It was such a dreary week, wasn’t it? We have been so spoiled that when a bit of rain does happen to fall it befuddles us. I did have a patron say to me that she had been craving weather such as this so that she had an excuse to hole up and read. I for one never felt the need for excuses but, hey, if that makes you feel better have at it. It looks like a nice weekend is in store and really isn’t that what we hope for anyway? This week we have wisdom, a spy, some hype, PTSD and a new favorite. Of course there is a playlist. Of course!
Let us begin!
Abby is back to reading one of her favorites. “When I finished Louise Penny’s 9th Chief Inspector Gamache novel last year I wondered where she would take the series. Her latest, The Long Way Home while a satisfying read, leaves me with the same question: what’s next? Newly retired Armand Gamache and his wife have set up house in Three Pines, the serene village outside of Montreal too small and hidden to appear on maps. Gamache gets drawn into helping one of his neighbors locate a missing person. While the mystery piece is not strong here, Penny continues to go deeper into the lives of her characters granting them a lovely mix of vulnerabilities, strengths, and quirks. The emphasis here is on how even the strong must tend to themselves and the wisdom we can all take away from the four things Gamache teaches new officers to express: I was wrong, I'm sorry, I don't know, I need help. “
Sweet Ann has just finished Red Joan by Jennie Rooney. “This is quite an engaging spy novel based on a true story of an eighty-seven-year-old British woman arrested as the longest KGB spy in Great Britain's history. Joan, the main character, is a brilliant young woman who in the late 1930's is studying science at Cambridge. Her life is that of a typical student until Sonya, a Russian student, enters her life. She introduces Joan to her cousin Leo who will introduce Joan to the world of espionage. Joan is quite reluctant at first to get involved but circumstances change. The story alternates between Joan as an elderly woman being questioned by M15 and her days at college working for the British government during the beginning of World War ll. This is an intriguing read about the choices people make and the reasons for doing so. I thought it was well written although perhaps a little bit long.”
The Tall Cool Texan Virginia has just finished one of my favorites of the year. What did you think VA? “Believe the hype about Jane Smiley’s newest book, Some Luck, because it deserves all of the praise and accolades it has been receiving. This epic saga tells the story of Iowan farmers, Rosanna and Walter Langdon, and their children over a 30 year time period, starting in the 1920s. Each chapter represents a new year in their lives and is told from the perspective of different family members. Smiley does a masterful job of creating the personalities of each character and giving the reader an intimate look at their unique realities, from the highs and to the lows. Nothing is spared. While reading Some Luck, I am not sure if I felt more like a fly on the wall or a distant cousin, but all I know is by the end of the book I cared about the Langdon family and wanted to know where the next 30 years would take each of them. Luckily, Smiley has planned this as a trilogy so we can expect to see more of the Langdon family.“
Steph is here and she has taken to heart a patron recommendation. I’ll let her tell you all about it. “Over the weekend, I read A Test of Wills, by Charles Todd, after a book group read it and highly recommended it. This is the first of sixteen books in the Inspector Ian Rutledge series, a detective mystery series set in Britain after the First World War. In this book, Rutledge is still suffering from what we would now call PTSD, which he experiences primarily as a voice in his head, of a young man who he sentenced to death during the war. He rejoins Scotland Yard after coming home, and is sent to the countryside to investigate a politically sensitive murder in a town where nobody wants to talk to him. He’s plunged into several small town dramas and, having no one to trust, tries to solve the crime alone. It’s not a book with a lot of twists, but it definitely kept me guessing right up until the end. The book rotates through several points of view, but really focuses on Rutledge’s, giving it the same feel as a Tana French or Denise Mina novel. It’s a great series for fans of those writers, or any reader who likes the combination of a detective’s psychology and a well-plotted mystery. I can’t wait to read more books in this series!
Now that the night comes on faster and the weather has turned cooler, I can be found back playing in my kitchen which most of you know makes me happy. This time of year brings out the nesting instinct in us all I think. My latest companion in the kitchen is One Pot: 120+ Easy Meals from Your Skillet, Slow Cooker, Stockpot, and More by the Editors of Martha Stewart Living. The conceit here is that you can make your dinner in one pot, be that pot a Dutch oven, a sheet pan, or a slow cooker. The chapters are dedicated to whatever vessel you choose to be using and there are some really great recipes in here. So far the favorites are salmon roasted with kale and cabbage and dressed in a lemon vinaigrette, and sausages and potatoes braised in ale. The other thing I love about this book is that it takes one basic recipe and changes it up 4 different ways. I can totally see this as a wedding gift with one or more of the pots alongside. Make sure you grab a copy for yourself!
DJ Jazzy Patty McC is here from The State That Shall Not Be Named (35 days until The Game!) and she has some questions for us. What’s good Pats? “Are we what we read? That seems to be the thesis of this weekly missive. But an interesting debate has once again emerged. This dialogue always fascinates me, and finds me swimming right into the deep end of this meta-discussion. The debate is about reading, specifically the types of books children should be allowed to or encouraged to read. There are two camps in this debate. The ‘just so long as they’re reading’ camp versus the ‘from pulp to Proust? No way, start them with real literature and classics’ camp. I would like to offer another version. While there may be some truth to You Are What You Read, it is far too reductive and simplistic. Aren’t we more complex than that? Take, for example, my seven-year-old son who frequented the reference desk asking for books on fighter planes, as he had already read all the books on planes in the Children’s Library. His interest that began with planes led him naturally to want more complex texts as he desired more knowledge. As a culture we get anxious when it comes to our children and reading. There exists anxiousness that, as parents, if we don’t give our children the right kind of books they will somehow be deficient. My daughter is a voracious reader and my son is well on his way. I trust that their love of stories and what’s going to happen next will serve them well and that they will go on to read difficult texts with complex storylines. As adults don’t we sometimes need a little light reading to break up an otherwise steady stream of serious novels or non-fiction? Does anyone exclusively read serious literature 24-7? What is wrong with a slice of pulp fiction or a light-hearted beach book with a side of romance or danger? I say, nothing. After all, We Are What We Read…DL WHY ARE YOU WHAT YOU READ? 2014