Greetings! I hope this week’s You Are What You Read finds everyone well and ready for the weekend. The message from The SoNo Loft this week is ‘Build Your Bridge’. For me, this week has seen some bridges and they are mostly bridges to the Past. A friend alerted me to the following story about some dolls made by Thomas Edison 1890. Now, we all know how I feel about an antique doll. Imagine how I feel about an antique doll that not only has teeth but can, wait for it, speak. I have included the link to the story here, but I can in no way be responsible for your nightmares should you play the audio. These little charmers have been silent for many years because of the fragility of the wax cylinders that live in their tiny terrifying bodies. With the advent of a new technology the voices of the dolls were able to be heard for the first time in decades. This was not an Edison success apparently (they were expensive and people wanted their lips to move!) and he ended up calling them his ‘little monsters’. Consider yourselves warned should you decide to investigate further. I am relieved to report that the dolls themselves are back in a display cabinet in Wisconsin. Let’s hope it’s locked. The other story is the opposite of creepy and is in fact charming. In a high school in Oklahoma City during some renovations a discovery was made. Behind some chalkboards that were being removed so white boards could be installed in their place, were chalkboards that last saw the light of day in December 1917. Apparently they had been covered up during a December weekend when the ‘new’ boards were installed. This is not the cool part. The cool part is that they had not been erased and were perfectly preserved with the day’s lessons. It would appear that the pressing concerns were pilgrims, cleanliness, Christmas countdowns and multiplication tables. They are beautiful works of art and they make me ashamed of the scrawl that I call my handwriting. No one can be sure why the boards were covered up with new chalkboards but the janitors did take some time to sign their names before they did. The school is trying to figure out the best way to preserve them so that they can be enjoyed by all. That story can be found here. So enjoy these voices from a past that may seem long ago but still have something to say. This week we have a secret society, death, a hike, some dark secrets, a dog and some London. The Playlist this week is our bridge to some ghostly fun.
Let us begin!
Virginia the Tall Cool Texan is letting you in on a little something about herself. “I love a good conspiracy theory. Add some American history, throw in a secret society or two, and you have the perfect book recipe for me. Brad Meltzer successfully created this winning combination in his first two books The Fifth Assassin and The Inner Circle which introduce readers to Beecher White, a young staffer working at the National Archives in Washington D.C., who along with a childhood friend, inadvertently discovers a long buried national secret. This knowledge brings Beecher to the attention of The Culper Ring, a secret society that was created by George Washington to protect the presidency that is still in existence. In the third book of the series, The President’s Shadow, Beecher has embraced his role as a member of The Culper Ring and is desperately trying to find the link between his own past and that of a dangerous fringe group. The book tries to tie up all of the loose ends from the previous two novels, and at times is enthralling, but overall it was missing the historical factoids that made the first two novels so interesting. I would definitely recommend this book especially for Brad Meltzer fans, but if you haven’t read the first two in the series then start there before picking up this one. “
Barbara M is here with a topic that while less than pleasant is one that must be addressed. “I am not quite finished with Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande. This is a hard book to read because no one wants to think about dying; whether it be for themselves or a loved one. But, we all will die. That is the reality. It is how we face it and deal with it that can make a difference. It was easier when extended families lived together and when there weren’t as many medical ‘miracles’ available. Dr. Gawande writes about some solutions but more importantly he makes us think about what we want for ourselves and our loved ones at the end of life. Death is certain but the time and circumstance is not. This is a thought provoking and well written book that should be read by all.”
The Ever Delightful Pat S is doing some head scratching. “How is it that no-one ever alerted me to the humor in Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods? Published in 1996, this is a travel book of the first order and I am so delighted that circumstances forced me to read it. Having returned to living in the United States after living overseas for a length of time, Bryson decides to walk the 2,100 mile Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. Neither athlete nor naturalist, Bryson recounts his preparation and execution of said plan with droll wit. Early on he realizes that perhaps hiking 2,100 miles in virtual solitude may not be the safest nor sanest undertaking, and invites his old friend Stan Katz to join him. Part sage, part buffoon, Katz provides some of the high points of hilarity throughout the book. Clearly Bryson did significant research for this book and intersperses the hike with the history of the Trail as well as the government groups responsible for its maintenance. Additionally, he deftly describes various flora and fauna -and the deleterious effect of urbanization on the landscape. While I don’t believe I’ll be signing up for a similar adventure in the near future (or frankly, ever), I am certainly grateful that Bryson shared his experience.”
The Always Fabulous Babs B has just finished Where They Found Her by Kimberly McCreight.
“From the author of Reconstructing Amelia comes this psychological suspense tale about a journalist who uncovers her community's darkest secrets after a newborn's body is found in the woods. The story centers on three women, one of whom is a freelance journalist who is unexpectedly called upon to cover this horrible news. Unfortunately, Molly has gone through a severe depression following the loss of her own baby which makes it extremely hard to accept this assignment. Her investigation reveals a decades-old trail of dark secrets hiding behind the town's white picket fences. This is a great thriller and I didn't regret a minute. There was a big twist at the end which I never saw coming!!
It’s no secret that Pat T loves dogs so this week’s book comes as no surprise. “Dog Crazy by Meg Donohue is the perfect summer read for dog and book lovers! Maggie Brennan has relocated to San Francisco and has started a pet bereavement business where she spends a lot of time helping her patients cope with their loss. Unfortunately she hasn't confronted her own loss of her childhood pet dog, Toby, who passed away shortly after she arrived in San Francisco. She is also dealing with a case of agoraphobia which has made her a prisoner in her own home. Maggie's life is upended when a new client shows up, not for bereavement counseling, but needing help with the search and rescue of her stolen dog. While helping Anya search for her dog, Maggie faces her own fears and opens her life to new possibilities! This story speaks to the love and healing powers of pets in our lives.”
Steph is embracing the season this week and is still more than a little freaked by a chick with a brick. ”I am getting into the summer mood with a nice Victorian mystery this week. The Yard by Alex Grecian came up on hold for me this week. Why? I have no idea! Somebody must have recommended it to me, but I don’t remember who. If you’re out there, recommender, I thank you because I really enjoyed it! Set in London just after Jack the Ripper has stopped terrorizing the city; this book follows a few mysteries and the Scotland Yard detectives on the newly-created Murder Squad who tries to solve them. It has a great plot and a nice fast pace, though the characters are a little thin. It would be an excellent beach book for fans of Anne Perry’s Charlotte and Thomas Pitt (as well as folks like me, who were fans of Anne Perry but are now morally conflicted about reading her new books).”
Here’s DJ Jazzy Patty McC from that State Up North. Not only does she have some final thoughts, but she’s got The Playlist too. What’s good Pats? I’ve been thinking a lot about the recently discovered 1917 chalkboards in Oklahoma, the Loft’s message of “Build Your Bridge” and graduations taking place everywhere. It’s a season of hope and endless possibility right on the cusp of summer. It’s also the season for quoting Robert Frosts’, “The Road Not Taken”. This oft-quoted poem is read in bits and pieces for school graduations all across our fair land and is interpreted in different ways. Mostly folks interpret the poem with a core message of the traveler taking “the one less traveled by, / And that has made all the difference.” In this interpretation, it suggests that we should strike out and live a non-conformist life, march to the music of our own playlist. Or it can be read as a romanticized look back, “What if I had chosen a different path… What if…” To me, it reads as a poem about endless possibilities, endless choices and every road in between. I wonder if those teachers of 1917 read the Frost poem to their students. I wonder if they wrote about that poem on their chalkboards. I wonder if these ghosts were encouraged to build their own bridge if one did not exist. I’d like to think so.
DL GHOSTLY VISIONS 2015