Greetings! And welcome to a pollen coated You Are What You Read. I don’t know about you all but I am actually hopeful that we get that promised rain this weekend so that we can begin to wash some of this Yellow Menace off every conceivable surface that it has settled on (but not on Saturday! I am looking at you Cathy!). It’s a Blizzard of Pollen out there, People! My blue car, which The Traveling Companion derisively and with a sneer refers to as Duke blue and which I refer to as recycling bin blue is actually a rather lurid and shocking shade of green these days. On Wednesday, I was in the City with some of my Fairfield Library Friends and we were all bemoaning our allergy reddened eyes, slow and sleepy minds and sandpapery throats. My long desired runs to the water have turned into exercises in wheezing, coughing and just generally trying to catch my breath after a few steps. I just keep telling myself that this is the price we pay for that blissful scent of lilacs and viburnum in the air. And really isn’t that what we have been wishing/hoping/praying for? The Always Delightful Pat S received the following advice from her doctor on how to deal with this. This doctor recommended that, in addition to the usual doses of insert your favorite allergy meds here, your hair be washed every night prior to bed. Apparently hair is a pollen magnet and while we sleep, it leaves the hair and migrates to the pillow case which ensures a night of breathing in more of the Menace than you should. The good doctor also recommended that we not sleep with windows open but with the a/c on to filter the air. Pat S is happy to report that both of these things have helped loads. So Soldier on People! This is the Price We Must Pay! And no worries, this is a temporary condition much like Spring itself. This week we have a runaway, a stranger, a cult and a coroner, and a very timely Issue. Of course we have The Playlist! Even if it does have an oddly yellow cast this week.
Let us begin!
Sweet Ann has just finished The Dynamite Room by Jason Hewitt. “I thought this was a well written thought provoking book about WWII. Eleven year old Lydia has run away from where she was evacuated to earlier in the war. She makes it back to her English village which is deserted. When she arrives at her home it is closed up and there is no sign of her mother. She is able to gain entrance to the house and thinks she will just wait for her mother to come home and her father to return from the war. While in her room that first night she hears someone entering the house and that someone turns out to be Heider, a German soldier. This novel explores Heider's life before the war when he was a musician in love with a beautiful fellow musician. His life was so happy and then he was drafted in to the war. When you read his war stories, it explains the reason for the title of the book and the fate of an integral character in the story. I highly recommend this book; it is quite a page turner.
Virginia the Tall Cool Texan is here this week with this: The Stranger, Harlan Coben. “Some skeletons are best left in the closet. That is what Adam Price discovers after he is approached by a stranger one night with evidence of his wife’s deepest secret. But what is the cost of the truth? In Harlan Coben’s newest thriller, The Stranger, Adam’s world is upended in one single moment and everything he is always taken for granted is turned upside down. His wife won’t confirm or deny the secret so Adam starts his own investigation. What he uncovers, is a larger and for more dangerous conspiracy at play that puts his family at risk. How far will he go to know the truth? Overall, I enjoyed this book. It is a light thriller and a fairly quick read with an unexpected ending which I really didn’t see coming.”
Laura is taking a page form Jeanne’s playbook and is here with two things this week. “The Witness Wore Red: The 19th Wife Who Brought Polygamous Cult Leaders to Justice is a memoir by Rebecca Musser about her escape from her family’s polygamous lifestyle. She was married in her early 20’s to 85-year old elder, and her people’s supreme prophet Rulon Jeffs. She took the witness stand to save her sisters and the other girls who would be subject, at very young ages, to early marriages. Her testimony in 2007 brought about the raid by Texas Rangers of the Yearning for Zion Ranch and the arrests of its leader. Some received life sentences behind bars once the abusive and manipulative atrocities were learned. It is a gripping read as she relays how she was taught to believe the outside world was ‘dangerous’ and that the houses and communities they lived in had secret hiding rooms, and walls, where the children and wives could hide if someone from the outside entered their realm. Book number two, The Coroner’s Lunch by Colin Cotterill is a murder mystery set in Laos, in 1976, after America pulled out of Vietnam. New socialist government systems are being put in place and Siri, the 72 year-old doctor of medicine, who was hoping for retirement after many years of good service, is unwillingly pressed into service as a coroner in a post-war, underfunded and poorly equipped morgue. A prominent politician’s wife dies suddenly while dining with friends and Siri is suspicious of her demise, especially when her husband retains her body quickly for cremation. Three mysterious murders coincide and Siri is further embroiled in cross border politics, spying neighbors, victim hauntings, etc. I consider this my first beach read of the season.”
Julia Rae is back with us fresh from her first year in college! Stop by the desk and say hi why don’t you? Here’s her take on a book about a timely issues. “I found some time at school to read The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander, and I’m so glad I did. Alexander provides her readers with a thorough, yet gripping, history of the racial Caste System in the U.S. She then gets right into the thick of how past Caste systems play a role in today’s society. The main thread throughout the book is the problem of Mass Incarceration and how the prison population is made up disproportionately by minorities. Alexander meticulously connects the dots to show readers how detrimental Mass Incarceration is, and how it indicates rampant racism in the government today. It was extremely interesting to read this book with the backdrop of everything that is happening in Baltimore. I think everyone, especially college age people, should read this book. Everything I thought I knew about racism in the U.S. has changed since reading.” Welcome back Julia! We missed you!
DJ Jazzy Patty McC is here from that State Which Shall Not Be Named with The Playlist and some musings of the etymological kind. What’s good Pats? “Happy Palindrome Week! What’s that, you ask? Well, a palindrome is a phrase, word, number or a sequence of characters that reads the same forwards and backwards. If you’re a massively talented writer, filmmaker and essayist like Georges Perec you write a Grand Palindrome in French that’s 5,556 letters in length. The Oxford English Dictionary lists the longest palindromic word as the onomatopoeic word tattarrattat coined by James Joyce in Ulysses for a knock on the door. I’m a huge fan of the Oulipo, short for the French “Ouvrior de litterature potentielle” or workshop of potential literature. The Oulipo was founded in 1960 by a group of mainly French-speaking writers and mathematicians who created works through a series of severe writing constraints. Some of the more famous members are Raymond Queneau, Francois Le Lionnais, Georges Perec, Italo Calvino and Jacques Roubaud. Every day this week, the dates align themselves to a natural palindrome. No forced constraints are needed. I think we should all celebrate it by reading Life, A User's Manual: A Novel or Numbers In The Dark : And Other Stories. Need something to read to the kids? Yep, we’ve got that too! Mom And Dad Are Palindromes: A Dilemma For Words...And Backwards. The playlist is not a palindrome this week but now I want to create one. Until then enjoy some fresh new tunes to put a little spring in your step and exercise those brain muscles.”