It Happened in Monterey

I miss chatting with bookstore owners who are avid readers. With only one independent bookstore on the island (BookEnds in Kailua) and a perfunctory Barnes and Noble at the mall, the pickings are slim in Hawaii. On a recent trip to the Monterey Peninsula, I found four independent bookstores within a five mile radius, and with booksellers happy to share their favorites. Of course, I could not get out of a store without buying a book or two.  img_4298

At Bookworks in Pacific Grove, I found two books: an older (2012) Donna Leon mystery I had not read, with my favorite sleuth, Commissario Guido Brunetti – “Beastly Things,” and Joanna Trollope’s “Sense and Sensibility” (2013), her modernized version of the Jane Austen classic.

At Old Capitol Books in Monterey, I found myself scanning the stacks of old used books, some rare editions, checking off those I had read. Looking for favorite authors, I found an Amy Bloom book I had not read (at least I don’t remember reading it) – “Lucky Us.”

In Pilgrim’s Way, the charming bookstore connected to a garden in Carmel, I decided on “The Green Thoreau” and Scottish author Beatrice Colin’s “To Capture What We Cannot Keep.”

Chatting with the proprietor led me to another independent bookstore not far away – River House Books. There I found the first of Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector Armand Gamache books – “Still Life” – recommended by a good friend, and Amy Bloom’s new book – “White Houses.” The bookseller commisserated about “Manhattan Beach” – like me, she had not been able to finish it – but I plan to try again. And her recommendation for the best page-turner she had read recently – “The Dry” – went to the top of my to-read list.

With this stack, Laura Lippman’s “Sunburn” on my iPhone and Navin’s “Only Child” on audible, I am ready for a long flight – unless, of course, the movie selection has an Oscar nominee to distract me.

Advertisements

Favorite Authors

When I read Kristin Hannah’s list of favorite authors in this Sunday’s New York Times “By the Book,”  I could relate to some of her picks.  I too look for books by Carlos Ruiz Zafron, Donna Tartt, Haruki Murakami, Anne Tyler, Amor Towles, and Yaa Gyasi, but I would add Ann Patchett, Anita Shreve, and Carol Goodman, with children’a authors Natalie Babbitt, Lois Lowry, and Kate DiCamillo for good measure.

If you are looking for a good book try one of these:  (click the title for my review)

 

Another author I am exploring and reading now:

0062250876   Bernard Cornwell’s Fools and Mortals  (the story of the first production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream – as related by William Shakespeare’s estranged younger brother)

 

Cyber Monday Book Shopping

213xNxmerry-christmas-tag.png.pagespeed.ic.LX8pIjf0tHI went a little crazy yesterday.  With all those discounts, free shipping, remarkable book titles, gift wrapping – I could not resist.  Books are one size fits all and no worries about gluten or sugar-free horrors.  The only other item I could think of as a good gift would be coffee, but not everyone likes coffee – so I sent that to myself.

Some say the Cyber Monday discounts will continue through December, and sometimes get better, but I don’t want to think about that.  I’m done.

Tempting books to buy for Christmas gifts:

b5874f4185a54f46986b5caa2797aa33 This is a real book: ” illustrated guide to more than 75 of the world’s most celebrated, rare, and seminal books and handwritten manuscripts ever produced, with discussions of their purpose, features, and creators.”

ea369a9975c541baafee4380916ccbd2For arm chair travelers and those who have been everywhere: “an illustrated account of human movement, travel, exploration, and scientific discovery…”  from the Smithsonian.

bc9626bdb13e4fa9a0a502d90f3a391aRecipes – sounds like fun for someone else’s kids.

9781594204876   Best to read it before someone makes a musical out of it.

01923a9e-b5ae-4635-97c1-c36b74be0a9c  For all your friends reminiscing about another time: “If your funny older sister were the former deputy chief of staff to President Barack Obama, her “charming” (Kirkus), behind-the-scenes political memoir would look something like this!”

 

 

What to Read (Listen to) Next

51M04zBndRL._SL150_  After reading Sam Anderson’s teaser in the New York Times Sunday magazine – New Sentences from Dan Brown’s Origin: A Novel – I ordered the book on line from my library, but I am number 297 on the waiting list.  Although I read Brown’s The Da Vinci Code years ago, I steered away from his other books when Tom Hanks became the image of Robert Langdon – I had imagined Pierce Brosnan as the professor/adventurer.

Origin is number five in the series with Robert Langdon,  and this one promises the secrets of the universe with predictions for the future.  Anderson actually makes the case for not reading the book, but Peter Conrad for The Observer says it may the antidote to the real world –  ” a specimen of phoney fiction, expertly designed to confuse the credulous…{Dan Brown’s} deranged fantasy increasingly looks like our daily reality…”

Sounds like fun and I have too many credits on Audible – maybe I’ll just listen to the abridged version, or maybe instead –

download Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied Sing.51C0X7VufEL._SL150_

What are you listening to?

 

College Freshman Reading

unknownWhen the Sunday New York Times offered a short summary of books on the summer reading list for freshman, I wondered what my alma maters and those of my friends has assigned for stirring the synapses of the new generation of college entrants.  Aside from requiring a book as an assignment for a class (usually freshman comp), college administrators are no more successful at guaranteeing the book will be read than are book clubs (unless the host threatens a quiz with strips of questions to be publicly answered).  For someone to read the book, it must be engaging.

Topics for required freshman reading range from diversity and tolerance to best sellers.  Sometimes the nature of the institution reflects the choice, for example, “A Few Good Men” has been a popular choice over the years for The Citadel, a military college in South Carolina.  Berkeley’s 2017 summer reading list includes “What Can We Change in a Single Generation?” and the score from Hamilton, while this year a number of colleges, including one of my alma mater’s, picked “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson – the memoir of an attorney representing poor clients in the South, as he follows  a client on death row for killing a young white woman in Alabama.

9781101947135_p0_v5_s192x300   I was happy to see one of my favorites on the Stanford Three Books List as well as the pick for Connecticut College – Homegoing  by Yaa Ghasi.   I have yet to read Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy, but the University of Wisconsin has identified it for its freshmen – a strange pick for a liberal university.

Tufts University is asking its freshmen to read “The Outrage Industry: Political Opinion Media and the New Incivility” by Tufts political science professors Jeffrey M. Berry and Sarah Sobieraj.  Mount Holyoke College has chosen “Citizen: An American Lyric” by Claudia Rankine as the 2017 Common Read. The incoming Penn State class will join MacArthur Genius Grant recipient and Pulitzer Prize-winner Lynsey Addario in exploring her passion for photography and how it shaped her personal and professional life by reading “It’s What I Do: A Photographer’s Life of Love and War.”  The 2017 University of Pennsylvania freshman read is Walter Isaacson’s “The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution.”

What about the classics? Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” was the only one I could find – for Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota.

Do you remember the book(s) you were required to read as an entering freshman?  For me, it was Herman Hesse’s “Siddhartha” – and I doubt I understood its implications until I read again many years later.

For More Freshman Read Titles, check: