Greetings and welcome to the Hidden in Plain Sight Edition of You Are What You Read.
But first a PSA about eclipse glasses. Yes, we will have a limited supply and we will be streaming the event in our Community Room. More information can be found on our website.
It would seem that some things really do live forever. Cher, cockroaches, tortoises on Galapagos, your crazy Aunt Helen and of course, that most reviled of Helliday traditions, the fruitcake.
Last week Conservators with the New Zealand-based Antarctic Heritage Trust recently found a 106-year-old tinned fruit cake hidden in Antarctica's oldest building, a hut on Cape Adare. The cake was found wrapped in paper and the “remains of a tin.”
This in itself is beyond disturbing. The tin fell apart before the cake. A tin. Something that no one would ever eat, fell apart before what it was encasing what we should allegedly eat and yet never do.
I’ll give you all a moment to think about that.
The cake has been reported in excellent condition and probably edible, if you’re into that sort of thing. Made by Huntley & Palmers, (a company still baking! I have a crush on their Lemon Puff Biscuits, btw) confection probably was on the manifest list of the British explorer Robert Falcon Scott during the 1910-1913 expedition.
Lizzie Meek who is the conservation manager for artifacts at the trust says, “"Living and working in Antarctica tends to lead to a craving for high-fat, high-sugar food, and fruitcake fits the bill nicely, not to mention going very well with a cup of tea." Frankly I prefer the Lemon Puff Biscuits with tea but you get the idea.
If you’re hungry for more information, skate on over to the full story on National Geographic. Bet Yule won’t be sorry.
Steph! is touting a mystery this week! “For my final YAWYR submission (sob!), I'm sharing a great book and a good library story. I found The Tokyo Zodiac Murders by happenstance, after a patron called in looking for help figuring out the title of a book. She couldn't remember the author, but it had a blue cover and she remembered part of the plot. Well, like any good librarian, this is one of my favorite questions, and I was excited to research and see if we could find her book! As I hunted, I stumbled across a list of the best Japanese crime fiction, and clicked on it to find that I had already read all but one: Soji Shimada's The Tokyo Zodiac Murders. I admit that I temporarily dropped my research in order to learn more. As it turned out, we already had it on the shelf (thanks, Abby!) and it was checked in. Score! Sure enough, it was as good as promised. I tore through it. Shimada is revered among Japanese crime writers, and with good reason. Basically, imagine if Agatha Christie was more occult, more clever, and had a better sense of humor. I can't think of a mystery lover who wouldn't enjoy it. Many thanks to the patron whose question led me to its pages, and to all of the readers in our community! Discovering new books with the guidance of our patrons has been one of my favorite parts of working here. I'll miss it very much.”
That’s right People. Steph! is moving on and this is her last day with us. To say that we are going to miss her is a vast understatement. She has been a wonderful friend, colleague and mentor to all of us here on staff. Her infectious joy about the love of the book and the story has been apparent since day one.
This week’s You Are What You Read has a secret. It’s not about 106-year-old fruitcakes, it’s some us recommending books to someone who on many occasions has excitedly pressed a book into ours and said, “Oh my God, this is so terrific. Read/watch it so we can talk.”
So Ms. Stephanie Anderson, good luck with all of it. We wish you all the best that life has to offer. And in the meantime we want to press the following books into your hands. A shout out to Mallory who came up with this terrific idea.
Sweet Ann: “A book I would recommend for Stephanie is a YA book I read as a young person, Mrs. Mike by Benedict and Nancy Freedman. Although a little dated this book tells the story of Katherine Mary O'Fallon who was sent to Alberta, Canada from Boston as a young teen for health reasons. At the age of sixteen she will marry Mike, a Mountie. This is the story of their love and struggles living in the wilderness of Alberta.”
Barbara M: “My recommendation for Stephanie would be Ulysses by James Joyce for its exquisite use of language. Read it aloud for its full impact.”
Spunky Jill M: “One of my favorite audio books I would suggest for Stephanie is The Clancys of Queens: A Memoir by Tara Clancy. Narrated by the author, her quintessential accent alone makes one smile. This coming-of-age biography captures New York's working-class women and is just plain fun!”
Pat T: “I would like to recommend to Stephanie, Ahab's Wife, by Sena Jeter Naslund because of the strong and enchanting protagonist, Una Spenser, wife of the immortal Captain Ahab. The character of Una is brave, resilient, intellectually curious, sensitive, kind and this epic novel creates an atmospheric portrait of a remarkable woman who both typifies and transcends her times. I believe Stephanie embodies all the characteristics of this undaunted character, Una Spenser. “
Marianne:” For Stephanie, the ultimate romance reader, I’m recommending my all-time favorite romance book, Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton. It’s really a heartbreaking story of a love affair that can never be fulfilled because of the rigid rules of behavior and conformity that are imposed on the members of the small ultra-rich society of gilded age New York City. I have read this book so many times and always get totally lost in this sad story of the handsome young lawyer, Newland Archer and the beautiful femme fatale, Countess Olenska. And, just in case you’d rather watch the movie, it's best to see it on a dark, stormy night in front of a glowing fire when you're already in a melancholy mood.”
The Always Delightful Pat S: “The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford. Stephanie, these two short tales will never let you down. No matter the number of readings, Uncle Mathew, Fabrizio and Linda will forever have you laughing-and that is my wish for you. “
The Fabulous Babs B: “I recently watched the movie Julia with Jane Fonda and Vanessa Redgrave. Born to great wealth, the fiercely independent Julia devotes her life to political causes, fighting fascism in the 1930s. Fonda plays Lillian Hellman who is a dear friend to Julia. I loved the friendship, since childhood, between these two women...something you don't see very often. “
For myself: I would recommend my favorite book of all, East of Eden by John Steinbeck. The retelling of Cain and Abel set in turn of the last century California shows that there aren’t really any new stories. It’s just how we retell them to each other and what we take away from that."
DJ Jazzy Patty McC is here from That State Up North with a reveal as to how she is spending the weekend and of course The Playlist. What’s good Pats? “This week here in Detroit, we are not discussing the preservation of fruitcake but are talking all things CAR. Saturday marks the annual Dream Cruise (https://dar.to/2wYFpSD) where 10,000 classic cars slow roll down Woodward Avenue and folks line the streets by the thousands to catch a glimpse. It just so happens that Woodward Avenue is at the end of our street, so we have front row, car geek seating. If you’re in the area, stop by, I’ll save you a seat. For now, enjoy some classic car tunes. Roll down the windows, crank up the tunes and have your own slow roll down the Post Avenue. Maybe it’ll catch on and become a Thing.”