Children’s books, adult books, lots of books


I finally finished reading The Mysterious Benedict Society to the ladies last week. I believe I checked it out in October. One of the many benefits of working in the library is no overdue fees! We liked it but we stalled out between Thanksgiving and Easter. Now we have started Caddie Woodlawn so we can discuss it with my mother and my grandmother. I have re-implemented my rule, “I read aloud while you pick up your room.” I had forgotten about that. I had also forgotten the carpet in their room is purple shag (they play a lot of dress-up).

I am reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone to the gentlemen. They are 6 and 5. I am not sure how much little Paul is getting out of it, but I think they should have a working familiarity with the books should we ever make it to Harry Potter World. This is about the seventh time I have read this book and the second time aloud. It will also be the last time for a long, long time. (okay, maybe it is only the fifth time, I don’t know) For the record, they picked up their room too.

Mae was having a hard time getting to sleep last winter and she is reading the Percy Jackson books. Most kid books end each chapter with a cliff hanger (just like George R.R. Martin does) so you can’t put the book down (which can become a problem when you are reading an 800 page book). I handed her a copy of My Antonia by Willa Cather thinking the description-heavy plot would lull her to sleep. She informed me the next morning she was on Chapter 3. Oops. I so handed her Roots by Alex Haley. She just kind of looked at me. But she really wants to read My Antonia. It is the One Book Nebraska book this year so I would like to re-read it with her. Unfortunately she is off to spend the summer with her father soon. We may have some marathon reading sessions this month, but maybe that will be good for the room situation.

I approached my boss about promoting an open discussion about My Antonia, maybe with lemonade on the lawn or something at the end of summer. She said, “Great! You are in charge!” So now I have to read it. She is very much all about new and edgy books, so she isn’t going to like next year’s book either since it will be by a Nebraska author as well and I can’t think of an edgy new Nebraska author, although it should be a newer book since they go old one year the new the next year.

Our book discussion group is doing well. We have about 10 women who come each month, and we are on our third book (Little Bee). Next month is Wicked by Maguire. If you are interested find us on goodreads at LSPL Book Junkies. We seriously need some online discussion.

I think I am going to go curl up with Baxter Black for a bit before I hit the sack. Don’t tell Ed.

** EDIT ** I goofed! The One Book Nebraska was O Pioneers this year! It might be easier to read.

A few random things

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My boss has been weeding the non-fiction section of the library. It needed it desperately. So my co-worker and I have been removing books from the library system. The boss lady started with the 000s, which is the unknown information section, like computers and the abominable snowman. That kind of stuff, then she hit the 100s which is philosophy and the “woo woo” stuff, like horoscopes and Sylvia Browne books. People like to steal her books, and I can see why. I was going to link you to her site but she charges $80 for an 18-month subscription, and I thought if you were that interested in her you would already have your own subscription, and if you weren’t then Wikipedia would do.

All along I have snagged a book here and there because, well, I have a thing about books. I picked up one called “My Angry Son.” The title pretty much says it all, except it has a happy ending. I found a couple on ethics, one on some lady who had ESP in 1801 and after just thumbing through it I am having second thoughts. I also found one called “The Way We Never Were” which purportedly debunks all kinds of nostalgia.

This month she hit the 200s. Religion. I snagged a couple of Greek and Roman Gods books for my daughter who is enamored of Percy Jackson. Friday I went home with a book about members of a religion (more like splinter groups) who had revelations to kill people, like their sister-in-law and her baby, or revelations to kidnap girls to make them wives and such. It has been pretty interesting, although not overly balanced. Today I snagged one due to the blurb in the jacket. Let me quote it for you…”The evidence he has uncovered…is so shocking, so chilling, and so credible that it needs no hyperbole.” That line alone made my top ten list of great book recommendations! The book is about exorcism. I may not even read it. I might just read the blurb again and again. The top two book names from today were, in no specific order, “Fire in the Soul” and “Improving your Serve,” the second about being a servant of Christ. Very clever, I thought.

The gal who is also removing books with me went home with a pile of Catholic books and Pope and Mother Theresa books. I went home with books about killing others in the name of your god, and an exorcism book. (I also snagged Firefox 7, the one with the snake handling) In my defense there was not one single little book about John or Charles Wesley. Not one.

Then I get home to find my baby sitter gave me two weeks notice and the guy I asked to rototill my garden came over without his rototiller because he wanted to make sure I still wanted it done. And I burned my tongue on Chinese tonight. So to sum it up, I have a prospective replacement baby sitter scheduled to come over on Thursday, the garden is tilled and I am going to go soak my tongue in some white wine.


I will finish with these quotes from a Writer’s Digest magazine, which reminds me, I need to renew my subscription.

Says Charles Bukowski, “That’s the problem with drinking…if something bad happens you drink in an attempt to forget; if something good happens you drink in order to celebrate; and if nothing happens you drink to make something happen.”

And you can’t have a quote about drinking unless you include Hunter S. Thompson, “I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence or insanity to anyone, but they always worked for me.”


More about Banned Book Week


I spent the day helping our fair citizens excercise their First Amendment rights, right up until closing time. Then I had supper around 9 and I am ready for a hot bath. Before you say, “this sounds like a Facebook update not a blog,” let me share a link with you. Tom Lehrer  The most amusing song about Roth v. U.S., 354 U.S. 476 (1957) I’ve ever heard.” …anonymous Youtube reviewer.

 Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this song are those of the composer and singer and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of wildflowersp.

I campaigned for the right to make a display for Banned Book Week. Here are some photos. My vision was to fill the bookshelves entirely with books which had been banned. I didn’t quite accomplish that, but it does look pretty cool. I fished books out of donations for our upcoming book sale to supplement books on loan from staff. I won’t tell you how many of them are my personal books…

The whole thing.


The left side.

Sorry about the reflections.


Librarians: the original search engines

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The First Amendment is a cause close to my heart. Banned book week this year is Sep 24-Oct 1.

The first time I really thought about censorship was when I heard the Ayatollah Khomeini had issued a fatwa on Salman Rushdie- the author of The Satanic Verses (a very cool link). I was in high school at the time. He wanted to kill a guy for writing a book he didn’t like. While I was harboring my own thoughts along that line concerning Nathaniel Hawthorne, the loss of The House of the Seven Gables was hardly worth the loss of The Scarlet Letter.

Why are books banned?  Profanity, sexual references, racism and religion are the main reasons children’s books are challenged in the US.

The following children’s books have been challenged in the US since 1980: Ask yourself why.

  • Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
  • Where’s Waldo by Martin Hanford
  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
  • The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis
  • The Egypt Game by Zilpha Snyder
  • Little House in the Big Woods and Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr.
  • Where the Sidewalk Ends and A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
  • Little Red Riding Hood and the Three Billygoats Gruff Traditional Fairy Tales


Tune in for more tomorrow






Lonesome Dove


I am re-reading Lonesome Dove. Hat and I got into a discussion on FB as to the merits of McMurtry as an author. I think it is the only decent book he wrote, but Hat allows that Comanche Moon was pretty good. I don’t know for sure that I tried that one, but I read so many others with complete disappointment-I can’t imagine I missed it. As I read LD, I see the things he did so well as an author. To take a step back, I read an abysmal first novel some years ago. The author was writing about her real friends, so we would come to scenes where six or seven women would be having a discussion in the living room. Most authors are smart enough not to put all of their characters in the same room chatting at the same time. The author had not developed her characters well enough so that the average reader who did not actually know her friends had no idea which person was the quirky gardener and who was the quirky cook and who was the quirky…well you get my point.

As I traveled the Rio Grande with Larry, I was first introduced to Gus shooing pigs off the porch and drinking whiskey. On page 7 when I knew Gus pretty well I met two more guys, but they are completely different from each other. You just can’t mix up Call and Pea Eye. McMurtry spent quality time…basically doing a character sketch scene with each character before he introduced another, rather than giving each a cute quirk to remember them by, even though one might have pants made from a quilt and another a prairie-dog colored moustache. I am on page 151 and I bet I have met 20 characters, each very distinctive. I noticed that he introduced some of the crew four or six to a page. These characters seem to be fairly interchangeable. 

LD is a western, but it is so much more than that. It is an adventure, a saga, a lovestory. It’s funny; the characters are unforgettable. Mc Murtry does not glaze over things like mosquitoes, which I don’t believe L’Amour ever mentioned although they had to be a huge part of life. Lonesome Dove deserved the Pulitzer Prize it won.

Then I stopped in the middle of LD to read Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. It is another saga type of book with a cast of thousands. Except most of them have odd names like Bran, rather than normal names like Pea Eye.  I do like a book with a map in the front, and this also has several pages of family trees in the back, which I have referred to often. Martin relies on these rather than character sketches at the beginning to familiarize the reader with the characters, although he did a nice sketch of one character 60 pages into the book. It is fun reading about the characters and trying to decide if they are good or evil, and sympathizing with the main characters as they try to navigate the politics of dealing with people both of you know they can’t trust. This book ended in a way that was sure to lure the reader into the second in the series. I find myself thinking about the characters. I think I will watch the movie they made and then tackle the ice wall again this winter.  

Someone told me that it takes a year after a big change like a divorce before you get your feet under you and you can find a normal. I am right at a year now, so I no longer will make excuses for stalling out in the middle of reading Harry Potter III to the ladies. Eva suggested The Hobbit and since I have never read any of Tolkien’s stuff, I officially make this my project with them just as soon as we finish HP. Eva says it has more dragons than spaceships and I trust her.

Mostly book stuff

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I am in avoidance mode again. I should be cleaning the kitchen. Or vacuuming or something. It is a good thing I left The Help by Kathleen Stockett at the library tonight, or else I would be reading it instead of blogging. I guess they are making a movie out of it. I am somewhere in the beginning of Chapter Two waiting for the third bathroom to be completed. I am really liking it so far, what’s not to like about three bathrooms? (Well, in the case of the book it is rather insulting, but I could sure use another bathroom in this house.)

I went to my favorite spot in Valentine; Plains Trading Company this weekend. This bookstore can kick the butt of any bookstore in existence for sheer quality of selection. I find it impossible to walk out of a bookstore empty-handed, so I chose The People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks on Mom’s recommendation. Wow. Great choice. I bought it Saturday and finished it Monday. This might be why I should be cleaning my house- I didn’t this weekend, but to lose myself in a book like that? It is hard to beat a book about a book.

Because I had a four hour drive (not counting the stop to visit Mari) I checked out Ape House on CD by Sara Gruen from the library. It is really good. I have a new favorite line from a book. The guy is trying to make up to her and sends her flowers. Her friend says something along the lines of: “Sending her dead plant genitalia isn’t going to change her mind.” I had never thought of that, but I also have never received flowers from someone who was trying to make up to me.

My children’s book recommendations are The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate which is a book about the little girl I would have been if I were born in the late 1800s. I am also addicted to The 39 Clues. I guess there will be 39 books in the series. That would be almost as many as Carolyn Keene wrote! Sort of. I think the whole series thing is kind of a racket.

I hear the dishwasher calling.

Poets’ Corner


I may never make it to Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey, but I did visit the gravesite of Mari Sandoz.  

You are all readers, do you have a favorite Sandoz book? Have you read any of them? Mari is buried where she grew up. Her father was a tyrant and a dreamer who chose to live in a pretty uninhabitable place then encouraged lots of other people to homestead the area too. He felt the Sandhills would support fruit trees, even though God didn’t see fit to plant anything but the occasional cottonwood or willow in the Sandhills. Some of those trees still remain. You can also see the orchard (the brown trees) in the landscape shot taken from the gravesite.


Sandhillers tend to trust people to be on their best behavior- as you can see the site is privately owned. Old Jules is the story of her father. Mari went on to write 16 books about the west, mincing no words and not romanticizing like many authors of her time.

I attended a wedding this weekend and drove through God’s Country, the Nebraska Sandhills. Folks, there is a whole lotta nothing out there, and it is gorgeous. Unfortunately it does not really lend itself to amateur photography.

I stayed with friends and got to see Naked Maiden Falls.

(And from the top of the falls)

I also came home with two dead bugs to add to my collection! Traveling with me is lots of fun. I am forever taking photos of flowers (or digging them up) and trying to catch bugs to take home. At first it seems charming, but after a couple of years I suspect it gets old. This gorgeous fella kept flirting with me last week. He has no idea how badly I wanted to take him home with me. I might even go back for him tomorrow…

What’s up here?


We filled out our census this week.  I let the ladies fill in their lines.  Jane got her two backwards.  Twice.  In the old censuses, I am thinking of late 1800s England, they asked you what you did for a living.  The children were all called “scholar” which sounds kind of smart, although I don’t know what else you would call it.  Student, I guess.

I watched a show about eating healthy tonight, some celebrity chef from England came over to one of the Carolinas to teach the community about healthy foods.  Not that I care, but for some reason we seem to believe what the English have to say to us (except when they say, “pay us taxes”).  I don’t watch The Nanny, but I might start watching this.  I hope he succeeds.  My husband goes years between seeing chicken nuggets on his plate here.  The kids?  Eh not so much.  I don’t usually “cook” lunch, but I nearly always cook supper.  GD takes leftovers for his lunch, so we don’t even get those at home. 

Tomorrow is Zumba and I am making myself go.  I seriously would like to not have to buy all new shorts because I am too lazy to lose enough weight to get into last year’s shorts.  Yeesh, self control girl.

A little girl in Mae’s class has a rough life.  Her mom is in jail for second offense Meth and her father has an ankle bracelet and may have had his computer removed from the home.  I told GD this and he said, “I wish we could be her foster parents.”  So I started looking into it.  I don’t want to get into the habit of being a foster parent, but I like the girl, and I would like to help her if we can.  She has said that she will go to Florida to live with an aunt if she is removed…again.  If she does this she will probably never see her mother again.  We did some thinking and some praying, God knows our family has our own problems…but I decided I would open the door by applying to be a foster parent and IF we are approved and IF she is removed, well the door was open, and if it is to be, then it will be.  The picture I have in my mind is the book Weekends at Belleview about the psych emergency ward where the Dr said, “what most of these people need, we can’t give.  They need a childhood transplant.”

So we are filling out masses of paperwork, with questions about how our parents raised us and what our parent’s shortcomings are.  Then they start in on us.  There are 150 questions, including questions about your kids’ strengths and weaknesses.  I have strengths on everyone, but I can’t put my finger on Leo’s weakness.  He’s a perfect three-year-old (just ask my grandma).

Mom was telling me that she has an interesting memory of the Civil Rights Bill.  If she gets around to writing it up, I will recommend it.  You can consider this a reminder Mom…

I am reading a book about China.  All other books I have read about China have been written by outsiders, I think even Amy Tan, one of my very favorite authors, is probably an outsider.  The lady who wrote this might have been raised in America, maybe not, but she has written an interesting book.  I can’t decide if it is a collection of short stories or if they will all end up connected in the end, but I had Mae read a sentence, the one about a girl named Fu Mu Lan.  Remember Mulan the movie?  Yep it is her.

Friday I am off to lunch with the Governor’s wife. (we do that a couple of times a year you know)  No, this has to do with the writing contest.  I will have to decide how to best pry my body into something remotely dressy (I refuse to buy any clothes when I have a perfectly good wardrobe if I just put a little effort into fitting into it) and then pull out my “company manners.”  It might be fun.  I will get to spend about four hours in a car with a woman who gets paid to write.  That part can’t be bad.

GD is getting calves right and left.  The longhorn bull did his work, and they are cuter than ever.  One little guy has black ears and a black nose and the rest of him is white.  I will have to take some photos.  Does anyone need a longhorn bull? 


Book Number 2 of 13


My goal is to be done with Headhunting in the Solomon Islands and Around the Coral Sea by the end of the weekend so I can leave the book at Mom’s.  What did I think?  The author went to the Solomon Islands ostensibly to record (these are air quotes not actual ones) “the physiological differences in the skeletal-facial- features of the various tribes of the Pacific”  Nobody would admit to going to Scandinavia to record the facial bone structure differences between the Swedes the Finns and the Norwegians, would they?  Maybe Hitler I guess, but this book took place in the 1920s.  My particluar book has four portraits and a large number of cute sketchlets throughout.  (Mom, ours might be a first edition, so don’t get rid of it just in case.)  

Mytinger stayed with various plantation owners (picture de Becque, the planter from South Pacific) over the course of four years while having the adventure of a lifetime.  I don’t think the author was writing in a way that was maybe any different from other writers of her time, but now it reads as prejudiced, and in incredibly poor taste.  It is a fun story and I have enjoyed it, but where she referred to a guy as a gorilla is going to stick with me.  Probably some of this is due to her tongue-in-cheek style of writing; she makes plenty of fun of herself and her friend as well.  I believe I will skip the sequel, but I have no regrets about reading this one.

Smithsonian magazine had an interesting article about the “expotition” while Caroline Mytinger’s portraits reside at the Hearst Museum Mytinger Gallery.  She was a fascinating person.

Mission #1 Accomplished


I can officially put John Adams to bed.  He was quite a guy, he accomplished amazing things, and I certainly didn’t know enough about him (but now I do).  To paraphrase (because I don’t know where it was in the book)   Jefferson was the pen of the revolution and Adams was the voice of the revolution.  So.  I was going to read 13 particular (and possibly difficult) books this year among my other books.  Well, at this rate it will take me 26 months to complete my task.  My next book will be Headhunting in the Solomon Islands and Around the Coral Sea. I had started it in an attempt to avoid reading the Bible last year, and if you have ever read Cornelia Otis Skinner’s book, Our Hearts Were Young and Gay, it kind of started out like that, the style and casual attitude towards organized travel.

I also read (listened to) Weekends at Belleview read by the author, Julie Holland.  It is an exceptional book.  She worked weekends at the emergency psych ward for nine years, and she has amazing stories to tell.

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