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Some Writer! and Other Non-Fiction

I've read more non-fiction during the first few months of this year than I usually do. I'm not sure how that happened. Usually I "get acquainted" with some non-fiction titles so I can recommend them, do a little speed reading of a chapter or two, and leave it at that. But I dove deeper earlier this year and feel smarter for it (kidding). Here, in the order of preference (most liked to least), are the books I read cover to cover:

Some Writer! The Story of E.B. White by Melissa Sweet
I loved this book. It's a children's biography of noted writer and style guide producer E.B. White, and it's so well done. Interspersed with the narration are examples from White's writings, personal papers, anecdotes and much more. The layout is gorgeous. Every bit of text is interesting. And White's life is worth reading about.

Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries by Kory Stamper
After reading Stamper's book, I now know that I am not careful enough to beco…
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Suicide Is Painful

Suicide Is Painless is the title of the theme song to both the movie and television series M*A*S*H (and one of the first songs I learned to play on the piano). I've just read three books that involve suicides in one way or another (some spoilers ahead) and they show how suicide painfully affects the ones left behind. Imagine Me Gone by Adam Hasslett delves into bi-polar disorder before it was called that. Married couple Margaret and John are seemingly able to cope for a long time with John's bi-polar disorder, but fail to realize how it tough it is on their children and how the oldest, Michael, seems to have inherited the disease. John's suicide changes each family member in a different way. I was bothered more than a bit with how Margaret was portrayed. She seemed so together and strong and powerful at the beginning of the novel and then so lost later. It just seemed to me that her personality changed too much. When  a second suicide happens late in the nove…

"Hillbilly Elegy" by J.D. Vance

I rarely get angry at a book or an author, but I found myself getting increasingly angry at J.D. Vance and his book Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis. Angry enough to blog (so you know it must be bad.) This book is filled with contradictions and in several places is downright crazy because of people making really poor decisions. I am disappointed that so many people I know love it and so many book reviews rated it as one of the best books of 2016. I thought it would be a story that would teach me something about Republican/conservative voters, so I wanted to read it. It did not do that.
A graduate of Ohio State and Yale Law School, and a veteran (marine), J.D. Vance is from Kentucky and Ohio (his family is originally from Kentucky but they moved to Ohio and the author spends much time traveling back and forth), so he grew up in a family of hillbillies. Most of them were very poor and didn't work and often moved to larger cities in Ohio to …

What I Haven't Read in 2017

I made an odd sort of promise to myself this year: Read fewer books. The past few years, I been reading at a pace of about 100 books per year – a mix of children’s (but not counting picture books), young adult, and adult – and I felt as if I was reading too quickly and perhaps forgetting what I was reading. (Thank goodness for Goodreads.)
However, I consider it a very important part of my job as a librarian to keep up with what’s published, even if it’s a daunting task. Hundreds of thousands books are published each year in this country, so obviously it’s beyond even a superhero librarian (and I’m not one of those) to keep all those titles straight. But I try to at least know something about some books. We have two public-facing desks in my library – one is called the information desk; the other, reference. If you are working at the information desk, you will be asked for book recommendations. You will be asked, have you read this book? You will be asked to help select a book for a r…

Reading in December 2017

I feel a bit confused. Is it possible I only read eight books in December and nothing between December 11 and December 25? I'm sort of proud of myself for letting my brain rest and letting myself enjoy the holidays. If that's what happened. Well, my kids were both home from school, so they had something to do with it too. I can't nag them with questions about college and read at the same time.

I do have a list (again) of books I didn't read. I borrowed these books from the library, but, alas, didn't like them enough to go on or didn't feel I had the time (I don't like returning books late).

The Last One by Alexandra Oliva
I started this one, but I didn't got far. The premise was interesting--a woman is participating in a reality wilderness-survival show when the rest of the world is thrown into some sort of catastrophe, one that she and the other contestants don't know about--but the story didn't hold me. Someone should read it and tell me what …

Reading in November

November was a tough month for me. And I think my reading showed it. I returned several books to the library that I just knew I wouldn't be able to read right now (right then).

So, first, the books I did not read: Barkskins by Annie Proulx. Have you seen this book? 717 pages. One of the searchable metadata descriptions for it is "epic fiction." I have to try to remember it and save it for a month I can dedicate to an epic.
The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill. It's nearly award time for Children's and YA literature and this book was touted early on as a contender, plus I like Kelly Barnhill. But a friend read it and didn't think too much of it, so I've moved it to a back burner (or whatever the equivalent is in reading -- no burning books!) and will read it later rather than sooner.
Girl Unbroken: A Sister's Harrowing Tale of Survival from the Streets of Long Island to the Farms of Idaho by Regina Calcaterra and Rosie Maloney. The authors are si…

September '16 Books, Part 4 of 4

Almost done with September ... just in time for the end of October.

First, a note on a book that I did not finish: All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda. I've said it many times, but I will repeat myself just for the heck of it. I like police procedurals. That's my mystery genre of choice. I read cozies ever now and then. I also read literary mysteries. I don't enjoy thrillers or mysteries solved by people who aren't detectives (there are a few exceptions). However, I read a lot of book reviews and sometimes getting a little caught up in the hype. All the Missing Girls sounded intriguing. I especially loved the part that most of the book is told backward (so, say chapter 2 is about September 15, chapter 3 is about September 14). But I couldn't get past the idea that this book was about rural white woman making really bad choices and doing really stupid things. It's a genre all to its own, I find. I'm not even curious about what happened. On to better books…