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Books, Books, Books

May 2024

If you want to be in on the ground floor, my latest piece on Travel Albums is not online, but is available in a handsome volume of stories, poetry and art from El Portal for ten dollars. Send a check to El Portal, Languages and Literature, 1500 S Ave K, Station 19, Portales, NM 88130. Yeah, a check!

RIP Paul Auster - In his honor we watched a very Brooklynesque movie he wrote called Smoke (1995) starring Harvey Keitel and William Hurt and we enjoyed it.

A grand excursion we took in the Bolt EV was to visit twenty-eight bookstores in honor of Seattle Independent Bookstore Day (this year expanded to ten days). We did it in three, starting in the south end and moving north on the inaugural day (stopping of course at Han's German Deli in Burien for sausages), the ferry ride shops (Bremerton, Winslow, Poulsbo and Kingston) the next day, and the eastside and far north on the third day. A speakeasy called Remedy in Bremerton won kudos for best burger. bookstore prize is a 25 percent discount card. Who needs that less than we do?

And that's mainly fiction (and some art squished at the bottom)!

For those who just can't decide, The Strand bookstore in New York City sells books by color: for eighty to one hundred thirty-five dollars per foot! Color coordination might make my shelves look tidier.

Listening to neglected books podcasts from Backlisted and Mookse and the Gripes, I'm reminded of long ago delights: Barbara Trapido: The Traveling Hornplayer; and Brother of the More Famous Jack; Carol Shields: The Stone Diaries; Larry's Party; Sarah Orne Jewett: The Marsh Island; Country of the Pointed Firs; Barbara Comyns: The Vet's Daughter and Our Spoons Came from Woolworth's; Ford Madox Ford, The Good Soldier.

But the Library just won't let me alone!

Splinters is a well-written memoir of motherhood and divorce from Leslie Jamison; James is a highly recommended narrative from the standpoint of "Jim" in Huckleberry Finn called James by Percival Everett; Martryr! by Kaveh Adkbar presents the viewpoint of a would-be assassin with a surprise ending. I also read Salman Rushdie's memoir Knife about his assault. And now I'm almost finished with the troubling love story of a May-December relationship (as my mom would have labeled it) set in politically tense times in post-WWII East Germany, Kairos by Jenny Erpenbeck, which won the International Booker Prize.

We've also been on a Michael Powell old movie jag owing to his memoir and have seen a romantic collection of his films: 1) Colonel Blimp 2) I Know Where I'm Going (Scotland with Wendy Hiller & Roger Livesey); 3) A Matter of Life and Death with David Niven

Biblioracle from John Warner, a book reviewer for the Chicago Tribune and others, recently looked at Oprah's legacy in book clubs and commented on Reese's Book Club and Read with Jenna book clubs:

"Reese's Book Club kicked off in 2017, and similar to Oprah's, primarily features fiction with the occasional memoir or self-help book (e.g., Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone by Brene Brown). Her Sept. 2018 pick, Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, went on to sell more books than any other in the year 2019, and has sold more than 20 million copies, making it one of the most popular books of all time.

Multiple book club choices have been adapted for the screen through Witherspoon's Hello Sunshine production company, including Celeste Ng's Little Fires Everywhere and Taylor Jenkins Reid's Daisy Jones and the Six, in addition to Where the Crawdads Sing.

....Witherspoon is more likely to hit on something that connects with the popular zeitgeist and moves mega copies." Here is her list: [Of her fifty-eight choices, I've read Such a Fun Age, This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage, and The Library Book. Guess my bookseller skillset is gone.]

Jenna Bush Hager is modeling what it's like to be a reader who wants to share their favorites and provide a varied reading experience. [for what it's worth, I've read only five of her sixty-six selections: The House on Mango Street and The Secret History, The Great Circle, Writers and Lovers and Dutch House]"

Or I could buckle down and follow these big readers' ideas for finishing more books:

Whatever that phenomenon is called, synchronicity, law of attraction or the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, otherwise known as the frequency illusion, I've encountered it lately with the recipe for Chicken Marbella. Published in the original Silver Palate Cookbook by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins in 1982, the recipe was updated by Ina Garden here: and is as good as ever if, like me, you're a fan of chicken, prunes & olives. Try it. Great for entertaining and making ahead of time.

One last reading recommendation! The Upstairs Delicatessen by Dwight Garner is a lark of quotations and anecdotes on reading and eating. As the key critic for the NYT, how does he manage all that eating? He virtually always eats when he reads a book, especially a good one. Well, he must read several books a week, perhaps one a day. Or more. How does he manage all that snacking? The book is also PACKED with quotations and anecdotes. And laughs.

What have you been reading? Or have you been writing? Cooking? Let me know!

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1 Comment

Jun 01

You are a wonder!!!!!! I particularly like the idea of the Deli book... I am trying hard (but not hard enought apparently) to take time from the "busyness" side of my "to do" list and fill the void with just the simple and exquisite pleasure of losing myself in the written word. Maybe I could print out a photo of you and post it prominently as my "Just Read Guru."

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