Books Read March 2009

Dewey: The Small Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicky Myron
This story is about the author as much as it is about Dewey, the beloved library cat of Spencer Iowa. And that’s not a bad thing. Vicky Myron grew up on a family farm in Iowa and after her divorce she worked as an assistant librarian at the Spencer library. A single mother, Vicky worked towards a master’s degree during weekends and nights. A few years later she was promoted to director of the library. Things were, well, boringly librarian-ish until one freezing January morning when Myron discovers a half-dead kitten in the book drop slot. Named Dewey Readmore Books, the kitten charms the community and becomes the world’s most famous cat to live in a library. Through his nineteen years of inspiration and antics, the reader grows to know and love him, as well as many of the colorful people of Spencer.

Sing Them Home by Stephanie Kallos
Hope Jones, the physician’s wife is literally swept up and disappears in the tornado of 1978. For her three young children, life becomes a storm without end. Years later, Larken, the eldest, is now an art history professor who overeats to fill the empty space; Gaelan, the son, is a weatherman who tries to predict the future; and the youngest, Bonnie, is a small-town entrepreneur who collects roadside treasures, er, junk that the tornado picked up and put down – in hopes of finding the one clue that will tell her what really happened to her Mother. Gathered together again after their father’s death, each is forced to revisit the tragedy that has defined their lives.
For an outlandish story line this book is firmly rooted in the real world and might I add -- believable. Great quirky story.

When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris
O.K. I’ll admit right now this is my first Sedaris book. Somehow I’ve missed the other five, but how can you take one look at this cover and not want to read it? As it turns out it’s a collection of frenetic essays inspired by his life – very funny and valiant. Finding the water shut off in his house in Normandy he uses the water in a flower vase to make coffee, and well, I won’t tell you more except that David Sedaris uses his life's most bizarre moments to thoroughly entertain and wisen us up. Brilliant, funny.

The Turtle Catcher by Nicole Helget
Helget tells the story of German immigrants who have landed in a rural Minnesota town in the days of World War I. Liesel, the only girl in the family of Richter boys, has a secret about her body that was protected until her mother dies. Her closest friend is Lester, the “slow” boy in the rough Sutter family, who spends his days trapping turtles in the lake. Ruh Roh…sounds like trouble to me. Needing to break away from her predictable and boring life, Liesel puts her friend in danger.
I was in a constant state of expectation but the big pay-off never came. In the world of novels Helget is a tyros, so perhaps her next attempt will be more fulfilling.

The Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani
A fourteen year old girl in 17th-century Persia believes she will be married within the year. But then her father dies, and alone and penniless Mother and daughter are forced to sell the beautiful rug she had woven for her dowry. With the dowry money they travel to Isfahan to work as servants for her uncle Gostaham, who happens to be a rich rug designer in the court of the Shah. She becomes a brilliant weaver of carpets, but even so, is forced into a secret marriage as a lowly second wife. Ugh. The quandary -- risk everything to be a rug weaver in a world dominated by men, or live a lie? The novel is infused with the sights and sounds of 17th-century Isfahan, it’s historical fiction, and a darn good read.

The Diary of Samuel Pepys 1660-1669 an Abridgment Edited by Isabel Ely Lord
This is so cool! Samuel Pepys, a tailor's son who climbed up the ladder of the royal bureaucracy, wrote a shorthand account of his often scandalous experiences in London between 1660 and 1669. First deciphered in 1825, it has subsequently become one of the main sources for the social life of the Restoration and the years encompassing some of the most dramatic events of London’s history. Pepys witnessed the London Fire, the Great Plague, the Restoration of Charles II, and the Dutch Wars. He was a patron of the arts, especially fond of the theater, loved good clothes, music and food almost as much as his dalliance with women. What a lovable cad!
Dear reader…don’t make the mistake I made by reading an early version. I was on the brink of pulling my hair out trying to understand old English. Little did I know that in 1970 Robert Latham and William Matthews went back to the 300-year-old original manuscript and deciphered each passage and phrase and came away with a reliable, full text, with commentary and notation. Read. That. One.

1 comment:

jd said...

The book about Samuel Pepys sounds
really interesting - will pick it
up next library trip.