You Are What You Read

You Are What You Read!

Greetings and welcome to the Valentine’s Day edition of You Are What You Read.   This week’s housekeeping includes a reminder that we will be open on Monday so come on by and visit if you haven’t frozen to death over the weekend.  There were no Offerings this week which is fine. This winter is crushing me.  I was delusional enough to think I didn’t need a gym this winter.  I was horribly mistaken.  When you see me be kind, please.

For those of you heading to warmer climes or taller colder heights this weekend, I am going to let you all in on a secret.  If you are waiting for one of our most popular books and you read on a tablet, you will get that book much faster if you get it electronically from 3M.  The holds on My Name is Lucy Barton and When Breath Becomes Air are virtually non-existent.  So if you need help getting started People click here to begin the process.

There was a news story this week that has had me scratching my head.   Apparently in Palm Beach, Florida (of course Florida) a 24-year-old man has been charged with aggravated assault because he threw an alligator, which, by the way, was no Tiny Tourist Baby Alligator that you bring home, let live in the tub until you get bored and then send it on its tour of our water treatment system, but a Full Blown Grown Up Alligator measuring 3½ feet long through a Wendy’s Drive –Thru window after ordering a large beverage.  He then paid by credit card ensuring that he would get caught.  You can read about the whole story here.  I still have lots of questions.  For instance, this young man, who by all accounts is not Simple but a nearly grown human capable of decent and rational decision making, was driving around at 1:30 in the morning and saw this alligator and thought it would be a good idea to pick it up and place it in the front seat of his car.  I, as a thinking grown woman cannot see any wisdom in this decision; never mind sharing the front seat with it.  He then got thirsty, and drove to his neighborhood Wendy’s where after placing his order,  ‘drove around’ as they ask one to do, paid for the bev with a credit card of all things and then when the Attendant’s back was turned threw the reptile through the window.  Did he throw it like a football?  Was there a spiral involved?   This is a logical question after a Super Bowl weekend.  Just what sort of noise does a gator make when it makes contact with the floor?  Is it like when you drop your purse on the floor at the end of the day?  And then I started wondering about other states.  In Texas would an Armadillo be the animal of choice? I think it would be way easier to throw than an alligator. You could totally get a spiral going with an armadillo!  We know what we would throw in PA and Staten Island (I am looking at you Phil and Chuck!). In Manhattan would it be Pizza Rat?  Would it be the Rat and the Pizza or just the Rat?   Do they even have Drive-Thru Windows in Manhattan? Would a squirrel be the CT equivalent of a gator?  Somehow I don’t see a squirrel sitting quietly for a ride in a car.  Anyway, I urge you to watch the accompanying interview with his parents.  His father sits quietly on a sofa staring into the middle distance probably dreaming of a better day and perhaps solo inclusion in the Witness Protection Program somewhere in Idaho while the mother describes her son as a ‘prankster’ and an ‘outdoorsman’.  Enjoy and if anyone has any answers please help this girl out.

In our countdown we are 107 days away from Memorial Day. Stay strong and stay warm this weekend People!  We can do this!

This week we have a vet and some déjà vu.  That’s it. That’s all we’ve got.  It’s a long cold winter People.

The Playlist?  We may be cold but we’re not THAT cold!  Of course we have the Playlist!  In fact we have two!

Let us begin!

Barbara M is reading Where My Heart Used to Beat by Sebastian Faulks. “The protagonist, Robert Hendrick is a psychiatrist and a veteran of World War II. He’s led a lonely and isolated life at first living with his mother and then away at schools after his father died in the First World War. An unexpected invitation arrives from an elderly doctor explaining that he was Hendrick’s father’s commander offering him the promise of more information about his father. This is a very introspective book about memory and loss and war and although it may not have the same impact as Faulk’s previous book, Birdsong, it is still very compelling. “

There is a new release that I adored reading this fall that I think you all need to be aware of.  I love novels that have two story lines going on.  It's so much fun to try to figure out how and when they are going to converge.  In  Black Rabbit Hall  by Eve Chase we have the story of Amber who is a young girl living in London but she and her family really live for the time spent at the family estate, Black Rabbit Hall in Cornwall.  Life is shining and perfect until one awful day when it all comes undone.  Fast forward 30 years, Lorna is newly engaged when she and her fiancé stumble upon an old estate that would be perfect as a wedding venue. When Lorna's feeling of deja vu becomes stronger and stronger, she becomes obsessed to find out where she fits into the history of the house and the people who lived in it. I loved this modern day Gothic.
DJ Jazzy Patty McC is here from that State Up North with the final musings.  What’s good Pats?  “The progression of this week seems to be getting more and more surreal. Politics, the water crisis in Flint), the diet of a juice bar owner with the last name of Bacon (Spoiler alert: there’s no bacon in her diet, and the young man in Florida who chucked an alligator through the window of a drive-thru Wendy’s. I keep waiting to wake up and have someone tell me that I’ve dreamed all this. One can hope… Stay warm and enjoy this Valentine weekend with some chocolate, a good book and a couple of playlists.”
DL Warm Hearts+Snowpocalypse=There Better Be Chocolate in the House 2014

You Are What You Read!

Greetings and welcome to the Super Bowl 50 Edition of You Are What You Read.  This week we have Karyn to thanks for The Offering of Taffy.  It came decked out in Mardi Gras colors which is only fitting seeing as Tuesday is indeed Shrove Tuesday aka as Mardi Gras.  Party on People!  We will be accepting King Cakes until Tuesday at midnight.  And after that? 40 days of deprivation and sacrifice.  Get excited.  As an aside, it always kind of fascinates me that those of you who do the whole No Adult Beverage thing in January then get smacked with Lent.  Seems unfair somehow. To my mind, your Lenten Experience should be a reduced sentence.

Sunday is Super Bowl Sunday.  An over the top day into night dedicated to food of dubious nutritional value, ridiculously expensive commercial air time, over indulgence of the sudsy variety and oh, yeah, a football game.  I am torn on this one.  I became a defender of the Broncos when I heard Peyton Manning described by an announcer as ‘creaky.’  This is an adjective that I, and I am willing to bet many of you, can totally relate to.  Look, just because we creak doesn’t mean we can’t be amazing.   But because The Traveling Companion is a native and proud Tar Heel (though a long suffering Redskins fan) I feel the need to give the Panthers  some attention also.  Whatever.  It’s going to go down regardless.  Enjoy People.  Remember, 40 days of deprivation and sacrifice is right around the corner.

As you may have heard by now, Punxsutawney Phil and Staten Island Chuck have taken pity on us after the brutality of the past few winters and have thrown us the bone of an early spring. Here’s hoping they make good on that promise.  You never can tell with a rodent.  DJ Jazzy Patty McC came up with the brilliant idea that we begin a countdown to our first beach weekend. So consider this the first one of the next 17 weeks.  People! We have 114 days until Memorial Day aka the First Official Weekend of Summer.  If you should want to keep track your own self, of course there is a web site for that and it can be found here. Just think, only 114 more days until the Solo cups come out of their winter hiding places at the ready to hold some contraband, only 114 more days until you open that beach bag wondering what’s going to get opened first.  That new edition of the New Yorker?  The Times magazine?  Or that trashy novel that you know your winter self would hold in utter contempt?  So hold tight People! These toe- in-the-sand delights are on the way. 

This week we have strained siblings, Dumplin’ and some Blackberry Chocolate Chip Ice Cream from one of my favorite places on earth, Graeters! 

Do we have The Playlist?  Of course we have The Playlist.  Say thank you to DJ Jazzy Patty McC aka Birthday Girl when next you see her.

Let us begin!

Sweet Ann has just finished one of our most wanted books, The Past by Tessa Hadley.   “This family drama is set in the English countryside as four grown siblings decide what to do with the crumbling old family home now that their parents are deceased. There is intrigue, romantic feelings that will cause an uproar, petty jealousies, and sibling rivalry. Older sister Alice arrives with the twenty year old son of her ex-boyfriend.  Roland brings his third wife Pilar and his teenage daughter Molly.  Fran is with her two young children; happy to be away from her husband.  Harriet, the last sibling to get to the house, comes by herself questioning her life and how it has all turned out.  This book brings in the old class system in England and the effect that it had on the siblings.  This is a quiet book that brings you into the decaying family home and the strained relationships of the siblings.  I was drawn into their story and felt as if I knew their secrets, tensions and desires. I liked it very much.”

The Lovely Mallory is here this week!  She seems excited.  “Dumplin’ is the book I wish I had read when I was a teenage girl. Julie Murphy’s newest novel follows Willowdean, self-proclaimed fat girl, as she navigates her Texas town, her beauty-pageant obsessed mother, boys, and losing touch with her best friend. Dumplin’ is a fresh take on what it means to be a young girl in 2016. There are frank conversations about sex, self-image, and being unapologetically confident. There’s also a GREAT scene where Willowdean and her comrades experience their first ever Drag Show that will have you spitting out your sweet tea from laughter. Willowdean may be an unlikely heroine, but you’ll be cheering her on every step of the way. I’m listening to Dolly Parton on repeat until our book discussion on February 18th.”

I have to confess here that I am not a Jane Austen fan, nor do I especially love the majority of product that Curtis Sittenfeld has put out.  Loved American Wife for instance, had no use for Prep.  This being said I hated leaving the Bennett family behind when I finished Eligible.  This modern day telling of Pride and Prejudice set in present day Cincinnati is a delight.  Funny, tender and wise this is a gem of a novel.  Sittenfeld gets the Cincinnati details spot on ( Zip’s burger or Graeter's Blackberry Chocolate Chip anyone?) while she takes on Reality TV, the sandwich generation and what happens when the heart refuses to stand to reason. You have to wait until April for this one but trust me on this, it’s worth it and it has already earned a spot on my best of 2016. 

DJ Jazzy Patty McC is here from That State Up North with our final thoughts and of course The Playlist.  What’s good Birthday Girl?  “I’ve been cooped up at home for the past week with my boy who’s managed to catch not one but two different viruses. We’ve been spending quality time together watching a LOT of television. We’ve been watching Zombie House Flipping,  River Monsters,  Project Runway Junior ) and lots of HGTV and the Food Network. We’re going to take the rodent’s prediction of four weeks until Spring and run with it. We’re all looking forward to more sunshine, less illness and a day at the beach with a good book. It can’t come soon enough, so let’s begin the Beach Read Countdown! Enjoy a little football and some political hijinks this weekend and don’t forget to wash your hands and cover your cough. The flu season is just getting started here in Michigan. May it pass over your house and spare you any illin’. “


Nice New Book Goodness

Here is what you can find on the shelves that is new next week. Come in and visit us, or put your items on hold from home! We will let you know when they are ready for you to pick up.  Remember that a lot of these items can be found on our new display space behind the Welcome Desk.  Check out the Wonder Wall for 14-Day instant gratification!

You Are What You Read

Greetings and welcome to the Dead Resolution Edition of You Are What You Read.  This week there were no Offerings and the Animal Kingdom is mercifully quiet.  We hope that you are all dug out and that extra bread and milk purchased was put to good use.

Since it’s the last week of the first month of the New Year, I have been doing a lot of thinking on my new year’s resolution. I resolved that I would fret less about body image and focus more on being healthy and strong.  But with the newly fallen snow accompanied by ice, cold and  an early sunset, I have found it hard to maintain even the most basic of fitness routines. Here come what I have come to think of as The Winter TenThe Winter Ten are those ten unwelcome pounds that start to keep you company in January and February.  I have come to think of them as that family member that you are never really entirely happy to host and yet they inevitably appear at the door for their annual visit that is a week too long. They usually find their way through the back door in the guise of The Hellidaze Three.  Sure!  One more cookie!  Sure!  Sign me up for that nightcap before we all call it a night.  By the time New Year’s Eve rolls around, most of us are determined that we are going to kick what has become The Hellidaze Three to the curb with diligent exercise and healthy eating.  By the end of January, the cold has set in, there are usually dangerous ice and snow conditions that prohibit walking safely, the early onset dark is encouraging only to hibernation and the only comfort to be found is copious amounts of pasta.  Imagine my delight when this week it was announced that we had a new role model in Curvy Barbie.  Granted, early responders (six-year-old girls) do not find the new Barbie curvy. They merely find her, well, fat.  But I say Fi to you six-year-old girls!  Embrace the curves. You can read about Curvy Barbie and her new friends, Petite and Tall Barbie here. Listen, just 8% of people actually achieve goals set on New Year’s Eve.  This Forbes article from 2013 explains all that and offers tips on how to be in that lofty company.  Be kind to yourselves People!  The winter is long and harsh enough without beating yourself up. Now pass the pasta.

This week we have hypnosis, gratitude, falconry, and porn.  Lots and lots of porn.

You know The Playlist is here. Because it’s Friday at 5. And that should always have a playlist. 

Let us begin!

Barbara M is listening this week. “I am listening to Colum McCann’s latest book, a collection of short stories and a novella. I am nearing the end of the novella, Thirteen Ways of Looking which is also the title of the book.  Peter Mendelssohn, a retired judge, living on the upper east side of Manhattan reflects upon his childhood, his late wife, his children and rails against the humiliations he suffers because of his old age and deteriorating body. The story is good but would not be the gem it is without the author’s magical and lyrical use of language.  Listening to it is wonderful as it is read by the author. Colum McCann’s Irish accent is hypnotizing.”

Pat T has just finished Gratitude by the late oh so great Oliver Sacks . “I read Gratitude and all I can say it is a very short book with a very powerful message! This book is a collection of four essays in which the author so eloquently reflects on his life and coming to terms with his own death which he realizes is ‘no longer an abstract, but an all too close presence’. In the essay, My Own Life, Sachs expresses his overpowering appreciation for a life well lived. Gratitude, the book,as well as a resolution, is a very positive way to begin this New Year! I look forward to reading his previous book, On the Move.”

Steph!  Whatcha doing? “I’ve already broken most of my New Years’ resolutions, but I did keep one, I finally read H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald. And it was every bit as good as I had hoped when I pledged to read it! Macdonald, a writer and researcher, was devastated by her father’s sudden death, and impulsively decided she wanted to train a goshawk. Though she had trained falcons for years, she had never dared before to train one of these vicious and temperamental birds. This book tells not only her story of training her hawk Mabel, but also reflects on the experience of famous author T. H. White with a goshawk of his own. Words can’t describe what a beautiful book this is. Macdonald writes about nature in a unique and affecting way, and peers deeply into what it means to be human. Her sentences really have lives of their own. As with Joyce Carol Oates in A Widow’s Story, I am grateful for her ability to transform a deep and personal grief into art that speaks to all readers.”

I finished My Father the Pornographer a while ago.  You all will get a chance to read it when it comes out next week. When Chris Offutt's father died there was no inheritance of his father's watch or any other sentimental keepsake.  Instead the legacy left to Chris was the 400 novels of pornography that his father wrote during his lifetime.  Chris embarks on a journey to understand his father and the choices he made.  The writing is clean and spare and while the subject matter is salacious it is handled with a deft sensitivity.

DJ Jazzy Patty McC is here from That State Up North with the final thoughts and The Playlist.  What’s good Pats? “In between the political rhetoric of the week, I learned that Mattel would be producing 3 new Barbie shapes. FINALLY, the toy industry understood that women come in all different shapes, sizes and colors. Kids will now be able to play with dolls that look like their mothers who are tall, or their aunts who are curvy, or their sisters who are petite. Sorry, Ken. It’s not your time yet. This week the playlist is all Barbie.”


Nice New Book Goodness

Here is what you can find on the shelves that is new next week. Come in and visit us, or put your items on hold from home! We will let you know when they are ready for you to pick up.  Remember that a lot of these items can be found on our new display space behind the Welcome Desk.  Check out the Wonder Wall for 14-Day instant gratification!


You Are What You Read!

Greetings and welcome to the Full Wolf Moon Edition of You Are What You Read.  This week’s housekeeping is as follows:  There were no Offerings.  Saturday’s Full Moon, the first of the new year, is known as the Wolf Moon and also as Full Snow Moon.  I don’t like the sound of that one bit.  Sorry.  Wolves?  Snow?  No wonder there is panicked bread buying.

This week we have an intriguing Animals Run Amok.  It would appear that if you are on the  hunt for nearby Animals Running Amok  that Queens is your borough.  This past week the Fine Boys in Blue have had to capture a cow that realized just what that line of fellow bovine was all about and faster than you can say, ‘Peace Out Elsie‘ ran from the slaughterhouse at a high rate of speed (at least for a cow).  And if that wasn't enough, a goat broke free from his Humans.  Apparently this is not the first time this has gone down.  In 2011 another cow also made the break for freedom.   So should you be airport bound or just generally touring the boroughs of New York be on the lookout People! You just never know.   You can read about all of them here.  Enjoy.

If you are around this evening won’t you join us in the Art Gallery between 6 and 8 this evening for The Traveling Companion’s Art Reception?  There will be cheese, wine, some really nice art, and a chance to meet Bill.  If you all behave, there may even be some golf stories.  You just never know with that man! He’s full of surprises.

This week we have a horse, a prize, alien invasion, some heart and soul, and broken  trust.

Playlist Are the planets in alignment?  Then yes, yes we do!

Let us begin!

Laura enjoyed her latest read up to a point.  “The Mare by Mary Gaitskill is a story of many people.  Each chapter alternates from the perspectives of the characters.  These inner dialogs develop the story, showcasing desires, fears, anger, misgivings that, with all good intentions, ride dangerously close to the edge of not only emotional cliffs but also a cliff of class.  The story follows eleven-year old Velveteen Vargas, a Fresh Air child, who has to divide her time between the tough streets of Brooklyn, where her abusive mother, Silvia and younger brother, Dante, live, with the rural country home of childless artist and recovering alcoholic Ginger and Paul, her husband who is a  philandering professor.  They live across the street from a horse farm where Velvet finds a mare, Fugly Girl.  She has scars across her nose and an ear ‘out of sorts’  and  is set apart from the rest of the horses.  The two embark on a journey of self-actualization, much  to the consternation of the mother, the Fresh Air family, the trainers, and fellow privileged riders.  My book group met last night to discuss the story and gave Gaitskill high scores in her ability to represent the strivings and expectations of economic class.  Some liked the short chapters and the bouncing from one character’s thoughts to another, though, including me, I did find this tedious.  But still a good read of sensitivity and insight.”

Kaitlin from the Rock is BACK.  Here is what she has been doing.  “Hiyo! I'm a little late to the party on this one, but I'm currently reading All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr. I was somewhat wary of this one at first, I was afraid I wouldn't love it after all the hype it received after winning the Pulitzer Prize. I'm about halfway through now, and I don't want it to end!  It's really two stories about a boy and a girl in WWII, very beautifully woven into one. Each short chapter alternates between the points of view of Marie-Laure, a young blind girl who has had to flee Paris with her father once the Nazis invade, and Werner, a young German boy who was plucked from a foster home and placed into the Hitler Youth. I'm not quite sure where the story will go (I'm assuming they will collide!), but I can definitely see how it was deserving of some very high honors.  I'm currently listening to the YA audiobook The 5th Wave, by Rick Yancey. I absolutely love it. It's a nice break from the comedic audio books that I've been listening too, and it's just a really exciting book to hear being read out loud (it's very War of the Worlds!). The gist is that Earth is under invasion from aliens, and their calculated attacks have come in "waves"--the power was knocked out, a huge earthquake/tsunami struck, a plague has taken over, etc. Are the aliens walking among us, disguised as humans? We don't know! I really can't tell at this point which way the story will go, and I have no idea who to trust. I'm not sure if I'll see the movie, but I'll definitely keep listening!"

Sweet Ann has just finished Jacques Pepin's Heart and Soul in the Kitchen.  “I like to peruse cookbooks and this is one that I so loved, I bought it after I made a few of the recipes.  I at first thought Mr. Pepin's recipes would be a bit difficult to follow but I was wrong.  This is a beautiful book with pictures accompanying most of the recipes and interesting stories from Jacques.  I have made the Black Bread and Butter Lattice.   Don't worry that you have to bake the bread, you use a small cocktail pumpernickel bread that you slice and present a certain way after you have spread butter and horseradish on it.   It is delicious served with smoked salmon.  I have also made his Potatoes Rachel Ray, which he says his recipe was similar to hers, but hers were easier to make, so he has it in his cookbook...they were yummy.  I am not a pepper fan but his Carrots and Chives ask for pepper and I made them that way and once again his recipe was quite good.  I know there are still quite a few recipes I am looking forward to trying in the near future.   I highly recommend this cookbook to look through or to try some of the delicious recipes." 

The Always Delightful Pat S has just finished The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney.   “This is a debut novel about siblings, money, dashed dreams, and unrealistic expectations, you know, family. Four siblings who have long awaited the payday from a family trust are shocked to discover that the oldest, Leo, has decimated it due to his unwholesome antics. Each of the four had spent years planning how they would spend this sum. Such was their reliance on this money that each was now in varying stages of financial distress. Leo has promised to ‘make good’ to all  but will he? I am only halfway through the book but I can’t wait to find out. Told with a perfect balance of humor and poignancy, reading this book feels like spending time with old friends, -or family.”

Of course DJ Jazzy Patty McC is here from Meat Chicken with the final thoughts of the week.  What’s good Pats? "This week planets aligned. Friday evening, Winter Storm Jonas will hit the East Coast. Sunday evening we can once again watch the X Files and then out of the blue, my friend who swore she'd be #ForeverAlone, got engaged. Did I mention that the planets aligned and that they can be best viewed about an hour before dawn now through February 20th?

I think three out of four of these things deserve a viewing party! So if you see Jen at the Welcome Desk or on Ref, stop by gaze upon her finger and wish her and her Traveling Companion all the best. Congrats from our crew out here in the D, Jen! This weekend I hope you all survive Jonas winter blast with a load of good books, good food and family. A couple of snow days deserves a playlist. Happy weekend. Stay safe and warm.



You Are What You Read!

Greetings and welcome to the Powerball Hangover Edition of You Are What You Read.  That you all have this in your in-box reveals that while we were in it, we did not win it.  This week’s housekeeping is as follows. We will absolutely be open on Monday. There were no offerings which we are ok with because the Hellidaze hit our waistlines hard.  There was a lot of Animals Run Amok News this week but here are the two that I feel we need to talk about. Mary Lee Shark has pinged way way off the coast of Massachusetts leaving me wondering why.  If I were Mary Lee warmer waters would surely be calling my name.   Truly, given the choice between the frigid waters of the Northeast or the beautiful ocean waters off the Bahamas, I know what I’d pick.   There was also the video that was making the rounds of Jimbo the Bear hugging his human.  Jimbo, it should be noted, is a Kodiak bear that is 9 feet tall and 1,500 pounds.  I would like to remind you all about one of our favorite movies of all time, Grizzly Man, which is about a man who wanted to be “friends” with bears.  It does not end well.  Let’s all remember that when we get the urge to make a bear a friend shall we?  You can read about that here.

As a final bit of housekeeping, I am inviting all of you loyal You Are What You Read Readers to come to a special event next Friday evening.  The Traveling Companion aka Bill Fields has a photography exhibit in the Kim Huffard Art Gallery on the Lower Level and we will be feting him and his art next Friday between 6 and 8.  Won’t you all please stop by, have a glass of cheap warm wine in a plastic cup, some sub-par cubed cheese, say hi and take a look at his beautiful photographs, all of which are for sale.   I’ll be there, Bill will be there and I can guarantee this will be a Bear Free Event.

This week we have a caged bird, the death of a darling, mental illness, and a valley.

This week’s Playlist honors a life beautifully and artfully lived.

Let us begin!

Julia Rae has been spotted on the Welcome Desk during her school break.  Here’s what she was doing in her off hours.  “When I told my college roommate that I had not read Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, I was scared her eyes would pop out of her head. Now I know why. If you haven’t read the first in Angelou’s autobiographical series pick it up now! Not only is every line a poem of itself, but the book reveals a fascinating life story that will move you. I promise her voice will echo in your head in the days that follow reading. ‘Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with shades of deeper meaning.’ (Angelou)”

Steph is agog this week. “I gasped when I saw the title of Laurie R. King’s latest book: The Murder of Mary Russell. Could it be true? After thirteen delightful novels about the retired Sherlock Holmes and his protégé Mary Russell, was King really killing her darling? Well, I won’t tell you here. You will have to wait until the book is published in April to find out. But I will say that, once again, King has written a suspenseful and engaging mystery that held me from start to finish.”

Pat T is doing some serious reading this week. “After watching the 60 Minutes interview with Patrick Kennedy, I was interested in learning more about his book, A Common Struggle. Patrick Kennedy had all the privilege of his wealthy, famous family, but mental illness does not discriminate. By opening up about his own mental illness, Kennedy felt he might be able to bring ‘brain disease’ to the forefront. He struggled with alcoholism, drug addiction, bipolar and anxiety disorder and throughout his young life had many treatment sessions, only to relapse. As a recovering addict and alcoholic he has devoted his life's work to fighting the stigma of mental illness by engaging in conversation with the community, insurance companies and medical profession to create new laws and guidelines to support the millions of people who are adversely affected by disease.”

I was recently given a copy of Anna Quindlen’s new book that is coming out in April and I almost passed on it.  Her last few have been disappointing to my mind.  But I am pleased to report that she seems to be back in fighting form with Millers Valley. Mimi Miller's life is not an extraordinary one, but as told by Anna Quindlen it is an extraordinarily readable one.   Beginning in the 1960s we meet the Millers who have farmed in the Valley for generations.  Nothing can stay the same forever and it becomes evident that this includes the Valley, the definition of home and the life of Mimi herself.  Quindlen has done her usual masterful job of telling the story of one woman's life.  Look for it in early April.

DJ Jazzy Patty McC is here from That State Up North with the final thoughts of the week.  What’s good Pats? “ As a kid, I was fortunate to grow up in a house full of music lovers. My mother had an extraordinary album collection that I could play when I wanted, but I was never allowed to play my sisters’ albums. So when I was alone, I would sneak my sisters’ albums out and play them over and over. I was nine years old and Aladdin Sane by David Bowie was my favorite album. I had never heard anything like it. The drama and range of his vocals solidified a deep love in me for all things David Bowie. I’m sure everyone has their own favorite Bowie songs and albums. A club here in Detroit invited everyone out on Monday night to dance the night away to Bowie songs. I think the Thin White Duke would have liked that. One of the galleries in my town has quite a collection of Bowie’s art. I’ll have to stroll over this weekend and see what’s hanging.  Enjoy his final gift to us.

Wishing you all good health in this week of tremendous loss.


You Are What You Read!

Greetings and welcome to the first You Are What You Read of 2016.  This week’s housekeeping is as follows; many thanks to Dulcy B for the Offering of Taffy.  You were sweet to think of us and we thank you Dulcy BThe Animal World seems to be doing some form of hibernation as there is no Running Amok to report.  Even Mary Lee Shark seems to be quiet.  Here’s hoping that they aren’t all plotting something.

Since it’s the first You Are What You Read of the year what do you say if we talk resolutions?  While I for one am not a huge resolution person, I do welcome the idea that a new year means new beginnings however.  This year I have resolved to fret less about what the scale says and to listen to my body more.  Meaning if a very nice piece of dark chocolate just happens to find its way to my desk at 3 in the afternoon I am not beating myself up over the enjoyment of said chocolate.  Or if, perhaps if a lovely bourbon should be in my glass at 5:00, and I am not operating a piece of heavy farm machinery, I will sip it and be thankful for its appearance. I was rather fascinated by the news that the world’s oldest tortoise whose name is Jonathan has been given a new lease on life when a veterinarian changed his diet. Jonathan is 183 years old and lives on St. Helena Island in the Atlantic Ocean, an island of note because it was where Napoleon spent his exile and then died.  Jonathan showed up the year after all that went down (1882) so he is no way responsible. Well, it would appear that Jonathan was feeling rather peaked, which, if we are being honest, would seem perfectly normal to my mind should you also be 183 years old.  His eyesight and sense of smell was on the decline which meant he was having a hard time finding appropriate things to eat.   But no!  His doctor refused to let him go gentle into the good night and prescribed a diet high in calories and abundant with nice produce like bananas, guava, and apples.  With this new diet he has renewed energy, (although I think we need really think about what that could possibly look like in a tortoise, especially one that is 183 years old?),and it looks like he could make to 200 now.  You can read more about that here. So People!  Go forth and eat healthily happily, and without guilt this year! 

This week we have a cruise, a pandemic, Bombay, a binder full of women, and a woman to be reckoned with.

Playlist? It is resolved that our weekend have a soundtrack and so it shall come to pass!

Let us begin!

Sweet Ann is here with her thoughts on This is Your Life, Harriet Chance!  by Jonathan Evison.  “This enjoyable novel is indeed about the life of Harriet Chance. After her husband’s death, she receives the news that he had planned a cruise to Alaska and she is eligible to take it.  The novel goes back and forth in Harriet's life, from her birth, childhood, and decisions that made her life take the course it did using an interesting formula similar to the old television program, This is Your Life.    This is Your Life, Harriet Chance, is humorous and also quite poignant.  If you are looking for a quick read, you might want to see what goes on in Harriet Chance's life.”

Julie is joining us for the first time.  She can be found all over the library putting things back in their proper place! Welcome Julie! Here is what she thought about Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. “When Arthur dies while acting in King Lear, it sets the stage for a world-wide pandemic.  The earth’s entire infrastructure has also been wiped out.  A band of Shakespearian actors and musicians travels a well-worn route to towns nestled around the Great Lakes at great personal risk in this new dangerous world.   Can their love of performing and loyalty to their new friends and families bring a sense of normalcy and hope to the smattering of survivors?  This doomsday novel proves that people can overcome the most inconceivable adversities by creating a new world that reinvents itself with what had been held most precious in their pasts.”

Barbara M sent this to me with a cautionary note of having ‘finally broken free’ from this book.  While this does not bode well, I’ll let her clue you in on the rest. “I finally finished The Mountain Shadow by Gregory David Roberts, all 871 pages of it. Because I had loved Shantaram so much I had really high expectations for its sequel. Unfortunately, this book didn’t live up to its promise. The characters are stereotypical, the situations unbelievable and the philosophical platitudes tiresome. I finished the book out of sheer stubbornness. I will admit that Roberts, as in his first book, seems to have captured the atmosphere of Bombay.  Needless to say, I was very disappointed.”

Laura has just finished Mothers, Tell Your Daughters, by Bonnie Jo Campbell. “This may be a collection of short stories, but it reads like a thriller novel.  I couldn’t put it down. Set in rural Michigan, each story revolved around a heroine; a mother, a sister, or a grandmother. Some have careers, while others are more traditional, and others are emerging and new to womanhood.  All of them are suffering a crisis of some kind; abuse, addiction, poverty, infidelity.  The stories range from introspective and funny to gritty and dark so I warn readers this is not a book to curl up with.  I have taken the title of this book to heart.  Seriously, Mothers, read this book, and then talk to your daughters and your sons.  Fearless and raw, each story delves deeply into the layers of each woman’s life. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants more than stories to read.      

The Always Delightful Pat S dove into Clementine: The Life of Mrs. Winston Churchill by Sonia Purnell over the Hellidaze. “Sonia Purnell has provided a thoroughly compelling portrait of the life of the woman who would be Mrs. Winston Churchill for over sixty years. Born into ‘poor but noble’ circumstances, Clementine Hozier emerged from childhood as shy, self-reliant, and intensely private.  Beautiful, she had already made and broken two engagements by the time she met the young Churchill at a dinner party. Together they built a partnership which brought him to the highest position in his country-and one he never would have achieved alone. Clementine believed in his inherent ‘greatness’ enough to be honest with him. Churchill believed in her wisdom enough to listen to her. Self-important and somewhat of a bully, Churchill was almost wholly impervious to the advice of others. It was only his wife’s wise counsel that corrected his social and political blunders, and kept him on course as he navigated the road to Prime Minister. Since there has been so little written about Clementine Churchill, this is a particularly credible and welcome addition to the Churchill archives.  Since I also just read Lady Bird and Lyndon, I could hardly help but draw comparisons between the two women. First and foremost, they both married narcissists, and how they managed to survive without turning to drugs or drink boggles the mind. They fact that they both thrived is inspiring!”

DJ Jazzy Patty McC is here from That State Up North to tell us what’s what.  What’s good Pats?  “Welcome back! I hope you’ve all enjoyed the break along with a good book or two. For those of you who read this regularly, you’ll remember that my family does not make New Year’s resolutions, however we do work together to create a yearly theme. This year we’ve dubbed it, “The Year of Improvement and Movement”.  I invite you to create your own family theme and don’t forget to include a soundtrack. Happy New Year! “


You Are What You Read!

Greetings and welcome to the Yuletide Edition of You Are What You Read.  This issue is momentous in that it is the last edition for Fall 2015, and the most decidedly last for 2015 period.  Fall ends officially on the 22nd and we are closed on the 24th, 25th and the 1st.  With all these short weeks, we are on hiatus until January 8th when I will be back in your In-Box as usual Friday at 5.  This week’s housekeeping is as follows.  There were no Offerings that I could see anyway.  While Animals are keeping the Running Amok on the down low, Nature is completely confused about what season this is.  Please note the flowering cherry trees along the drive between us and Michael Joseph’s are actually, well, flowering.  In December. Feel free to discuss.

The Hellidaze are here People!  Ready or not, a week from now we will be knee deep in spent wrapping paper and pine needles.  For my father’s family the week before was dedicated to the making of the Eggnog!  This Eggnog was the one thing we could all agree on.  It was delicious and it was deadly.  You had to make it a week before and please, for the love of God, do not, repeat, DO NOT place the punch bowl near an open flame. The reason for this will be evident once the recipe is read.  We made it a week ahead and it lived on the back porch for a week where it would mellow into something glorious, silken, rich and lovely.  This year is probably not going to be cold enough for that but I bet that you all have a refrigerator that will do just as well as a screened in porch in December.  Please believe me when I tell you that you will never go back to store bought again and it will make even that weird uncle of yours seem charming. The recipe was from the original Fanny Farmer and it goes like this. 

You will need the following:

12 eggs yolks
12 egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 quart heavy cream, beaten with nice soft peaks
1 quart milk
1 quart bourbon whiskey
1 cup rum

Beat your egg yolks with the 1 cup sugar and salt until very light.  A stand mixer is your friend here or if you have a man in your world, who wants to show off his guns, get him off the couch, away from the television and put him to use here.  Beat your whites until soft peaks form and then add in the ½ cup of sugar. Combine your whites and yolks very gently. Beat in the whipped cream, then the milk.  Stir in the bourbon.  Add the rum, stir that in well too.  Pour into a storage vessel and wait a week.  When it has been a week, bust out that punch bowl and cup set your Nana left you that you don’t know what to do with for the other 364 days of the year and don’t forget the freshly grated nutmeg for the top. The pre-grated stuff WILL NOT DO. 

While you sip this, feel free to ponder that one gift that leaves you speechless and wondering if your family knows anything about you at all (there’s always one).   If you need even more escape, please accept our gift of an additional 5 downloads from Hoopla from now til the end of January for a grand total of 10 downloads!  It’s our gift to you.  Happy Hellidaze People!  Now go forth and Fa-La-La!  See you next year.

This week we have The Resistance, Kennedys, and some sisters.

The Playlist?  Of course we haveThe Playlist! We are full of Fa-La-La and eggnog dammit.

Let us begin!

The Always Delightful Pat S is enjoying some history with The Cost of Courage by Charles Kaiser.  “The Cost of Courage sheds light on the important role played by the French resistance during Nazi occupation of France in WWII. Based on an upper-middle class Parisian family, the Boulloches, Kaiser tells the story of a fairly unremarkable family whose lives were forever changed by the fall of France in 1940.  Three of their four children would ultimately join the Resistance, where with little or no training,  they stuck with their determination to subvert the Nazis at every turn. Even with unimaginable good luck, one of them would ultimately be shot and imprisoned in the camps. But what was it? Was it love of hearth and home, patriotism, or altruism that made these three (among thousands of others) choose such a dangerous path? This book is part history, memoir, thriller, and very engaging! For anyone who loved Nightingale, this is a must!”

The Fabulous Babs B has been reading Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter by Kate Clifford Larson and here’s what she thinks.  “Rose Kennedy's diaries and correspondence, school and doctors' letters,  and exclusive family interviews bring Rosemary alive as a girl.  While adored, she was left far behind by her competitive siblings.  The author reveals not only the sensitive care Rose and Joe gave Rosemary but also the often desperate and duplicitous arrangements the family to keep her away from home as she became increasingly difficult to control in her early twenties.  Joe's decision to have Rosemary lobotomized at twenty three, and the disastrous outcome fuel the family's complicity in keeping her disability a secret.  Rosemary's story comes alive against the broader and often shocking background of 20th century attitudes toward the intellectually disabled.  This story really disturbed me and stayed with me a long time.”

Abby has just finished Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter. “I’ve read almost everything by Karin Slaughter. I’ve enjoyed her Will Trent and Sara Linton crime series set in Atlanta. So I was a bit surprised when I couldn’t get into her standalone novel Cop Town, but based on good buzz, felt her latest standalone Pretty Girls would be a better fit. Pretty Girls focuses on two grown sisters following the disappearance of their other sister decades before. The family was never able to grieve as they needed because of the sister’s ultimate fate was never determined. Now in adulthood and estranged from one another, one sister is recovering from multiple addictions, while the other sister lives a lavish existence in a gated community. When the wealthy sister’s husband is attacked, the sisters reconcile to piece together some troubling facts that take them down a road they never expected. The book was a page turner, but ultimately Slaughter’s excessive use of repetitive disturbing imagery and sadistic practices made the book feel borderline exploitative. I’m hoping she’ll return to Will and Sara soon, with a book I can confidently pick-up knowing I’ll get a suspenseful story with a good police angle.”

DJ Jazzy Patty McC is here from That State Up North with the final musings for 2015 and of course The Playlist!  What’s good Pats? “ It’s time to wrap up the year in shiny paper and tie it all together with a great, big bow. Time for us all to relax and recharge. Our forecast here for Christmas Day is 56 degrees. I think I’m going to bust out my white jeans and a sassy pair of sandals for the day. The weather is just that crazy. There will be no skiing this year. There isn’t even any snow Up North. Seriously, we don’t even have any snow on Mackinac Island. It feels like anything goes in the weather department. Now, something that always goes with this time of year is the Year End “Best Of” Playlist. Those favorite bands and albums that have made any bad days a little bit brighter and helped us get on with the day. Music has those wonderful healing properties and I am happy to share with you some of my favorite albums from the year. I hope you share this holiday season with your own loved ones and enjoy whatever the Weather Gods bring your way. Remember to dress appropriately. I recommend the layered San Francisco style of dressing. Wishing you Happy Holidays from The Mitten. “

DL BEST OF 2015 

You Are What You Read!

Greetings and welcome to the Christmas in Cali Edition of You Are What You Read!  This week’s housekeeping is as follows. There were no Offerings this week. That’s fine.  Christmas is coming and I am sure you all will make your love known.  In Animals Run Amok News there was this video of a cat taking down a toddler.   The Traveling Companion refuses to believe the feline had malice in its heart. I maintain that cats are just waiting for their chance to kill.  Discuss.  Also in Mississippi, there was an 18 wheeler that overturned and let out its cargo all over I-20.  The cargo just happened to be 100 cows that then proceeded to shut down the road with their shenanigans.  You can read about that here.

Steph passed along a disturbing news item this week.  Some demented magician in London dressed up two ten-year-old girls in Victorian costumes, placed giant doll heads on them and posed them in and around London. You can read about that here.  Really, aren’t we all on edge enough?  Do we really need to add Weird Doll Twins to that mix?  I’ve never hear of this dude but frankly I think he should be ashamed of himself. Did he not see The Shining?

It’s hard to believe that two weeks from today we will be on the Christmas Downswing.  It’s hard to feel all sorts of Fa-La-La when it’s 60 degrees and sunny.  Frankly I find it hard to feel all sorts of Fa-La-La most of the time. Add that crazy morning fog to the mix and it feels a whole lot more like Halloween than Yuletide. I have a confession to make.  I am feeling partially responsible for this unseasonable warmth.  I finally broke down and bought myself a down coat and it arrived this week.  As you all know by now, I commute via train and this involves a mile walk to the stations on both ends.  Last winter I braved this in my little cloth coat. It was a long winter. This year I am determined to make an unpleasant situation (winter) bend to my will.  So I have purchased a down coat, and I will be investing in a 6 month parking pass for the station on my home end. Get ready for the mildest winter ever People!  And feel free to pass this information on to folks in Paris chatting Climate Change.  They may be interested to know that I have a hand in this.

This week we have abduction, the dump, some Gingers, a little book, and a faith healer.

Playlist?  You know it!

Let us begin!

Sweet Ann has just finished up The Lake House by Kate Morton. “This is my first Kate Morton novel and I can't wait to go back and read her earlier work.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book, the story, writing style and setting.  The main story takes place in Cornwall, England in 1933 but also travels to the present and years before 1933.  When the novel opens baby Theo is abducted from his crib while his nanny dozes as a large party is taking place outside on the grounds of the family estate.  Many years later a young detective staying with her grandfather after having a bad incident at work stumbles upon the estate that has fallen to ruin.  After hearing the history of the house and the disappearance of the baby, the detective decides to investigate the baby's disappearance in 1933.   Two elderly siblings of the baby are still alive each holding a secret as to what happened that night in the nursery.  Their deceased mother's journals are also found to contain some startling new information. This is a book about a family, family secrets and the consequences of protecting oneself and others.  I loved it.”

John The Wizard of Minecraft is here with what he’s been diving into.  “This past weekend, I finished up John Irving’s latest, Avenue of Mysteries. It’s a bit of a departure from his previous novels while also seemingly more autobiographical. It’s a book about a Mexican ‘dump kid’ and his mind-reading younger sister who can only be understood by her brother. The story flips between their childhood in the basurero (dump) and the brother, Juan Diego, as an adult as he travels to the Philippines to fulfill a promise he made to a draft-dodging hippy as a boy. Irving elaborates upon religious themes that will be familiar to his devoted readers. He also adds a subtle mix of supernatural that feels a little like A Prayer for Owen Meany. As a lifelong Irving fan, I was not disappointed, but it does feel like Avenue of Mysteries was winding down the author’s career and I'm left wondering, will this be his last?”

Barbara M who it should be noted is not a Ginger is here with Red: A History of the Redhead.
“Because my grandmother and a cousin were carrot tops I was drawn to Jacky Colliss Harvey’s book Red: A History of the Redhead. As the author says; for many red-heads the color of their hair is ‘…the single most significant characteristic of their life.’ Red hair is rare, it is a recessive gene which occurs in only 2% of the population, and rarely goes unnoticed. There are many myths and misconceptions about red-headed people and the author explores many of them. Harvey debunks the rumor that they are about to become extinct and examines some of the physical abnormalities found in red heads. For example, they need about 20% more anesthesia than the rest of the population and they may be more sensitive to pain. She also traces the red-head through history, art, and folklore. This is a well-researched, fascinating book.”

Pat T can be found, as always, listening. “I listened to Jason Gay's debut collection of essays, Little Victories: Perfect Rules for Imperfect Living, and it is a book with a powerful message. The author wants the reader to understand it is not a self-help book, crash diet book or how to succeed book. It's just a book to make you laugh and who doesn't need a little laughter in their life?!  Some of his stories are poignant; when he talks about his Dad's illness, and his own cancer diagnosis, while other stories are laugh out loud funny.  Such as when he talks about new age parenting in NYC, joining a gym or his take on technology in our everyday lives. The author's message is that we are more apt to find happiness by taking pleasure from our daily life experiences, rather than trying  to measure happiness by the one big accomplishment we hope to achieve. Sit back, relax and enjoy the holidays with this delightful book!”

Steph is here talking about  one of our most favorite prizes, The Costa!  For those not in the know, the Costa is an English prize that celebrates not only Good Writing but also a Good Story. “It’s Costa season again…and I’ve kicked it off with a nominee for the Costa First Novel Award, The Girl in the Red Coat, by Kate Hamer. Told in two voices, the story drifts about for a few chapters and then really begins when dreamy, sweet eight-year-old Carmel Wakeford goes missing while out with her mum at a local fair. In alternate chapters, the book follows Carmel’s journey with a faith healer all around the United States, as well as her mother Beth’s anxious searching and grief. After a certain point, it’s almost impossible to put down, because you simply must know—will they see each other again, and if they do, will they know each other? Perfect for fans of Sophie Hannah and will even delight those who generally like their thrillers more gory—the tension is just that strong. This book doesn’t technically come out in the US until February, but we have sneakily imported a few in from the UK, so you can read it before anybody else!”

DJ Jazzy Patty McC is here from the State Up North, a state that has not seen a win over OSU in 1476 days, with some final climate change musings.  What’s good Pats? “Honestly, this year feels a little like when I lived in California. It never really felt like Christmas until I boarded the plane and disembarked into the cold, frozen snow banks of Michigan. Now don’t get me wrong, I am thrilled that we are having wonderful, mild weather this time of year but this warm, foggy weather has been a challenge for me to get into the spirit of the season. I was reminded last night by one of the cousins that in two weeks we will be celebrating this Pagan holiday around a tree moved indoors and that I need to motivate because a menu is needed for 30 people pronto. So, in order to remedy my lack of enthusiasm, I shall begin baking holiday sweets and planning elaborate menus for the impending feast. I couldn’t do it without a playlist and neither should you. I’m hoping this will put us all in a merry, jolly mood. I recommend that you listen to this nine-hour playlist on shuffle as it contains some of the best, classic Christmas albums of all time. ‘Tis the season, now enjoy!”


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