Readers of YAWYR who have come late-ish to our party often ask me, “What is the SoNo Loft? How can a Loft have a message? Is this some kind of cult? Just what are you constantly referring to week after week? Do these pants make me look fat?” Well New Friends (no, not you Susan from Fairfield Cheese Company), the SoNo Loft is probably the only charming piece of my rather charmless commute these days. Whoever is living/working in the space attached to this deck takes great care every week to paint a banner and hang it from the railing of their deck. What makes this especially cool is that it is a message that is only visible from one side of the train, only going into New York and you can’t see it from the street. This is a message crafted just for us and it is without exception happy, upbeat, and thought provoking. It is a nice way to begin the work week and it can sometimes totally set the tone for what is to follow. I have been trying to get a picture via the cell phone for a while now and this week I succeeded! The Traveling Companion (thank you Bill F – now you know his real name) tried to smooth some of the rough edges and prettied it up for me so this week I present to you The SoNo Loft and its rather lovely message of ‘Keep Calm and Think On.’ And yes, I think those pants would be better served on someone else. This week we have a 12-year-old child , secret societies, Nazis, inspiration, a group home, another 12-year-old child, alien invasion, and Wall Street and yes, another 12-year-old. Playlist? Got that too!
Let us begin!
John has finished The Good Lord Bird by James McBride. “This is a brilliantly-crafted tour de force about the story of John Brown and his capture of the armory at Harpers Ferry. Told as a retrospective oral narrative from the point of view of a twelve year-old slave, freed by Brown, it reads like a Mark Twain novel. At times funny, sad, horrifying, and astonishingly tender, the importance of this book cannot be understated. It is truly a masterpiece. I needed to follow that with something a little different, so I opted for The River of No Return by Bee Ridgway. If you are an Anglophile who likes intelligent, witty prose about time-travelling secret societies, then this book is for you. I will say no more about it other than that it is wildly entertaining and written well enough to make you not feel like you’re slumming it.”
Barbara M is reading 50 Children: One Ordinary American Couple's Extraordinary Rescue Mission into the Heart of Nazi Germany by Steven Pressman. Bet you anything there were 12-year-old involved. “In his attempt to rid Germany of Jews, Hitler encouraged them to leave before World War II started. Unfortunately, this was not always possible as few countries would take them in and even those who were granted visas often lacked the money to leave. The author’s wife’s grandparents, Gilbert and Eleanor Kraus, prominent members of the Jewish community in Philadelphia, decided to do something about the plight of Jewish children living in Austria under the Nazi regime. Government regulations about bringing unaccompanied children into this country were strict and not easily circumvented but with the help of a few people, and with their determination, the Krauses succeeded in saving the lives of 50 children who otherwise might have perished. This is a heart-warming story of a courageous couple who found a way to do something they knew was righteous.”
Blanche! A Librarian so legendary she needs only one name. Like Cher. Or Madonna. They aren’t librarians, but you understand what I am saying. This is her yearly rare appearance and here is her take on Everybody's Got Something by Robin Roberts with Veronica Chambers. “This is a touching and inspiring story about Robin’s fight against myelodysplastic syndrome or MDS as it is known. You can’t help but cheer her on from page one and I didn’t want to put the book down when I started to read it.
The Delightful Mallory is here with a surprise this week. “I hate movies. I get bored easily, can't commit, and just generally don't find them engaging as a medium. The last movie I saw in theaters was Les Misérables and that was only because my love for musicals and Hugh Jackman trumped my hatred for film. I say all of this to let you know that if I'm recommending a movie, it's gotta be pretty darn good. Short Term 12 follows Grace, a young 20-something, who works at a foster home for disadvantaged youth. The movie opens with Grace and her peers giving advice to a new coworker. It goes a little something like, ‘Lose the tie. Don't be their friend. They'll try and push you, just say no for a while.’ This is followed by a story of Mason, another group-home worker, who was so frightened on his first day on the job he actually pooped himself. Even with the given advice, it's clear that Grace does nothing more than absolutely adore and advocate for each of the children in her care. The film is equal parts heartbreaking and uplifting, as silly as it is raw, and above all, masterfully told in both cinematography and script. I will recommend this movie to every human I meet until the end of time.”
The Fabulous Babs B is here with You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff Korelitz. “Grace Reinhart Sachs has it all. She loves her husband who is a pediatric oncologist, is a successful marriage counselor and she is about to have her first book published. But when her husband goes missing, everything falls apart. Not only has he cleaned out their joint checking account but he is a prime suspect for a murder! Little by little, Grace realizes that the warning signs were there about her marriage unraveling and she chose to ignore them instead of practicing what she preaches. Grace must dismantle one life and create another for her herself and their 12-year-old child if she wants to survive. I found it interesting how easily she and her son adapted to their new life. Not one of my favorite books but I had to finish it!”
Virginia the Tall Cool Texan is like a Tall Cool Texan Gerbil on a Wheel. Literally. I will let her explain. “I love the recent hint of Spring and Summer in the air, and it has reminded me it’s time to get back to the gym. Thank God for the library’s Hoopla service, because my time on the treadmill is so much more bearable when I am listening to a good audiobook. The 5th Wave by Hugh Dancy is certainly making my gym time fly. This may be one of my favorite dystopian novels since the Hunger Games. A brutal alien invasion has nearly eradicated the human race by sending waves of darkness, tsunamis, disease, and deception to Earth. The few humans unlucky enough to survive are racing to save the world before the next and final wave hits. Read it now before the next installment of the book, The Infinite Sea, comes out in September. I also just started Flash Boys by Michael Lewis and so far I am thoroughly enjoying this look at the dark side of Wall Street. At times it's hard to believe this is non-fiction, because Lewis does such an amazing job of building the characters and explaining the complex financial markets. So far, I can see why Flash Boys is on the top of everyone's must reads for this summer. “
DJ Patty McC is taking the SoNo Loft message to heart and is Keeping Calm but Thinking about Stuff just the same. Here is Patty’s report from The State Up North and of course The Playlist. Take it away Patty! ”This week has been an interesting one weather-wise out here in the Midwest. In the space of a few days, we’ve experienced 87-degree temperatures, flash floods and tornado watches. It makes one ponder things happening to our planet that 97 percent of scientists agree on. The things that some media sources and politicians tell us, ‘It ain’t so! Not all the evidence is in.’ Greenhouse gases are increasing, causing significant climate changes around the world. This is a fact. There is no magical thinking involved in this claim just data and hard science. This week my 12 year-old-daughter had her first middle school tornado drill. This is old hat to me as I grew up in the Midwest. As a kid, my older sister derived pleasure by having us practice very precise and terrifying tornado preparedness drills. Those drills left me a fearful, neurotic mess. My daughter was unfazed by the tornado drill, but my 7-year-old-son appeared to be completely freaked out. I asked him if he was worried that we would have a tornado here. He shrugged. I very calmly and clearly explained that it was rare and that I had never had one in my town while I lived in Michigan. Then I lied and told him that it wouldn’t happen here and gave him our family plan should one occur. He spent the remainder of the day with his blanket firmly clenched between his first two fingers and thumb. We all need those touchstones; something that comforts us when life is unsure or off-kilter. It may not be socially acceptable for adults to carry around a blanket, but we have them nonetheless. We can’t know what’s going to happen day-to-day but we do know that we can affect change NOW one tiny step at a time. So this week I encourage you to have a difficult, honest conversation with your children or a friend about something that takes you out of your comfort zone without freaking out and don’t forget your blankie. A little music might help. At least it does for me.”