I’ve been off to New Orleans, for the American Library Association meeting. I think we were about 17,000 strong this year. Hot, hot New Orleans, but great hospitality, wonderful food and of course meetings, meetings, meetings. You would think librarians would go to a conference resplendent with booktalks, author teas, and piles of books. Some of that happens but mostly I spend my time getting updates from library Software vendors on the latest version releases. Sigh.
Major publishers do give out ARC (advanced reader copy) galleys. And we hop on them like ants on honey. I have a whole suitcase full and had to take my clothes back in a carryon. Unlike those conferences where employees are wined and dined by big vendors, with megastars singing their latest album we’re lucky to get a bagel, or tiny egg rollup with coffee and occasionally fruit. And when meetings start as early as 7:00 I dare say we deserve every morsel.
Travel was the usual pain, nothing notably nightmarish. I read Tamar Myers’ Nightmare in Shining Armor on the way down. One of her Den of Antiquity mysteries, starring Abby Timberlake. It’s Southern cozy fiction and good airfare.
A Halloween pary gone awry, a dead body in a suit of armor, knowledgeable antique dealers, and Southern dialogue and charm provide a fun read. Picked this one up at the Metropolitan Library System book sale for $0.50.
Looks like Tamar has some new ones out, set in Africa, starting with The Witch Doctor’s Wife (2009) and a 2011, Headhunter’s Daughter. Fans of McCall Smith should enjoy these. She also has a slew of Pennsylvania-Dutch with Recipes mysteries. I know I’ve tasted a few of those.
Picked up an ARC of G. M. Malliet’s Wicked Autumn for the ride home. Have 100 pages left, but finding it quite good. Features Max Tudor, local Anglican priest and former MI5 agent solving the mysterious demise of the town’s tyrannical leader of the local Women’s Institute. (Think U.S. Junior League wives)
So I’m home and ready to read, and with the temperature rising daily, it sounds like a good plan.
Ok so Dad’s Day was yesterday, but I’ve found a perfect book to share with your Dad. It’s Michael Wallis’ The Wild West 365. It’s a 6 1/2 by 9 1/2 inch book of everything Wild West. On one side of the Day Page is a vignette of fascinating western history and directly across is a photograph, or artist rendering of the event or person.
For example, on September 6th, is the tale of Wyatt Earp’s Vendetta Ride to get even for the murder of his brother, Morgan (September 5th tells that story). Across from the story is a photograph of Johnny Ringo, legendary badman who according to Josie Earp, ended his criminal career at the hands of Wyatt and Doc Holliday.
October 14th, the story of Boomer Sooner, and Captain David L. Payne, with a sketch of wagons readying for the run. April 29, the story of Ned Buntline, the pen name of Edward Zane Carroll Judson, who introduced “Buffalo Bill” to the world.
The images are drawn from Robert G. McCubbins’ extensive collection of Western memorabilia which includes photographs, ephemera, rare books, artifacts and even Billy the Kid’s knife!
At the very top of the Day page is an actual event occurring on that Day. Significant gore to keep Dad’s attention. March 22, 1881 Murderer “Big Nose” George Parrott is lynched by a mob in Rawlins, Wyoming Territory. The skin from his chest is mad into a medicine bag and a pair of shoes.
What a fun way to read history, one snippet at a time. After a full year you’ll have plenty of knowledge of the Wild West one day at a time, written with historical accuracy by Oklahoma author, Michael Wallis.
Literary Kitty’s Site of the Week on the Guys Read web page, tripped a switch in Young Bill Young’s head. There’s another expert on boys and reading that we need to introduce you to: Michael Sullivan. Literary Kitty approves, so we’re good to go with this post.
Sullivan is a big hit at conferences and workshop for librarians across the country. He cuts to the heart of what it means to be a boy. He knows how their minds work. He knows what’s important to them. Take a look at this quote from an article on one of his presentations in Houston. Here’s what I mean by getting to the heart of it:
Girls tend to be internal thinkers, feeling connected to the world when they read. For girls, this connection and communication is the key to solving problems. Boys tend to be external thinkers, craving to connect to the world and follow what is called the ‘Home Depot Approach.’ In their reading, they look for rules and tools to understand why problems exist and then explore ways to solve the problem.”
Parents know the differences between their boys and girls, so why fight the differences? Michael shows you how to work with the differences. Sullivan says let boys choose what they read. Support whatever they choose to read, and connect the activities they enjoy—be it sports, adventure or exploration—with books that help them learn more about those activities.
Sullivan’s site is a wealth of information. It includes his 2011 list of Best Books for Teen Boys, his Boys and Books Blog, recommended titles for boys of different ages, a link to his Facebook page on chess (he’s a chess teacher, too!), and a link to the Facebook page on the line of books he’s written for boys, Escapade Johnson.
If there’s a boy in your life, you need to introduce yourself to Mr. Sullivan.
Here’s to boys and books!
It was a hot Memorial Day weekend, so I was inside flipping channels and happened on BookTV. A friend of mine said he thought BookTV was an oxymoron. I used to watch it but got really tired of an abundance of war books and gloom & doom economy tales.
Literary Kittie and I settled down, with beverage in hand, to watch a fascinating discussion by Gwen Ifill and Michele Norris on the topic, “Does Race Still Matter?” And it looks like BookTv is going to replay it, (fortunately for you)
June 13th, 4:00 (ET)
Approx. 55 min.
2011 Annapolis Book Festival: Does Race Still Matter
Gwen Ifill has written The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama, and her friend Michele Norris, wrote The Grace of Silence: A Memoir. As a result of their many book tours and subsequent conversations with each other, they became aware Americans have a hard time talking about race. I know as a white person I’m always afraid of saying the wrong thing or appearing racist if I blunder into some unknown territory.
I think it was Michele Norris who said the important idea we need to take away from talking about race is: Race is not the same as Racism. We should be able to share our diversity and learn to have open conversations with each other even if it starts out uncomfortable. (Of course if you listen to the playback you’ll see she says this much better than I am).
Then we watched Janny Scott, “A Singular Woman: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mother.” http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/Janny Stanley Ann Dunham sounds like a fascinating woman, who we know very little about except for some campaign soundbites. Ms Scott has brought great enthusiasm to the telling her story.
There was a BookExpo panel from the folks at Library Journal and some other librarians. I’m so glad the video is available because I missed a little bit at the first of it and I didn’t have a chance to write down titles. The “Books for Dudes” guy is hysterical. See also Earlyword.com
And for even more diversity of topic, Sam Brower was discussing his soon to be released (October 2011) book Prophet’s Prey. It’s about his investigation into the Fundamentalist Church of the Later Day Saints and Warren Jeffs.
I think that was what made my visit back to BookTV so engaging this time around. Lot’s of different books and topics. Literary Kittie and I will visit more often. (We’ve also discovered the BookTV schedule, duh)
It is a sad day in Oklahoma and throughout the nation. Civil rights pioneer Clara Luper has died at the age of 88 following a long illness. Oklahoma State University’s Edmon Low Library is sharing a special video from their Oklahoma Oral History Research Program archives to commemorate this life well lived. It features OSU alum Nancy Randolph Davis discussing her work with Ms. Luper.
Ms. Luper’s contribution to desegregation and civil rights in our state is immense. She helped establish the Youth Council of the Oklahoma City chapter of the NAACP, and organized the 1958 sit-ins to desegregate Oklahoma City businesses.
Her 1979 autobiography, Behold The Walls, has become a sought-after work by historians and students of history, with limited copies often commanding $100+ prices on Amazon and E-bay. (Don’t forget, you can request this book through Interlibrary Loan at your local library.)
Visit NewsOK’s special coverage of this pioneer. You’ll see other photos and videos along with her obituary. Plus you can access past articles about Ms. Luper.
And now, Ms. Davis talks about Clara Luper…
While Kitty is getting through the heat by turning up the AC and losing herself in a cozy mystery, my reading habits have been all over the place since Memorial Day weekend. I’ve been to the Nursery Crimes police division in Reading, England (alternative universe England, that is), on an Aussie football field in Melbourne, and in a sick generational ship in outer space. (I told you I read weird stuff!) Here are some quick reviews of my latest reads…
The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde.
The Gist: Nursery Rhyme characters are real! (And so are Greek gods, and aliens.) Humpty Dumpty has a great fall and the Nursery Crimes Division, headed by DCI Jack Spratt and assisted by DI Mary Mary, is called in. Turns out Mr. Dumpty didn’t just fall. He was shot! It was murder!
Status: Read cover to cover.
Summer Escapism: A
Strength of Writing: B
Stimulation of the Little Grey Cells: B (It helps to have access to Mother Goose Rhymes as a reference. Fun!)
Social Relevance: Uh… er… OK! C+
General Reaction: You already know I love Jasper Fforde if you read my reviews of The Eyre Affair and Shades of Grey. While reading this first Nursery Crimes mystery, I often thought that Fforde was trying to hit the reader with too much weirdness. But weirdness is what Fforde is all about. The Greek gods and aliens don’t add anything to the main plot, but they do make for some great laugh-out-loud moments. Despite the gimmick-taken-to-extreme nature of the book, the mystery itself is solid, and just when you think it’s all solved, there’s the weirdest last reveal you could imagine. Priceless Fforde.
Tigers and Devils by Sean Kennedy
The Gist: Gay romance centering on the outing of a Australian Football player. Oh, and… boy meets boy, boy loses boy, boy gets boy back; the basic formula, except this time with rainbows.
Status: Read cover to cover.
Summer Escapism: B
Strength of Writing: C (You know there may be a problem when the writer has the football-crazy protagonist ask why an injured player has to travel with the team. For team support, doofus! Even I knew that.)
Stimulation of the Little Grey Cells: C (Well, it did inspire me to learn a bit about Aussie Football.)
Social Relevance: A (Lots of talk right now about gay athletes in pro sports, so, yeah, it was pretty relevant.)
General Reaction: I’ve read plenty of gay novels, but I had never read a gay romance. It’s interesting to see this variation of the classic romance formula. See if you recognize it: Protagonist is sarcastic and a loner, thinking he doesn’t need love, but he really does. Meets Mr. Wonderful. Mr. Wonderful pushes all the right buttons but seems too good to be true. Personalities clash during a crisis. Mr. Wonderful has faults! Love is slipping away. The idea of love lost puts the crisis in perspective. Love is reaffirmed. Fireworks. Happy ending.
Hull Zero Three by Greg Bear
The Gist: Mystery and terror on a generational space ship. Our narrator is awakened from a deep sleep to find himself naked and freezing inside a giant spaceship. He is having trouble recovering his memories, and some of the monstrous creatures around him want him dead.
Status: Three-quarters of the way through!
Summer Escapism: B
Strength of Writing: B (This book is turning out to be a fast read, but it takes a bit too long to really get started, despite the intriguing set-up.)
Stimulation of the Little Grey Cells: A
Social Relevance: B (Poses the intellectual, ethical and moral questions you expect from good Sci-Fi.)
General Reaction: I’ve never reviewed a Bear novel on Okie Reads, but his Blood Music is a favorite Sci-Fi classic of mine. Although I’m still reading Hull Zero Three, I can tell you that the revelations to the mystery thus far are as big, strong and provocative as you would expect from this master of the genre. Three-quarters of the way through, I’m very pleased with this book. I’ll certainly let you know if it falls apart for me in the end.
OK, that’s what I’ve been reading. What have you been reading during this late spring/early summer heat wave?
Ok, I’ve got the summer blahs, how can it be 97 degrees already. Don’t want to blog, have started about 20 books and not finished any. So I decided to go back to the satisfaction of a cozy read.
Breaking out of my doldrums I picked up a Simon Brett. One really good thing about Mr Brett, he publishes a lot. I like series authors, I like character driven mysteries, I like cozy reads and he’s good at what he does. Fethering Mysteries, number 11, The Shooting in the Shop was my book du jour this weekend.
The timeline is through the Christmas holidays, when our two sleuths Carole, a grumpy divorcee and her friend Jude, who is all things bohemian and New Age, look to solve a murder. Lots of characters, some plucked right from our tabloid headlines. There’s the socializing/womanizing ex-rock star, gone music business mogul, his “aristocratic” mom, who isn’t quite as aristocratic as she claims, Jude’s friend Lola Le Bonnier, stepmother to the soon to be deceased Polly Le Bonnier and owner of the Gallimaufry, pretensious gift store and site of the murder. We’ve got our aging “beach bum” who is much more than he appears and the dogwalking Mafia.
Splendid combinations for a murderous holiday. This is the first Fethering mystery for me, but I’ve always enjoyed Brett’s other series, with actor and sleuth, Charles Paris. Her’e a list of all the Brett books, because you can’t read just one.
Here’s a second opinion on the book by Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise.
And then I just found out he’s written a new series, Blotto and Twinks and we (the library) have this title. It looks like fun and that’s what summer reading is definitely all about.