May 18, 2024

Twenty Books of Summer. Or, Looking Forward To Fulfilling This Year’s Reading Events from the Blogging World.


One of the best things about blogging sporadically, as I have been doing, is coming back to the beloved events which continue on each year. I have spent the most joyous evening comprising my list for 20 Books of Summer, which happily include books for other challenges, as well as books promised to review for publishers, and books I’ve simply been longing to open.

For Paris in July 2024, I’ve chosen to read:

The Postcard by Anne Berest

The Paris Novel by Ruth Reichl


Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik, which is a reread for me.

For A Year With John Banville, I’ve chosen to read:

The Sea by John Banville

For Reading Orwell 2024, I’ve chosen to read:

1984 by George Orwell 

And for Moomin Week I’ve chosen to read:

Moominsummer Madness by Tove Jansson

And now we come to books I’ve promised to review for the publishers who sent them to me, including:

youthjuice by e.k. sathue

Tasmania by Paolo Giordano

Catalina by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio

Women And Children First by Alina Grabowski

And for these books which have caught my eye and I’ve purchased on my own:

Her Side of The Story by Alba De Cespedes (because I loved Forbidden Notebook)

Long Island by Colm Toibin

The Hunter by Tana French 

The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster, as I have never read it and was saddened to read of his death on May 7, 2024 at age 77.

If you’ve been counting, this is only 19 books. The 20th will be the book of Revelation, last book of the Bible, in preparation for Bible Study Fellowship International this Fall. We will be studying this book during the 2024-2025 year, for which I am so honored to lead a group of women. 

And so, as my grandfather would say after finishing a hearty meal, “That oughtta hold you!” Indeed, I think it shall. Except, how will I wait until June to begin?

May 1, 2024

Robert B. Parker and Spenser. Oh, that they still lived.

“Nothing makes a thriller look better than the International Booker Prize longlist this year.”

I found this thought, while flipping through my Hobonichi, written this March. While it may surprise you that I found the list of books chosen to contend for the International Booker Prize 2024 less than inspiring, it should not come as a surprise to learn of my passion for thrillers. Mysteries that are well written, that is. Mysteries like those written by Tana French, or Ken Follett, or most especially, Robert B. Parker.

I’d refer you to posts I’ve written about Robert B. Parker’s Spenser series, but they’re all deleted. So, I’ll have to tell you here, briefly, that Spenser is everything I love in a man.

He is brave and strong and courageous. He has integrity and compassion and excellence. He is witty and tender and tough all at the same time. Parker gives us a complete picture of this character, so real he seems born of flesh to me.

But, I also love that Parker speaks of things long gone, which I remember clearly. Like eating at a Hamburger Hamlet, or a kid turning on the television, and waiting for it to warm up before watching My Three Sons. I like being reminded of the styles in decades past, such as the horrible polyester suits with white leather belts, or mini skirts and jumpsuits. It’s such a wonderful, nostalgic gift to me.

I have read all of the Spenser books before, but this time, I am rereading them in order. Starting from the very first, The Godwulf Manuscript, (which, frankly, isn’t nearly as developed as the subsequent books in the series) and working my way to the very last Silent Night, which is the fortieth book.

Along the way we meet Hawk and Susan Silverman, Rachel Wallace and Paul Giacomin. Their relationships deepen and develop as we go along, and I am in my element, spending time as if with friends. As soon as I put down my iPad, I will pick up book number eight, A Savage Place. But, it will be hard to surpass what may be my favorite of all, which I have just finished: Early Autumn, in which Spenser assumes responsibility for a fifteen year old kid, rejected by his parents, to help him grow into a man of his own.

April 23, 2024

Ten Unread Books on My Shelves That I Want To…Plan To…WILL…Read.

If you are new here, you will discover that the books I am most passionate about are the ones which are in translation. The books that have been translated from their original language into English offer me perspectives and insights that I do not often find in books which are typical best sellers in the States. Books in translation give me a virtual trip, a true escape, and for all of these reasons, I reach for them over and over. Here are some of the ones I’ve most recently purchased, but laid aside as I read the longlist for the International Booker Prize 2024 longlist:

(Clicking on the image will take you to the publisher’s link for each title.)

Might I add that I am particularly eager for Her Side of The Story by Alba De Cespedes, above, as Forbidden Notebook by her “ticked all my boxes”. 

Have you read any of these? Have you even heard of any of these? You can be sure I’ll write about them at some point on my blog, if any seem to particularly catch your interest.

Find Top Ten Tuesday links for this topic here.

April 21, 2024

Sunday Salon for April 21, 2024

It is gorgeous here, in Illinois. So often, Spring is gone in an instant, overcome by rain or freezing temperatures. But, this year I am relishing the daffodils, the tulips, the Redbuds, and the Bradford Pear trees. Everything is a harbinger of hope, and fresh beginnings; no wonder April 1 was once the start of the New Year.

I have a new beginning myself, returning once again to Blogger. Wordpress said I was out of space, and so I came back to where it all began in 2006. This time, there are no old posts, only new ones yet to be written.

We had dinner with my son last night, in his new apartment. He cooked us Wild Caught Salmon, and grass-fed beef, with a side of stir fried vegetables. This son of mine, now age 33, brings to fruition this verse: “Train up a child in the way he shall go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”  ~Proverbs 22:6 I struggled to believe this when he was in High School.

I have so enjoyed the 1937 Club this week. There are many books I did not get to, such as Ali and Nino by Kurban Said, or The Nutmeg Tree by Margery Sharp. I wanted to reread The Hobbit, and On The Banks of Plum Creek. But finishing the longlist for the International Booker prize longlist has taken precedence, and I was lucky to squeeze in How Then Do You Live? by Genzaburo Yoshino.

I’m off to read the reviews written for books published in 1937, left on Kaggsy’s site, as well as other posts for the Sunday Salon. May your new week be as beautiful as it is here.

April 20, 2024

How Do You Live? by Genzaburo Yoshino, translated from the Japanese by Bruno Navasky (#1937 Club)


I am coming in hot, with only a day to spare, for the 1937 Club this week. Having finished all that I can of the International Booker Prize 2024 longlist, it was a lovely thing to open How Do You Live? Published in 1937, it is a Japanese classic written for young readers. 

“Academy-Award winning animator Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, Howl’s Moving Castle) has called it his favorite childhood book and announced plans to make it the basis of his expected final film.” -inside cover flap

Like all the best books written for children, this book is perhaps more appreciated by adults. I remember opening A Wrinkle in Time when I was 12, and again when I was 23, and how much more meaningful it was to me the second time around. This is not to say, of course, that these books don’t strike us profoundly in our formative years.

Neil Gaiman writes, in his forward, that if had been given it as a small boy, he “would have found it puzzling or even dull: a book-length essay about how we live our lives, interrupted by the story of a pre-war schoolboy in Japan dealing with friendship and bullying, or a story about growing up, bravery, cowardice, social class and finding out who you are…In How Do You Live?, Copper, our hero, and his uncle are our guides in science, in ethics, in thinking. And in the way they take us, through a school story set in Japan in 1937, to the heart of the questions we need to ask ourselves about the way we live our lives.”

Those are very interesting topics to me:  being bullied, being brave, being a friend. They were as a child, they are now, for who isn’t looking for the best ways to live their lives?

Copper, nicknamed after Copernicus by his uncle, searches to find his way with his uncle’s help. Copper’s father has died, and he lives alone with his mother, but his uncle is a marvelous role model and friend. Through discussions and letters, he carefully considers how it is that we live. How, indeed, Copper can make wise choices.

Consider these quotes:

Even among adults, the human tendency is to think about things and form judgments with ourselves at the center remains deep-rooted.

No, when you are an adult, you will understand this. In the world at large, people who are able to free themselves from this self-centered way of thinking are truly uncommon…Most people slip into a self-interested way of thinking, become unable to understand the facts of the matter, and end up seeing only that which betters their own circumstances. (p. 21)

and this:

So when I see that you hate that which is low-minded, crude and prejudiced, and that you show respect for an honest, brave spirit - how shall I put it? That comes as a tremendous relief. (p. 45)

Well, I think you see my point. In between stories of Copper’s life, at school and with his friends, we read these beautiful lessons which cause me to think about my own life. How, then, am I living it? 


 Thanks to Kaggsy and Simon, who offer this week’s 1937 Club. 


April 18, 2024

April…the start of something fresh.

When Hobonichi released their April start planners, I was confused. Why start the year in April? And then I learned that Japan’s school year, as well as their fiscal year, begins in April to accommodate the needs of their agricultural sector.

For me, the start of the new year has always been September, since that is when the new school year begins in the States. But, I am perfectly willing to adopt a fresh beginning any time it is needed, and one of those times is now. 

I have been absolutely lousy at leaving comments on blogs. And, I have been sporadic, at best, in writing new posts. Since most of the space allotted to me for free at WordPress is now used up, I think the best thing to do is reach for a new beginning once again. Over here, where I began in 2006. 

You won’t find any of the old posts here. I’ve deleted them all, in an effort to truly begin anew. No more stories of my teaching days, or waiting for my son to come home at 3:00 a.m. We’re past that now, and I have new stories to tell. Like the new blooms in front of an old evergreen, it is time to blossom here. Again.

Welcome back.

Twenty Books of Summer. Or, Looking Forward To Fulfilling This Year’s Reading Events from the Blogging World.

  One of the best things about blogging sporadically, as I have been doing, is coming back to the beloved events which continue on each year...