay since I was really hoping for something a bit less grisly. Three essays in, my patience was rewarded. Yes, she talked about a subject that is an ongoing obsession in my life....ICE CREAM! What could be better? After that, her essays became much more relevant to my life, subjects such as being a night owl in a world of early birds, etc...

I highly enjoyed most of the essays in this small book and would recommend it for others who like to ponder...well, everything.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Anyone want to go to New York?

I got this email today. Anyone want to go?

Dear Poetry Lovers,

If you're in New York City on Thursday, November 29th, 2007, don't miss a special 80th birthday tribute and reading featuring Philip Levine with Kate Daniels, E.L. Doctorow, Edward Hirsch, Galway Kinnell, Yusuf Komunyakaa, Malena Mörling, Sharon Olds, Tom Sleigh, Gerald Stern, Jean Valentine and Charles Wright.

Philip Levine was born in Detroit and is the author of 16 collections of poetry, most recently Breath. His other books include The Simple Truth, which won the Pulitzer Prize; What Work Is, which won the National Book Award; The Names of the Lost; Ashes: Poems New and Old and 7 Years From Somewhere, both of which won the National Book Critics Circle Award. He is the distinguished Poet-in-Residence in the Creative Writing Program at NYU.

Co-sponsored with the 92nd Street Y Unterberg Poetry Center, The New York University Creative Writing Program, the Academy of American Poets, Cave Canem Foundation, Cooper Union, Alfred A. Knopf, Poets House, Poetry Society of America, and Poets & Writers.

Hope to see you there!

Philip Levine 80th Birthday Tribute
Thursday, November 29th, 7:00pm
Great Hall, Cooper Union, East 7th Street

Free and Open to the Public

Varieties Of Disturbance: Stories by Lydia Davis

Last night I fell in love...with a new author. Lydia Davis is unlike anyone I have read before so I can't say "if you like this author (or that author) you will like Lydia". Her short story collection breaks all the rules, there is not an action packed plot in the bunch and yet, it all works together. I am completely blown away by her work and I plan to read the rest of her work in the very near future.

In the past year I have really come to appreciate the skill it takes to pull together a well done short story collection and some of my "favorite" work has been this type of literature.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Loving Frank: A Novel by Nancy Horan

This is a fictionalized account of the life of Mamah Borthwick Cheney. I was unaware that Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah had an affair and left their respective families to live together during a time when that was just "not done" so this was a very novel interesting from that perspective. I have to admit that I did find Frank a bit overbearing and personally not very appealing but in spite of (or maybe because of this) the book was extremely interesting and engaging.

The name of the novel it is not so much a romance as Mamah's struggle to try to live an authentic life as an independent educated woman. Of course, the facts get in the way of a satisfying conclusion to this quest but that is often the way real life is. Interesting and highly recommended for historical fiction fans.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

An evening in Paris

After the art museums we trekked over to the Eiffel Tower.

One look at the long line convinced us that perhaps it was not worth the trip to the top so we called my friend's husband (who had made it up there) and he said not to bother. We decided instead to make our way to the "best view of the Eiffel Tower" according to the guidebook.

Here I am at the esplanade du Trocadero (AKA: the best view of the Eiffel Tower in Paris).

After all that walking we went in search of food again and then just walked around enjoying Paris at night. We eventually ended up at the Arc de Triomphe. We got additional exercise by climb to the top so that we could see the whole city at night.

It is a really long climb to the top but the view was worth it.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Red Parts: A Memoir by Maggie Nelson

In 1969, Maggie Nelson's aunt was murdered. Her death was linked to the infamous "Michigan Murders" and her killer was never found...until recently. As Maggie, a poet, was just releasing a book of poetry about her aunt and the murder, new DNA evidence was found link a retired nurse to the killing. Maggie and her mother attend the trial each day in order to bear witness.

In the end, however, there was little sense of release and closure since questions are left unanswered and ambiguity remains. In fact, Maggie's family remains unconvinced that justice has been served. In reality this book is less about the crime than how it has shaped an entire family's world.

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

Oscar, a first-generation Dominican-American, has bad luck. In fact, he has become the heir to 500 years of fuku (bad luck). This smart, lovable, unattractive and doomed protagonist is seen through the eyes of his sister, his mother and a family friend. This cutting edge (can you tell I like that phrase) novel is a sad, funny, rich portrait of a complex boy and a complex culture.

Warning: there is quite a bit of profanity in this novel so it is not for everyone but I thoroughly enjoyed it and recommend it for anyone looking for something a little different.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Cool website of the day

A couple of days ago I found this fun website called A Very Short List.

If you subscribe to their email service, you can receive "the very short, very free daily e-mail that uncovers excellent, under-hyped things to see, read, and hear five days a week."

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Guardians by Ana Castillo

The Guardians is a story of life on the border. Regina, a legal US citizen, is caring for her nephew, who is not legal. When the story opens her brother has been missing, presumed lost somewhere in "coyote" country. Coyotes referring to the people who prey on illegal immigrants selling them safe (sometimes) passage into the US. As she and another teacher confront the coyotes, they also fight to protect their families. Adding to the ever present threat of violence is Rafe, an intensely religious teen, who has befriended and is trying to help several gang members with mixed results.

No matter what you think about the immigration issue, this is a well written tale that shows how difficult it is to be an illegal in today's world. Heartbreaking and effective.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Science vs. Pseudoscience


*Phillips, Gary W., PhD. “Chance Favors the Prepared Mind: Mathematics and Science Indicators from Comparing States and Nations.” American Institutes for Research. 14 Nov 2007. American Institutes for Research. 18 Nov 2007

From David Warlick's blog 2¢ Worth:

According to the National Science Foundation (NSF,, the average U.S. citizen understands very little science. For example:

- 66% do not understand DNA, “margin of error,” the scientific process, and do not believe in evolution.
- 50% do not know how long it takes the earth to go around the sun, and a quarter does not even know that the earth goes around the sun.
- 50% think humans coexisted with dinosaurs and believe antibiotics kill viruses.

On the other hand, according to the NSF, the general public believes in a lot of pseudoscience.

- 88% believe in alternative medicine.
- 50% believe in extrasensory perception and faith healing.
- 40% believe in haunted houses and demonic possession.
- 33% believes in lucky numbers, ghosts, telepathy, clairvoyance, astrology, and that UFOs are aliens from space.
- 25% believes in witches and that we can communicate with the dead. *

Monday, November 19, 2007

Paris - Day 2, Part 1

Welcome to Museum Day in Paris. We started our day at the Louvre (I really think it should be spelled Louve but for accuracy sake I will do the "real" spelling.) This museum was "opened to all since 1793" and according to the website has over 6 million visitors per year most of which were there the day we visited. Because we got up bright and early (a major problem when traveling with a morning person) we didn't have to wait in line to enter the museum but we didn't plan as well once we got inside.

We made the mistake of going to the Napoleon III Apartments first. It was interesting and ornate and very sparkly and I because I follow the rules and obeyed the signs I didn't take any pictures. (By the way, there was a tiny painting of a woman reading in his apartments that I fell in love with, so if someone else is going to be there soon, could you stop by and pick that up for me?)

We then decided to headed over to see the Mona Lisa because you cannot go to the Louvre and not see the Mona Lisa. Someone (not mentioning any names) did take a picture although she was just trying to get the crowds, not the painting and heck, every other person in the place had their camera out snapping away. For someone who is short and midwestern, it was very difficult to bulldoze my way to the front so I politely stood in line to see Miss Mona. We really should have made a beeline for her the second we hit the door, before the other 5 million people got there, but who knew?

There she is...that little picture in the middle of the frame. (Photo courtesy of Gretchen)

Believe it or not, this is not actually my favorite way to view art so we did a quick run through of a few more galleries and then headed to my favorite cafe (much more enjoyable now that my friend wasn't feeling puny) and then on to the Musée d'Orsay

which I viewed in a very orderly fashion. I visited each and every room and saw every single thing in the place. May I just say that I loved this museum.

Here is one of my favorite sculptures in the museum. It represents Balzac and was done by Rodin. When it came out the critics rejected it so Rodin repaid the Société his commission and moved the figure to his garden. Stupid critics.

Of course, no visit would be complete without stopping by to see Whistler's Mother. I found some new artists to love. One new favorite was Sisley. I just can't get enough of those Impressionists. Next blog - Part 2: Or Visiting the Eiffel Tower.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Shortcomings by Adrian Tomine

We didn't have very many graphic novels on the list to consider this year. Here is my favorite of the bunch mainly because the artwork fit the text perfectly. It added layers to the story BUT (and this is the important part)...if the artwork or the text went away, the other could function independently. This is the mark of a great graphic novel. The whole is more than the sum of the parts but each part is complete.

This is the story of a Chinese American 20-something who is struggling with his desire to be the same as "other Americans" vs pressure from his community to retain his identity and heritage. Very well done and complete.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Brother, I’m Dying by Edwidge Danticat

The tale of two brothers, one in the United States, one in Haiti, is ultimately the gift from a daughter to her father. This remarkable story tells of the divergent paths the author’s father and brother journey down, impacted by their chosen country’s choices and changing fortunes. This is the quintessential immigrant story of love and exile and always present is respect for each man and the choices they made.

Today I am Gandhi

Friday, November 16, 2007

Friday fun

Once again, all the cool kids are doing this so how could I resist.

I took this "test" last year and came up with the same results. Maybe I really am a saint:)

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Here I am in Paris....See, proof. There is the Eiffel Tower in the background and everything.

Day one...after a bit more traveling time than we had planned for we ran out and grabbed lunch so my friend wouldn't gnaw my arm off and then we headed down to do a little sightseeing. Because we got there a little later than anticipated we decided to try doing the guidebook suggestion of the evening tour of historic sites. We walked down the Right and Left bank and did some picture taking and sightseeing. Since we knew that Notre Dame Cathedral was open we decided to head down there.

Pretty, isn't it?

The architecture is done in the Early French Gothic style and personifies the French Art style (I know this because I just looked it up) and was built between 1163 and 1250. While I was visiting I looked for the Hunchback could not find him, which was a disappointment.

After we left there, my friend started to feel a bit unwell so we stopped at what turned out to be my favorite cafe for that entire trip so that my friend could try to get her second wind. That didn't happen but I had a nice cup of tea and a pastry (oh, who am I kidding, I had chocolate cake) and we headed back to the hotel so she could recover. This is the portion of the trip where I got to read about Iggy Pop's enormous "endowments" way too many times. (In case you are wondering, the new Iggy Pop bio wasn't a favorite of mine.) It was good I got the extra rest because day 2 was our museum marathon day which you will hear all about in the next blog.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The God of Animals: A Novel by Aryn Kyle

The Winston family is falling apart. The mother handed over baby Alice to her older sister and retreated to her bedroom where she has stayed for twelve years and Alice’s father is a harsh and distant man, choosing to fill his life with his livelihood, training horses and giving riding lesssons.. Alice is set adrift when her sister runs away to marry a rodeo rider and she seeks to fill the void by trying to gain the attention of her father, classmates and a teacher, with unexpected results. This is a lyrical coming-of-age novel with beautifully descriptive landscapes, alienated individuals and lives filled with tragedy.

PS....This was one of those stories that at some point gripped me and by the end I couldn't put it down. I found myself sobbing uncontrollably at the crisis point in the story so pick this up with the warning, "this book may break your heart".

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Back to Switzerland

The next day was spent recovering from Oktoberfest, doing laundry and packing for the trip to Paris. I also finished up my mystery set in Venice. No, that wasn't the only research I did for the trip but it was the most fun. On one of my nights in Switzerland we did fondue night. We also met with Gretchen's Zurich women bloggers group which was great fun and involved martinis.

Back to fondue....When I was growing up, one of my best friends had a birthday the day after mine. Mine is January 6th and is coming up fast, in case anyone needs the reminder. Anyway, living in a small town, we had a joint birthday party in which all the girls in my class were invited to attend and sleepover. Our parents took turns hosting. My Mom was taking cake decorating class so every other year we would have an elaborately decorated cake or two...I miss birthday cake. On Christy's year her stepmom would make fondue so I am very sentimental about fondue and was really looking forward to the whole Swiss Fondue experience. (Our other yearly tradition included the class "fight" when two people at the party would get in a fight and everyone else would take sides. Typical party behavior for pre-teen girls.)

The fondue recipe that we followed in Switzerland was not one of the recipes that my friend's stepmom used because the one we used in Switzerland included a whole lot of liquor. In fact, there was some agreement among the three of us that perhaps the measurements were a bit off because I am pretty sure we got a little tipsy from the fondue. We didn't follow this recipe exactly but this is pretty close to the one that we used.

Classic Cheese Fondue

1/2 lb Emnenthaler Cheese (shredded)

1/2 lb Gruyeye (shredded)

1 clove Garlic

2 cups Dry White Wine

3 tbs Kirsch

Rub the inside of the fondue pot with the garlic clove - add clove to pot or disregard

Heat up the White Wine & Lemon Juice - should be hot but do not boil

Reduce heat to low and slowly add cheese while stirring

Slowly add remainder of ingredients while stirring

If fondue is too loose add more cheese

If fondue is too stiff add more wine

To Dip:

Italian Bread (or any crusty bread) cut into bite-sized cubes

Vegetables - Broccoli, Cauliflower, Bell Peppers, etc., Apples

Monday, November 12, 2007


The hot history book of the year is The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944 by Rick Atkinson. This bad boy weighs in at a hefty 588 pages with an additional 150 or so pages of end notes. For you history buffs, run don't walk to your local library to check out a copy. For the rest of you non-history buffs this may be a little overwhelming.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall

One of my favorite movies is Memento in which, every morning the main character awakes to find he has no memory. He resorts to notes and even tattoos to try to solve the question of his existence and to solve a murder. When I started The Raw Shark Texts I thought that this was heading down a similar road with the main character receiving daily letters from "Eric Sanderson #1" to help him navigate his life. It turns into something completely different with the introduction of a conceptual shark who is wiping his mind of memory over and over again. Once he hooks up with Scout also on the run from her own metaphysical predator things get really weird.

This was one of the more inventive books that I have read in recent years and I was highly entertained. If you are into experimental literature you may really enjoy this.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Munich: The Day After Oktoberfest

The next day we visited many lovely sites in Munich.

This is the home of the world's biggest Glockenspiel. You can't really see it but trust me, it's up there.

Lovely outdoor places.

Ornate Catholic churches. No glimpse of Martin though which was sad for a Lutheran. Apparently this part of Germany stayed Catholic.

Some really pretty buildings like Neu Rathaus (New City Hall).

And the famous Munich Maypole. Trust me, people couldn't stop talking about it at Oktoberfest. Apparently it was stolen and then ransomed back to the people of Munich for a box (in perpetuity) at Oktoberfest. This feat, instead of being looked at as larceny, is talked about with awe and admiration. An odd thing since the people of Germany are a big believer in making and enforcing laws, rules, suggestions....

All-in-all, it was a good little side trip. I got to party with my people, I wasn't the one to get her face licked or slobbered on (thank you Donna for taking one for the team) and I saw many pretty things. Next time I go back I will have to schedule in more than one day.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Yep. I talks real good

KC Blogging fun at it's finest. Check out my KC blogger friends reading levels and find the one that fits you:)

cash advance

Cash Advance Loans

Thursday, November 08, 2007

The Welsh Girl by Peter Ho Davies

I feel like I have already read this story and I don't know why. I don't think I have read any of the author's other work and am wondering if he took one of his short stories and expanded it. I may never know but it did feel like a deja vu moment for me.

Having said that, it was a good book. Set in Wales during WWII, a camp is set up for prisoners-of-war. The main character has surrendered on behalf of his regiment and becomes the symbol for all of the frustration that the other prisoners feel about their captivity. A young girl falls in love with a English soldier who abandons her, proving once again that the Welsh cannot trust this closest of ally. The two form an unlikely friendship and issues such as loyalty to country, to family and to self are explored.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Refresh, Refresh: Stories by Benjamin Percy

This is another one of those stories that I can appreciate for it's technical skill but didn't really enjoy reading. The stories were tied together by blood. Blood from hunting, from murder, from miscarriage. Well, you get the point. I always read with an eye toward recommendation because that is, after all, my job. I just couldn't figure out who I could give this to and say, read this, you will love it.

That being said, this is an excellent short story author and I am sure that we will be seeing more of his work in the future.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

New Orleans and Beignet

One of my friends just got back from one of my top ten cities. I love New Orleans. I would go every year if I could.

The last time I went was a year or so after the Hurricane so I am anxious to find out how her trip was. Anyway, on her blog Kansas City Daily Photo she did a post about beignet and I started to comment but the comment got longer than her post. At that point I realized that I too have a blog and could actually write about beignet to my heart's content:)

The first time I visited NOLA I fell in love with beignet, after all, who doesn't love fried bread? OK, there are a few health freaks out there who "say" that it doesn't taste good to them but I say pooh on them! So, I did the research and now can make perfect beignet. It actually isn't that hard now that every specialty food store in KC sells the one and only Cafe DuMonde beignet mix. (I can do it from scratch too, but why bother?) The only thing I am lacking is a Fry Baby although an old pan works great. Since I am generous I will share my secret recipe with the world by directing you to the official Cafe DuMonde website

I am so jealous of my friend. Hmmmm....maybe she wants to go back with me for my 40th?

Monday, November 05, 2007


Ahhh, Oktoberfest. What can one say about Oktoberfest? First of all, it is not just a matter of showing up at Oktoberfest and ordering a beer. No, you have to be invited into a tent (in other words, you have to know someone). Luckily, my friends had a friend who knew someone who has been going to Oktoberfest for years. So after traveling and resting up for the event

Donna entered the picture. Ignore Tom, the guy in the picture with her. His story is later.

Now, in case you are wondering, this is what happens to expats who live in Munich for just a little too long...

Anyway, Donna was able to get us into not only a tent, but the "best" tent at Oktoberfest. The Augustiner tent, apparently home of the oldest German brewer (or so I hear)

where we joined the beer drinking masses, quite a few of them Italian since it was Italian weekend at Oktoberfest.

After a few beers, we loosened up...

and started to get into the swing of things...some of us more than others although I am not mentioning any names. I am not sure about my non-drinking friend but I had a great time even though the pesky men kept accusing me of not keeping up and stole my beer every time I wasn't looking. I guess since they bought it in the first place, that was only fair.

Next we will visit the lovely city of Munich. (Thanks to Gretchen for the loan of the lovely picture of Tom and some German guy.)

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Five Skies by Ron Carlson

Darwin Gallegos hires drifters Arthur Key and Ronnie Panelli to work on a secret project, a motorcycle ramp to be used for a daredevil jump across a gorge. As the three men spend their days working together in the isolated wilderness each will be tested, their wounds exposed and each will be changed in significant ways. This writer excels at spare, precise writing that is perfectly showcased in this small novel.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Song Before It Is Sung by Justin Cartwright

This novel was based on the true life cases of Adam Van Trott and Isaiah Berlin and the events of 1944 when a serious attempt was made on the life of Adolf Hitler by members of the German "upper class". This is a profoundly disturbing look at that time period (fictionalized, of course) and how a friendship was irrevocably changed by these events. As so often happens with books focused on war, I couldn't say that I enjoyed this novel but it was a novel to make you think. Highly recommended for those of you who enjoy historical fiction set during WWII.

Friday, November 02, 2007

When A Crocodile Eats The Sun by Peter Godwin

When A Crocodile Eats The Sun is a memoir that illuminates Peter Godwin's relationship with his parents (particularly his father), his native country (Zimbabwe) and his horror at witnessing his parents struggle during the collapse of its democracy and economy. Exceptional writing and compelling story.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Bow Grip by Ivan E. Coyote

Bow Grip was my favorite book in the giant stack I dragged around Europe.

It was a story of that moment when your life turns, you suddenly start seeing things in a completely different way and everything changes. The main character, Joey, drifts along in a funk after his divorce and, at the urging of family, friends...he takes off to deliver the last of his ex-wife's possessions to her and her new lover. Along the way, he also acquires a group of friends, a cello (a favorite instrument of mine), starts taking lessons and finds a whole new passion in his life. This was just a great, feel good story and I loved everything about it.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

I Am A Strange Loop by Douglas R. Hofstadter

For those of you who are just joining me, yesterday's booklist is not what I still have left to read this year. This is the list of what I could potentially have to read this year. All of the books that have been nominated (that I haven't read yet) and all of the books that have been suggested but not nominated or withdrawn are on this list. So just because a book isn't on the list doesn't mean it isn't under consideration. After all, I might have already read it. Looking through my book reviews might not help you figure it out either because sadly, I am a little behind on my posting.

I did finish I Am A Strange Loop but it was pretty slow going. The quantum physics didn't help me zip through it. It was incredibly interesting and if I didn't have a huge stack of books still waiting to be read I would have really sat down and read this more thoroughly so that I really understood what the author was saying. Unfortunately, this is not a book to read when you are in a reading time crunch but I recommend it for anyone who is interested in the nature of consciousness.

Castle Day

Zug was the prettiest little city and the best thing about it was that IT HAD A CASTLE and a charming one at that. Granted it was a small castle, but in my opinion, a castle is a castle.

See. It just oozes charm now doesn't it? Seriously, this is one charming city. They can afford to be charming. Really. According to the official Switzerland travel site....The town of ZUG (pronounced tsoogk), 22km from Luzern on the north side of the Rigi, is the richest place in Switzerland, which makes it very rich indeed.

Even the library is a charming building from the 15th century.

And yes, I am a big geek who runs around taking pictures of libraries. Sue me, I like libraries.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

My newly updated booklist

112 Mercer Street - Feldman, Burton
20th Century Ghosts - Hill, Joe
A concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers - Guo, Xiaolu
A Crack in the Earth - Watzman, Haim
A Free Life - Jin, Ha
A Hatred for Tulips - Louirie, Richard
A New Hunger - Bosselaar, Laure-Anne
A Peculiar Grace - Lent, Jeffrey
A Thief Of Strings - Revell, Donald
A Thousand Deaths - Effinger, George Alec
A Thousand Splendid Suns - Hosseini, Khaled
A Worldly Country: New Poems - Ashbery, John
ABC -Plante, David
Afterwards - Seiffert, Rachel
Against the Day - Pynchon, Thomas
Agent Zigzag - Macintyre, Ben
American Creation: Triumphs and Tragedies at the Founding of the Republic - Ellis, Joseph J
Amerigo - Fernandez-Armesto, Felipe
An Absolute Gentleman - Kinder, RM
An Arsonist's Guide To Writer's Homes In New England: A Novel- Brock, Clarke
An Ocean of Air: Why the Wind Blows and Other Mysteries of the Atmosphere - Walker, Gabrielle
Anxious Music - Ossmann, April
Archivist's Story -Holland, Travis
Arlington Park - Cusk, Rachael
At Large and at Small - Fadiman, Anne
Away - Bloom, Amy
Backpacker's Father - Kopperud, Gunnar
Balance - McCredie, Scott
Be Near Me - O'Hagan, Andrew
Berlin Wall: A World Divided, 1961-1989 - Taylor, Frederick
Blackbird and Wolf - Cole, Henri
Blind Submission - Ginsberg, Debra
Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures - Lam, Vincent
Bowl of Cherries - Kaufman, Millard
Breakfast with Buddha - Merullo, Roland
Bridge of Sighs- Russo, Richard
Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao - Diaz, Junot
Brother, I'm Dying - Danticat, Edwidge
Bucolics - Manning, Maurice
Caspian Rain - Nahai, Gina B.
Chance and Circumstance - Brown, Carolyn
Chasing Kangaroos - Flannery, Tim
Cheating at Canasta -Trevor, William
Cion - Mda, Zakes
Cloud Moving Hands - Song, Cathy
Complete Stories-Malouf, David
Consequences - Lively ,Penelope
Consumption - Patterson, Kevin
Contested Waters: a History of America's Swimming Pools - Wiltse, Jeff
Crashing Through: a story of risk, adventure, and the man who dared to see - Kurson, Robert
Cult of the Amateur-Keen, Andrew
Day the World Ended at Little Bighorn: A Lakota History - Marshall, Joseph M
Dead Boys: Stories - Lange, Richard
Death in a Prairie House - Drennan, William R.
DeNiro's Game - Hage,Rawi
Divisadero - Ondaatje, Michael
Dog Years - Doty, Mark
Down the Nile: Alone in a Fisherman's Skiff - Mahoney, Rosemary
Dropped From Heaven: Stories - Judah, Sophie
Einstein- Isaacson, Walter
Elegy - Bang, Mary Jo
Endless Universe - Steinhardt, Paul
Eureka - Lehrer, Jim
Exit Ghost- Roth, Phillip
Feast: Why Humans Share Food - Jones, Martin
Fieldwork - Berlinski, Mischa
Fire in the Blood - Nemirovsky, Irene
First Among Sequels - Fforder, Jasper
Flower Confidential: The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful In the Business of Flowers -Stewart, Amy
Fly Me to the Moon - Belbruno, Edward
For Liberty and Glory - Gaines, James R.
Foreskin's Lament:a Memoir - Auslander, Shalom
Fragment of the Head of a Queen - Marvin, Cate
From the Palmer Raids to the Patriot Act: a history of the fight for free speech in America - Finan, Christopher
Ghost - Lightman, Alan
Ghosts of Spain: Travels through Spain and its slent past -Tremlett, Giles
Ghostwalk -Stott, Rebecca
Giving: How each of us can change the world - Clinton, Bill
Grey - Armstrong, Jon
Gulf Music- Pinsky, Robert
Gum Thief - Coupland,Douglas
Happy Accidents -Meyers, Morton
Harriet Tubman: Imagining A Life - Lowry, Beverly
Heart Like Water: Surviving Katrina and Life in Its Disaster Zone - Clark, Joshua
Heartsick - Cain, Chelsea
Horse Latitudes - Muldoon, Paul
If Today Be Sweet - Umrigar, Thrity
I'll Sleep When I'm Dead - Zevon, Crystal
In a Prominent Bar in Seacaucus - Kennedy, X.J.
In Europe - Mak, Geert
In Her Absence - Molina, Antonio Munoz
In the Country of Men - Matar, Hisham
In the Driver's Seat - Simpson, Helen
India After Gandhi: the History of the World's Largest Democracy - Guha, Ramachandra
Inflorescence - Hannah, Sarah
Inglorious - Kavenna, Joanna
Inner Workings - Coetzee, JM
Justinian's Flea - Rosen, William
Kill all your Darlings: -Sante, Luc
Last Chinese Chef - Mones, Nicole
Last Night I Dreamed of Peace: The Diary of Dang Thuy Tram - Thuy Tram, Dang
Like You'd Understand, Anyway: Stories - Shepard, Jim
Lives of Rocks - Bass, Rick
Long March: The True History of Communist China's Founding Myth - Shuyun, Sun
Look Me In The Eye: My Life with Aspergers - Robison, John Elder
Lost City Radio - Alarcon, Daniel
Loving Frank - Horan, Nancy
Magnificent Catastrophe - Larson, Edward
Man and Camel - Strand, Mark
Margherita Dolce Vita - Benni, Stefano
Mary Modern - De Angelis, Camille
Mistress of the Art of Death - Franklin, Ariana
Modern Life - Harvey, Matthea
Mr. Pip - Jones, Leroy
My Dreams Out in the Street - Addonizio, Kim
My Holocaust - Reich,Tova
New York Calling: from Blackout to Bloomberg - Berman, Marshall, ed
No One Belongs Here More Than You - July, Miranda
No Real Light - Wenderoth, Joe
Now and Forever - Bradbury, Ray
Oil on the Brain: Adventures from the Pump to the Pipeline - Margonelli, Lisa
Once Upon A Country - Nusseibeh, Sari
Once Upon a Quinceanera - Alvarez, Julia
Opposite House - Oyeyemi, Helen
Options - Fake Steve JobsThe Terror Dream: Fear and Fantasy in Post-9/11 America - Faludi, Susan
Otto Preminger: The Man Who Would Be King - Hirsch, Foster
Our American King - Martin, David Lozell
Out Stealing Horses - Pettersen, Per
Overtreated: Why Too Much Medicine is Making Us Sicker and Poorer - Brownlee, Shannon
Peony in Love-See, Lisa
Poems from Guantanamo: the Detainees Speak - Falkoff, Marc
Poincare's Prize - Szpiro, George
Poor People - Vollmann, William
Portable Childhoods - Klages, Ellen
Prime Green - Stone, Robert
Refresh, Refresh: Stories - Percy, Benjamin
Retained by the People: The Silent Ninth Amendment… - Farber, Daniel A.
Run - Patchett, Ann
Salt -Page, Jeremy
Samedi The Deafness - Ball, Jesse
Sarah's Key - de Rosnay, Tatiana
Scandal of the Season - Gee, Sophie
School's Out - Dufosse, Christophe
Schulz and Peanuts: A biography - Michaelis, David
See You in a Hundred Years: - Ward, Logan
Septembers of Shiraz-Sofer, Dalia
Shortcomings- Tomine, Adrian
Sin in the Second City -Abbott, Karen
Sir Gawain and the Green Night - Armitage, Simon
Solitude of Thomas Cave - Harding, Georgia
Spaceman Blues: A Love Song -Slattery, Brian
Strange has this weather been - Pancake, Ann
Strictly Right - Bridges, Linda & John Coyne
Sunstroke and Other Stories - Hadley, Tessa
Supercapitalism: The Transformation of Business, Democracy, and Everyday Life - Reich, Robert B.
Sushi Economy -Issenberg, Sasha
Tearing Down the Wall of Sound: The Rise and Fall of Phil Spector - Brown, Mick
The Abstinence Teacher - Perotta, Tom
The Assault on Reason - Gore, Al
The Bestiary - Christopher, Nicolas
The Black Swan: -Taleb, Nassim
The Braindead Megaphone -Saunders, George
The Canon - Angier, Natalie
The Center Cannot Hold - Saks, Elyn R.
The Clean Shirt of It - Britto, Paulo
The Clearing - White, Philip
The Coldest Winter - Halberstam, David
The Double Bind - Bohjalian, Chris
The Empress of Weehawken - Dische, Irene
The First Word - Kenneally, Christine
The Five-Forty-Five to Cannes - Holthe, Tess Uriza
The Flawless Skin of Ugly People - Crandell, Doug
The Friendship - Sisman, Adam
The Gathering - Enright, Anne
The God Of Animals - Kyle, Aryn
The Great Upheaval - Winik, Jay
The Guardians - Castillo, Ana
The House on Boulevard St - Kirby, David
The House That George Built -Sheed, Wilfrid
The Human Season - Dean, Louise
The Last Chicken in America - Litman, Ellen
The Little Girl and the Cigarette - Duteutre, Benoit
The Long Walk Home - North ,Will
The Missing Class: Portraits of the Near Poor in America - Newman, Katherine S.
The Mistress's Daughter - Homes, A. M.
The Nine: Inside the Secret - Toobin, Jeffrey
The Other Side of You- Vickers, Salley
The Perfect Man - Murr, Naeem
The Pirates Daughter - Cezair-Thompson, Margaret
The Power of Art - Schama, Simon
The Quiet Girl - Hoeg, Peter
The Raw Shark Texts - Hall, Steven
The Reagan Diaries - Reagan, Ronald
The Red Parts - Nelson, Maggie
The Reluctant Fundamentalist - Hamid, Mohsin
The Resurrection Trade - Miller, Leslie Adrienne
The Secret of Lost Things - Hay, Sheridan
The Shock of the Old: Technology and Global History Since 1900 - Edgerton, David
The Sirens of Baghdad - Khadra, Yasmina
The Sixth Extiction: Journeys Among the Lost and Left Behind - Glavin, Terry
The Stuff of Thought: Language as a window into human nature- Pinker, Steven
The Summer of 1787: The Men Who Invented the Constitution - Stewart, David O.
The Tenderness of Wolves - Penney, Stef
The Testament of Gideon Mack- Robertson, James
The Theory of Clouds - Audeguy, Stephane
The Trap - Brook, Daniel
The Used World- Kimmel, Haven
The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox - O'Farrell, Maggie
The Words Of Every Song - Moore, Liz
The Worst Thing I've Ever Done - Hegi, Ursula
The Year of Living Biblically - Jacobs, A. J.
The Zen Of Fish - Corson, Trevor
The Zookeeper's Wife: a war story - Ackerman, Diane
This Clumsy Living - Hicok, Bob
This Life, This Life: New & Selected Poems - Greig, Andrew
Thomas Hardy- Tomalin, Claire
Throws Like a Girl: Stories - Thompson, Jean
Time and Materials: Poems 1997-2005 - Hass, Robert
Tomorrow - Swift, Graham
Tree of Smoke - Johnson, Denis
Trespass - Martin, Valerie
UM … - Erard, Michael
Varieties Of Disturbance - Davis, Lydia
Velocity - Krygowski, Nancy
Well-behaved Women Seldom Make History - Ulrich, Laurel T
What You Have Left - Allison, Will
Winterwood - McCabe, Patrick
Worshipping Small Gods - Parks, Richard
Yakuza Moon- Tendo, Shoko
Ysabel - Kay, Guy Gavriel

Monday, October 29, 2007

Nixon and Mao: The Week That Changed the World by Margaret MacMillan

Well it is official. My electricity is extremely messed up and for the rest of eternity no one but Randy is allowed to touch it. Seriously. Randy has specifically banned anyone (especially my Dad) from messing with my bad wiring who isn't a trained electrician because he doesn't want my loved ones to get electrocuted (Hear that Dad? I told you so.). He said it is lucky the house hasn't burned down with me in it. In spite of this, I love Randy because he has saved me from having to have my house completely rewired. Did I mention I love Randy?

OK, on to the book. One of the nicest things about being on this book award committee is that I am always reading books in areas where I wouldn't normally venture. For example, I am not a huge fan of history. There are a few very specific times and places that interest me intensely (Ancient Egypt, Victorian and Regency England, to name a few) but the Nixon era is not one of them. That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed this book about the week that Nixon went to China to meet with Mao for the first time.

They were both complex, intense, flawed men but, even with all of their huge egos, they managed to see how beneficial (and how historically significant) it would be for them to meet and open relations between the US and China and they worked extremely hard to make that vision a reality. Highly recommended to those history buffs out there.


On Friday night I attended my first KC Bloggers get together which was wonderful. I feel like I just found a whole new group of potential friends. One thing that wasn't so wonderful is looking at a couple of the pictures of myself and realizing that I am getting really out of shape (and those extra 10 vacation pounds didn't help a bit) so, being me, I immediately went out and ran FOR AN HOUR! TWO DAYS IN A ROW! I will be in so much pain tomorrow.

Tomorrow night I will have a bit of a rest however because Randy is coming over to once again spend way too much time working on my electrical problems. This time I am going to insist on paying him something because seven free hours with the electrician is probably as much good luck as one person deserves in a lifetime.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

I am over at UMKC today working at my part-time librarian job, I still haven't finished I Am A Strange Loop and since I don't have a book review ready for you I thought I would talk about one of my other book related obsessions at the moment. As you may know, I am on every social networking site known to man, the whole phenomenon utterly fascinates me and if I were still in grad school I would be doing my thesis on SN implications for libraries. Since I am not still in grad school I just look at it as work related play time. Anyway, my newest site that I have added to the mix is (I also have four or five music ones that I visit intermittently.)

Anyway, on goodreads all you do is rate books you have read, let your friends know what you are currently reading or want to read and talk about books. This is a more interactive site than which I am also on and the big plus of goodreads is there is no 100 book limit. I think I have rated around 500 but only 100 or so have actual reviews. Hey, don't judge, sometimes on Sunday nights the reference desk is a little slow. I need stuff to do and rating books seems like as good a task as anything. Not terribly productive but it does fill up the time nicely.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Switzerland - Day 3, Part 1

Day three found us meandering around Switzerland in search of charming Swiss towns and of course, castles! After all, I have it on good authority that you can't visit Europe and swing a dead cat without hitting a castle or palace. I politely declined the cat swinging portion of the experiment which may explain why we had a bit of difficulty finding our castle/palace.

Our first stop was the town of Luzern which nicely fulfilled the charming portion of the scavenger hunt. It even had a covered bridge

Swiss swans

Swiss cows

A medieval wall (making this a medieval walled Swiss city)

It even had a palace...well, we think it had a palace. After following the lovely, well designed tourist map to the many other sites we went in search of the aforementioned palace. You would think that a palace would be pretty easy to pick out but oddly enough, we could not find it. We found the building that we think was the palace but no entrance for a palace. After searching for quite a while we decided that it couldn't be much of a palace if we couldn't actually find it and, after all, we were going to Versailles later in the week. Since that is the mother of all palaces we cut our losses and took off for Zug which my friend assured me had an actual castle with a moat and everything.

Cheesemaking Made Easy by Ricki Carroll

I should be getting ready for work but instead felt the overwhelming need to blog about cheese. After reading several books about how food is produced I am pretty convinced that buying locally produced foods is better for the environment (not to mention supporting people in our community and small farm operations). This is all well-and-good in theory but putting it into practice is a bit more difficult. Cheese, for example. Most of the really fabulous cheese is produced far away from Kansas and Missouri so I decided to get a book recommended by Barbara Kingsolver in her newest book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life.

I am a fairly intelligent person who can read complete sentences and follow recipes but Cheesemaking Made Easy is a bit misleading. You need all kinds of special things apparently in order to make cheese. Thank goodness I have a friend who makes his own beer (last night's beer was yummy) who told me that many of the special items can be found at his beer making supply store. As soon as work settles down (and I have a chance to clean my house) I will try some of these and report back.

Oh yeah, I have ten more books to read before November 15th and all these fun party type activities that I want to participate in. Why did I want to be on a book award committee again?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The World Without Us by Alan Weisman

What would happen if people suddenly vanished off the face of the earth? How long would it take the world to "recover" from the human virus? In this book, Weisman tries to answer these questions. As he takes us through the process in which our structures, creations and newly invented substances biodegrade over years (often as few as ten or as much as millions plus) it is clear that what will seemingly last forever is plastic.

On a positive note, while it is true that we are bad, bad people who are killing the planet, it is equally true that evolution is surprisingly adaptable and will hopefully be able to create all new creatures who can do things to process and break down the many newly introduced man-made substances. Interesting, well-written and readable. I couldn't put this one down.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Blogger Happy Hour

This Friday the Kansas City Bloggers are getting together at my friend Dan's for some beer, well other things as well but mainly for the beer. Dan is a home brewer extraordinaire and I can't wait to sample his latest product. This will also be a chance to meet a couple of the bloggers that I have been reading (and reading about) for the past year or so. I can't wait.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I Am A Strange Loop by Douglas Hofstadter

Yippy! The next book on my reading list is about how brains work (generally speaking). So far, so good but I will let you know how it all turns out.

What can I say, I love this stuff.

Monday, October 22, 2007

For your next trip to Florida

I have it on the best of authority that if you ever are traveling in Florida a trip to Key West a visit to the Hemingway Home & Museum is a must. If you do make the journey I hope you like cats because more than 60 descendants of Hemingway’s original pet friends are still living on the grounds, and yes, many of them do have six toes.

According to the museum website, Hemingway visited Key West on the advice of a fellow writer, John Dos Pasos. He quickly fell in love with the town, the people and the big game sport fishing. It was here that he met some of his closest, lifelong friends and it was here that he finished the novel, A Farewell To Arms which was published in the fall of 1929.

Be sure to visit the museum website and make a trip to this interesting museum on your next vacation to the Florida Keys

For more serious research, here are just a few of the sites you can visit.

The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum in Boston, MA

Ernest Hemingway Foundation

The Hemingway Society

And now for a fun trivia question: In a 1958 interview with this man, Hemingway claimed to have written the ending of A Farewell to Arms 39 times before being satisfied. Who was that man?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Remainder by Tom McCarthy

I am not sure what to say about this book. It is certainly one of the oddest books I have read this year and very original. I can easily see this becoming a cult classic. The main character (nameless throughout the book) is awarded £8.5 million in compensation for something (?) falling from the sky and injuring him. He proceeds to spend the money by hiring re-inactors to endlessly repeat different experiences that catch his attention in an effort to feel like he is a part of an experience.

The acknowledgements thank people who have suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder for giving the author insight into what that disorder feels like.

Day 2 - Switzerland

Day two in Switzerland was spent (among other things) at the Kunsthaus Museum. My friend and I quickly discovered that we are polar opposites when it comes to museum going. Whereas she is the fastest museum goer on the planet, I may very well be the slowest. I love discovering new artists and can spend quite a bit of time in front of one painting "absorbing". It's a good thing she likes to sit and read cause she got to do quite a bit of it on this trip.

Here is my favorite sculpture from the museum and it even fits the time of year.

It isn't the Mona Lisa (seen later on this trip) but it made me giggle.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Oystercatchers: A Novel by Susan Fletcher

Moira sits by the hospital bed of her sixteen year old comatose sister and tells her all of the things that her sister's arrival changed in her life. When Amy was born, it abruptly changed the trajectory of eleven year old Moira's existence and took her down a completely different path in life. This was another of my favorite quiet novels about sisters who never quite connect until it is too late. Beautifully written, my only wish is that I had been able to read this all in one sitting instead of spreading it out over several days. Still, it was a book worth savoring.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Arriving in Switzerland

My first day in Switzerland came with instructions. I wish I would have saved the email but it was funny (in a very caring, friendlike way). I was to drink plenty of water, not take a nap of more than one hour and we would do a short tour of Zurich (if I felt up to it).

It was a bit cloudy but Zurich really is beautiful AND very, very clean. Littering is a bad, bad thing in Switzerland. The public toilets are also sparkling clean but a bit pricey. Hey, you pay for cleanliness.

There is a great story about the saints that were martyred in the very spot where I was standing when I took this picture. Please note that they were decapitated and then PICKED UP THEIR OWN HEADS and (depending on the story) proceeded to bury themselves. That seems a bit extreme to me but then I have never aspired to sainthood.

Legend has it that Felix and Regula, Roman Christians and the patron saints of Zürich, fled to the city from the massacre of their legion in Valais in the third century AD. They were martyred by decapitation on the site of today's Wasserkirche for refusing to pray to Roman gods, whereupon they picked up their heads and carried them up the hill to the spot where they wished to be buried.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Eight Things about Yourself

I've been tagged by Waldo Oiseau. Now I have to come up with 8 things that aren't generally known about me instead of playing scrabble online with her.
  1. I paint. Usually pretty badly anymore but I have one or two darn good paintings from the good old days.
  2. I am fascinated by vampires. I have actual reference books on the subject.
  3. Nowdays I am addicted to sparkly, strappy, high-heeled shoes but all through junior high and high school all I ever wore was cowboy boots.
  4. I was a Future Farmer of America. I know how to judge sheep, cows, pigs, goats, and cheese. I had a blue coat and everything.
  5. I know how to weld. Mig, tig, you name it, I can weld with it. Or I could. It has been a while since I wanted to play with fire. Learned when I was in FFA.
  6. I like romance novels. I like dark, angsty tortured heroes but my most favorite heroes are the funny ones. What can I say, I am a sucker for a man with a sense of humor.
  7. When I eat trail mix I start with the things I like the least and then work my way up to my favorites. That way my taste buds remember the happy bits.
  8. My ultimate weekend is one spent in my house with a big pile of books, my cats and maybe a cookie or two. (OK, that one isn't much of a secret)
  9. I can sing really well but have a karaoke phobia.

As I have been trying to come up with these I also realized that I am a bit of an open book. Ask me, I will tell you all about it. I'm not shy. Therefore, it was really hard to come up with secret things to talk about:)

I haven't posted much here lately so I won't tag anyone...for now.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Iggy Pop: Open Up and Bleed by Paul Trynka

I like Iggy Pop, or at least I like Iggy Pop's music. I quickly discovered that I am not that fond of the man. This was a fairly well written biography and it was interesting to see how Iggy rose to fame but the endless descriptions of destructive behavior, drug use and sexual escapades quickly lost it horrified fascination for me. Instead of being a train wreck I couldn't look away from it just became tedious. For example, if they told me once, they told me a hundred times about how incredibly well endowed he was. Really, once would have been enough.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Blogs I Like

Lately I have added two blogs to my daily (or at least weekly) blog browsing. The first is called The Happiness Project I can't say that it is making me any happier, after all, I am the queen of living in the past (or so I am told) but I am finding it interesting.

The second is Both Sides Of The Mouth which reviews music and even offers free downloads. I love discovering new music so I try catch this one as often as I can.

I don't have any book review blogs that I read (except one I read because she is my friend) but I think that is because I am completely overwhelmed with the amount of reading I have to do anymore. The crazy thing is that I just signed on for two more years of Notable Reading.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Back from Holiday

For the past couple of weeks I have been jaunting around Europe. On my many plane trips and other assorted waiting moments I had time to start power reading through my giant stack of books. I now have an assortment of books that I need to blog about....if only I could get through the giant stack of work, posting of trip pictures for my friends and assorted non-serious trip related blogs on my myspace page. I have about 20 to write about so I will be getting serious soon. I promise.

Anyway, my favorite Notable related book from my trip was Bow Grip (review to follow soon). My favorite non-Notable (just for fun) read was the Donna Leon mystery series set in Venice. I am trying to extend my trip by continuing to read the series instead of getting busy with my Notable reading. If you like mysteries I highly recommend the series.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Edgar Awards 2007

There are several different mystery awards but this always seems to net me the biggest payoff in terms of favorite new authors.

Grand Master * Stephen King

Best Mystery Novel
*The Janissary Tree by Jason Goodwin
• The Pale Blue Eye by Louis Bayard
• Gentleman and Players by Joanne Harris
• The Dead Hour by Denise Mina
• The Virgin of Small Plains by Nancy Pickard
• Liberation Movements by Olen Steinhauer

Best First Novel by an American Author
*The Faithful Spy by Alex Berenson
• Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
• King of Lies by John Hart
• Holmes on the Range by Steve Hockensmith
• A Field of Darkness by Cornelia Read

Best Paperback Original
*Snakeskin Shamisen by Naomi Hirahara
• The Goodbye Kiss by Massimo Carlotto
• The Open Curtain by Brian Evenson
• The Deep Blue Alibi by Paul Levine
• City of Tiny Lights by Patrick Neate

Monday, September 03, 2007

Romance Novels

I didn't do my homework this weekend. In fact, I goofed off by reading romance novels all weekend long. Ok, I worked Saturday and Sunday but still, I read four romance novels instead of reading my notable nominees AND I had fun.

On of the novels was by one of my favorite authors in that genre but it turned out to be the "Big Misunderstanding" where the main characters love each other but fight, break-up and years later see each other and realize that they were destined to be together. A lot of readers object to the "Big Misunderstanding" because so often, if they would just sit down and talk there would be no misunderstanding. As a plot device, it is shaky but I never seem to mind that. What bothers me is the "years later" part. I guess I can't quite suspend disbelief on that one.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Cabin Pressure by Josh Wolk

This is one of those books where a 30-something, realizing he is now a "grown-up", has a panic attack and tries to relive his childhood. In this case, writer Josh Wolk, is getting married and entering the grown-up world at last. He decides that he wants to go back and be a camp counselor at his beloved childhood summer camp once before embarking on the adventure of being a grown-up. Being a writer, he has the flexiblity to take the summer and sign on as a camp counselor and so he goes back and does just that.

Josh is one of those kids who never quite fit in as a child. He was exceptionally tall, a little too smart and gawky in a way that did not make him shine in sports. This camp, a non-competitive, boys only camp, lived in his memory as a place where he came into his own and even shone. Going back, he relives both the good and bad parts of his camp days. This was funny book (I particularly enjoyed his phone conversations with his wedding-stressed fiance) and made a nice change from exploring 9/11 angst.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Falling Man by Don DeLillo

Over the past few years (now that the initial shock has passed) books about 9/11 have started to make an appearance. This one is probably going to top the list. It took me awhile to pick this one up off the giant stack of books in my house because of the subject matter. Even though time has passed, the emotional impact of that day on everyone who remembers it is still relatively fresh. Also, adding to that his books aren't easy reading. I will say though, that his best novels are worth the extra effort and this is one of his best.

Keith Neudecker shows up at his estranged wife's door on September 11th, bloody and confused, having just walked out of one of the Towers. For most of the book they (and various family members) struggle to find some way of dealing with the event and moving forward with their lives. DeLillo also explores the life of Hammad, one of the terrorists, who wonders if "a man has to kill himself in order to accomplish something in the world?"

This is DeLillo's best work, tender, heart wrenching and as always with DeLillo, unique and different.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Then We Came To The End by Joshua Ferris

A very funny book about an office at the end of the era (the 80's) that gets more disfunctional as the inevitible budget cuts, loss of benefits and finally, layoffs start to occur. What is surprising about this novel is that it has depth, it isn't turning into another slapstick office comedy. Very, very good.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

You Don't Love Me Yet by Jonathan Lethem

You Don't Love Me Yet is the story of a dysfunctional band, or perhaps, more precisely, a dysfunctional couple and a band. This is one of the contemporary, cutting edge novels that would have worked much better if I actually cared what happened to any of the people in the novel. The utter ineptness of their existence and the strange situations in which the characters found themselves felt more like a slapstick comedy than a serious novel.

An odd novel with none of the depth of some of my other recent reads.

Gertrude Bell: Queen Of The Desert, Shaper Of Nations by Georgina Howell

I am reading currently reading Gertrude Bell: Queen Of The Desert, Shaper Of Nations by Georgina Howell. I want to be Gertrude when I grow up, except I don't really want to move to another country and lead an Islamic nation to become an independent and democratic nation. Known as the female "Lawrence of Arabia", Gertrude Bell was instrumental in the creation of Iraq. One of the most dynamic, accomplished women of her times (first woman to ever earn a first at Oxford) she was a true renaissance woman. She was in turn, a spy, archaeologist, poet, photographer, mountain climber and advisor to kings. It was due to her influence that Iraq enjoyed many years as a democratic state, an amazing accomplishment during a time when women were looked at as an decorative accessory instead of capable and intelligent people.

Outstanding and compelling biography. I highly recommended picking up a copy if you get a chance.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Stumbling On Happiness by Daniel Gilbert

Stumbling On Happiness and is my current rebellion book. (It isn't on my assigned reading list.) and it is a fascinating book. The author explores our perception of happiness and why we consistantly guess wrong about what will make us happy. How, once a moment has passed, it is impossible for the individual who experienced the moment to accurately rate how happy that moment made us because, our subsequent experiences change how we view that experience. How convinced we as Americans are that are happiness will always increase, that something better is always going to be happening in the next experience and how we neglect our best resource (other people) to predict which experiences will make us happiest because of our compelling need to be unique (even though it has been proven that people are more alike than different.)

Very interesting stuff to ponder.

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Killing Jar by Nicola Monaghan

The Killing Jar is the story of a young girl, who grows up in house filled with drugs, violence and addiction. Her slow transformation from young girl who still believes in a different life, into the life of a psychotic addict is mesmerizing and disturbing. Perhaps the most effective element of this novel is her utter likability, even as she commits a series of increasingly violent crimes as she tries to escape the lifestyle.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Empire of Blue Water: Captain Morgan's Great Pirate Army, the Epic Battle for the Americas, and the Catastrophe That Ended the Outlaws' Bloody Reign

Empire of Blue Water: Captain Morgan's Great Pirate Army, the Epic Battle for the Americas, and the Catastrophe That Ended the Outlaws' Bloody Reign by Stephan Talty. I had high hopes for this one. After all, what could be better than a pirate story. While the story was interesting, it wasn't as compelling as some of the other biographies I have read recently. Captain Morgan was a pirate for the British Empire and while the book did a good job depicting the politics of the time, the author didn't add enough personal touches about the man (at least until his pirate days were past him). Interesting and a good pirate story but not a manditory read.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Maytrees by Annie Dillard

The Maytrees by Annie Dillard is a stunning work of fiction, following a couple through their life, both together and apart. I like these kind of novels, where quiet, profound moments lead toward something greater than it's parts.

The author's use of language takes your breath away. She is a truly gifted novel who packs a whole lot of impact into a tiny novel. The sheer depth of this novel is astounding. Absolutely lovely novel.

Friday, July 27, 2007

A blog recommendation

This recommendation came from one of my customers at the library. The blog is called No Impact Man and in the blogger's own words... "For one year, my wife, my 2-year-old daughter, my dog and I, while living in the middle of New York City, are attempting to live without making any net impact on the environment. In other words, no trash, no carbon emissions, no toxins in the water, no elevators, no subway, no products in packaging, no plastics, no air conditioning, no TV, no toilets… "

After reading so many books on the subject in the past year or so, I have been increasingly concerned about the environment. I am not ready to make the kind of commitment that the author does but I really admire his dedication.

You can find his blog at

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling

I love everything about Harry Potter. The biggest problem with book #7 is that it is the end of line. Harry is done. There will be no more to look forward to. I remember when the first one came out I stood up in front of a bunch of children's librarians and said something along the lines of "This book will be huge. It will be like Charlotte's Web, even people who don't read it will know who Harry is." What can I say, I love it when I am right.

Hallows had a couple of places that dragged in the middle but the ending was resolved in a way that made sense to me. I would like to go back and read them all back-to-back to see how the story arch worked as a whole but that will have to wait until the Notable Reading project is over. Otherwise, highly recommended for everyone except the snootiest of readers:)

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Book Blog

My own recommendation from a blogger who is doing much better with book recommendations than I am...

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Edith Wharton by Hermione Lee

I have been struggling through Hermione Lee's exceptionally well-written biography about Edith Wharton. It is actually quite readable but it 750 pages long and that is quite a time commitment for all but the most dedicated Wharton fans. Because one of the mandates of my committee is that a book be accessible I am really struggling with this book. Does the fact that it is the definitive work on a subject override the fact that it is not as accessible as other books on the list? Luckily, I don't have to make that decision until the end of the year (or alone) so I have plenty of time to see what else rises to the top of the reading lists this year.

Having said that, if you have any interest in Edith Wharton, this is an exceptional and quite readable biography and I do highly recommend it. It is worth the time investment if you are a fan of Wharton, American literature and/or women in history.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Ministry of Special Cases by Nathan Englander

In turn, humorous and horrifying, the new Nathan Englander novel, The Ministry Of Special Cases, revisits the events of Argentina’s “Dirty War” and it's impact on the Jewish community.

Lillian and Kaddish and their son, Pato are living ordinary lives, deliberately separated from their Jewish roots. When Pato disappears, the two parents embark on a labyrinth journey that twists and turns through various governmental agencies and eventually leads them to the Ministry of Special Cases. At times almost surreal, the novel explores remembering and forgetting, evil disguised as beaurocracy and love. This novel is powerful and immediate in the way that all good historical novels strive to become.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan

Sometimes a book will trick you. You think it is a book about one thing and it turns out to be something completely different. This is one of those kind of books. I don't know exactly how to talk about it because talking too much about how profoundly it affected me will give away part of the ending. Anyway, this is a brilliant, beautifully written novel about the wedding night of two people in a time before sex was discussed, a time when innocence on the wedding night was expected. Lovely, lovely novel.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Buy, Buy, Baby by Susan Gregory Thomas and Pesthouse by Jim Crace

A couple more books that we are discussing for the award that I liked...Buy, Buy, Baby: How Consumer Culture Manipulates Parents and Harms Young Minds by Susan Gregory Thomas. One of the subjects that I am interested in and have been reading about for a long time is brain development. I have been reading about the impact that media and advertising has on the cognitive development of young children for years, starting with the brilliant book Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman. (I have also read giant stacks of books about brain differences between the sexes but that is a different story). Buy, Buy Baby is probably the most focused and accessible of the bunch. It is interesting how the (marketing hating Gen-X generation) has been manipulated by that very industry. Facinating.

I also liked Pesthouse by Jim Crace. This takes place in a post-industrial society where violence is rampant. This was very compelling although it was difficult for me to not compare it to my favorite book from last year (The Road by Cormic McCarthy) but this was such a different vision of the future that it was an engrossing read. I still like his book Being Dead better though.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

A bit more than beach reads...

I went to a workshop this morning that featured hot new reads, mostly focusing on light “beach” reads. I decided to put together an “if you want to stretch yourself a bit” list. I will also do a little “Beach Reads” one later for those who just want fun reading this summer.

Books that are a bit on the challenging side…

Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
People’s Act of Love by James Meek
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
On Beauty by Zadie Smith
Seeing by Jose Saramago
Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky
Falling Man: A Novel by Don DeLillo
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Death of Vishnu: A Novel by Manil Suri
Being Dead: A Novel by Jim Crace
Waiting: A Novel by Ha Jin
Voodoo Heart by Scott Snyder

And for those of you who want to go one step further…one that will make your head explode.

Against the Day by Thomas Pynchon (be sure to bone up on your Physics)

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Favorite Author

I haven't been posting much although I have been reading for a couple of reasons. 1) The ever popular procrastination excuse 2) I have not been particularly wowed by what I have been reading and am finding it hard to write balanced, fair reviews of those books.

Today I got the new Margaret Drabble book, The Sea Lady, which promptly moved to the top of my stack and I started during my lunch at Andre's. Some of my finest reading moments have occurred at this restaurant and my first Margaret Drabble book was started there. Her books are quiet books where not much happens externally. If you are a reader who likes plotting and lots of action she is not an author for you. Internally, however, there is so much going on in her books that it sometimes overwhelms a reader. For me, her books are small, perfect gems that resonate with me for years afterward. I can't wait to get off work tonight to go home and read some more.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Non-book related mussings...

Last month I had a little accident with my car (actually it was pulling out of my extremely narrow garage) and took out my side mirror. On Friday I took it in to get an estimate. $273.00 for that little mistake. Sign...between that and the heavy concert schedule this month it's good that I have that part time job back. Next week is intersession though, so I won't be working the part time job for a month. I guess I need to start cutting back on the spending.

Saturday, April 28, 2007


I find it interesting how, when something catches your fancy you suddenly see reminders of it everywhere.

One example, the other day I was weeding the arts and crafts section at the library and I found some great books featuring some of my favorite artists. I love art. I love going to art galleries and spending hours pondering art that I like (and that I don't). Anyway, few days ago after that I ran across this great blog and thought I would share it with all of you. Take a peek. It is a great new find

Friday, April 27, 2007

Finn: A Novel by Jon Clinch

This is the story of Finn (the father of Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn). This is an unrelentingly dark tale of a violent man and his impact on the world around him. It portrays Huck's father as a racist who lusts after black women and "steals" Huck's mother, keeping her a virtual prisoner, although in truth she has nowhere else to go. All of this is overseen by his family, much to the disgust of his even more racist father, "the Judge" and the sorrow of his brother. Although Finn is the more outwardly repulsive the novel slowly revels that the Judge is the more evil of the two.

After Huck is born, Finn softens briefly but soon slides back into his drunken world. As most stories of this type go, this all ends badly with everything Finn comes in contact with being damaged or destroyed. This is a brilliant novel but very difficult to read. I had to put it down several times. Also, the use of racist profanity throughout the novel was jarring and obscene. This is not a book for everyone but will probably make some best of year lists.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Books for later

Books I want to read when my Notable Year is over....

The Stranger by Albert Camus (Author), Matthew Ward (Translator)
A Bend in the River by V.S. Naipaul (Author)
Hopscotch (Pantheon Modern Writers Series) by Julio Cortazar (Author)
Waiting: A Novel by Ha Jin (Author)
The Country Life: A Novel by Rachel Cusk (Author)
Bruce Chatwin: A Biography by Nicholas Shakespeare (Author)
The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty by Eudora Welty (Author)
The Complete Stories by Flannery O'Connor (Author)
Living To Tell : A Novel by Antonya Nelson
Disgrace by J. M. Coetzee (Author)
Being Dead: A Novel by Jim Crace (Author)
Unexpected Light: Travels in Afghanistan by Jason Elliot (Author)
Can't Be Satisfied: The Life and Times of Muddy Waters by Robert Gordon (Author)
The Russian Debutante's Handbook by Gary Shteyngart (Author)
Family Matters by Rohinton Mistry (Author)
By the Lake by John Mcgahern (Author)
The Known World: A Novel by Edward P. Jones (Author)
Cloud Atlas: A Novel by David Mitchell (Author)
Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt (Author), Stephen J. Dubner (Author)
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close: A Novel by Jonathan Safran Foer (Author)
The Hungry Tide: A Novel by Amitav Ghosh (Author)
Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond (Author)
The Glass Castle : A Memoir (Alex Awards (Awards)) by Jeannette Walls
Madeleine Is Sleeping by Sarah Shun-lien Bynum (Author)
Snow by Orhan Pamuk (Author)
The Orientalist: Solving the Mystery of a Strange and Dangerous Life by Tom Reiss (Author)
How We Live by Sherwin B. Nuland (Author)
How We Die: Reflections on Life's Final Chapter by Sherwin B. Nuland (Author)
Waiting: A Novel by Ha Jin (Author)
The Collected Stories of Katherine Anne Porter by Katherine Anne Porter (Author)
Humboldt's Gift (Penguin Classics) by Saul Bellow (Author)
Rabbit at Rest by John Updike (Author)
Pirattitude!: So you Wanna Be a Pirate?: Here's How! by John Baur (Author), et al.
Tao Te Ching by Stephen Mitchell (Author)
Kindred (Bluestreak Black Women Writers) by Octavia E. Butler (Author)
Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey (Author)
Field Notes on the Compassionate Life: A Search for the Soul of Kindness by Marc Ian Barasch (Author)
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay: A Novel by Michael Chabon (Author)
Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson (Author)
A Prayer for Owen Meany (Modern Library) by John Irving (Author)
Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott (Author)
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy (Author)
Case Histories: A Novel by Kate Atkinson (Author)
The Sea by John Banville (Author)
The Woman in White (Enriched Classics) by Wilkie Collins (Author)
Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban (Author)
The Cairo Trilogy: Palace Walk, Palace of Desire, Sugar Street (Everyman's Library) by Naguib Mahfouz (Author), Sabry Hafez (Introduction)