It's the Sweater Weather Edition

Greetings and welcome to the Sweater Weather Edition of You Are What You Read.

With this unrelenting dreariness and cold weather it feels like we will be in sweaters forever doesn’t it?

To be sure there are some new Hopeful Signs this week. I have noticed that the red buds are out on the trees here at the Library. The Masters is this weekend and yes, The Traveling Companion is on site typing away. I just like the Masters for the fact that a) it is a Hopeful Sign and b) it’s nice to know that somewhere on the Eastern Seaboard there is a spot warm enough to support green grass and blooming shrubbery. The golf piece? I just say Meh.

But back to the Sweater Thing.

Twenty years ago, Samuel Barsky was a failed nursing school student with some time on his hands. He was attending a flea market in Maryland when he noticed three ladies selling yarn. He asked if they would teach him to knit and they said if he bought their yarn, sure! So Sam knit his first sweater and this sweater had a covered bridge and some clouds on it. Since then Sam has become a minor interwebs celeb with his sweaters that are knit with not only nature scenes but famous landmarks. He then poses in front of them wearing his creation which he posts on Instagram or his website. So far he has created 119 sweaters with subjects that run the gamut from cherry blossoms, the Eiffel Tower, and the Pyramids. Sam now travels all over lecturing on his knitting techniques and when not knitting his sweaters (he averages one a month!), he is making and donating baby hats to the local hospital. There is a totally charming article about Sam and his creations on the New York Times website and if you want a deeper dive into Sam and his art his website is a great place to begin.

Look People, if we are going to be wearing sweaters into July we might as well have some fun with it, right?

This week we have some grim realities, reality TV, binge drinking, music, Art, and some Fannie Farmer.

Let us begin!

The Amazing Amanda has started to read through Beverly Jenkins' books. First up is Destiny's Surrender. "This book was a lot of firsts for me: first male audiobook narrator, first 1860s romance, first Mexican-Spaniard hero, and first story told from the eyes of a brothel worker. On that last part, Jenkins offers no reprieve from the grim realities women faced when they had no other means. The story stars Billie, the star employee of the Black Pearl, who finds herself pregnant. Her journey to protect her child from being sold, offering to leave the child with his father, and then facing the new life demanded by his mother. This book is fast-paced, ruthless in depicting violence, and leaves you ready to explore the next book."

Mal has been raving about The Book of Essie by Meghan MacLean Weir. “Beginning on her 17th birthday, Esther Hick's mother and reality television show producers are deciding what Essie should do with her unborn child. Is this the rating boon they've been dying for? Or perhaps too much of a fright for their evangelical audience? The Book of Essie is the Duggars/Kardashian mashup you didn't know you needed. Meghan MacLean Weir's writing will keep you turning pages late into the evening and rooting for our girl Essie. The perfect read for folks who can't stop binging on reality television, are a little too obsessed with celebrity culture, and love bossy ladies.”

The Always Fabulous Babs B has finished one of our most popular books The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian. “Cassie Bowden works for a major airline as a flight attendant and travels the world. Her problem with binge drinking becomes all too real when she wakes one morning in a Dubai hotel room with a dead man beside he with his neck slit open. Obviously Cassie is beside herself. Did she commit this horrific crime and why would she? There are so many twists and turns to this story and I'm glad I stuck with it as the middle of the book became a little too involved for me. I had a lot of questions when the story was over but I must say without giving anything away, I never saw the ending coming!”

Jeanne still only doing one thing. “Rachel Joyce has brought us another great read! Her new novel, The Music Shop, begins in 1988 when Frank owns a struggling music shop in a crumbling neighborhood in England. He shares tenancy with a close-knit group of other shopkeepers, a collection of misfits, but dear characters. Frank has become a sort of healer who desperately needs to be healed himself. He is able to match music with people, growing something they didn’t know they needed inside them. Then, the lovely Ilse Brauchmann faints in front of his music shop. What kind of music might she need? Rachel Joyce takes you through two decades (really centuries) of music from classic composers to vinyl to CDs to digital and she does it with humor and heart. Every page holds a surprise. There is even a playlist on Spotify. I loved it.”

Spunky Jill M has recently dived into Sargent’s Women: Four Lives Behind the Canvas by Donna M. Lucey. “Stepping outside my usual genre of family drama, I recently undertook a reading adventure to expand my cultural horizons with Donna M. Lucey’s biography Sargent’s Women: Four Lives Behind the Canvas. The story is embedded with richly detailed accounts of four unique women from the gilded age whose lives have been immortalized through portraits by John Singer Sargent. The author brilliantly paints (no pun intended) the personalities, loves and journeys behind each individual woman. The details of the creation of the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum alone have motivated me to put a field trip to visit it on my bucket list! Ah, cultural knowledge just may continue to grow! Stay tuned.”

Coming out this week is a book I really enjoyed. "Go Ask Fannie was what the mother of the three surviving Blaire siblings would answer when asked what was for dinner. The Fannie with the answers was Fannie Farmer of Boston Cooking School fame. When they reunite on the family farm one winter weekend they look to the notes jotted in the margins of the book to find answers to the questions that have haunted them for years. This is a terrific family saga by Elizabeth Hyde that would be an excellent book group pick. Can a wife and mother carve out a private life for herself in the midst of raising children and caring for a husband?"

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