But just because you want to be outside doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take a book with you.  Books I have read lately and really enjoyed include:

The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce – this is the other side of the story of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and I thought it was really well done.

A second reading of Lily King’s Euphoria revealed lots of subtlety I had missed first time.  Enjoyed hearing her talk at the Book Festival last week.

And a couple of mystery authors that were new to me that I really enjoyed – different kinds of mysteries.

C. C. Benison has a traditional series (known as the Father Christmas series) featuring a Church of England priest named Tom Christmas.  Titles are also a bit misleading following the 12 days of Christmas song.  But they aren’t about the Christmas holiday – although if he ever gets to a Partridge in a Pear Tree that one might be.  Titles are from the song – Twelve Drummers Drumming, etc (he has three so far in the sequence).

The other mystery author is Harry Dolan – also with three books in his series so far – the first is Bad Things Happen and you should read them in order – extra good news is that they are available in the Library.

SO – ball to you.  What are you reading?

Wolf Hall

wolf hall

An article in the Wall Street Journal about Hilary Mantel’s trilogy (she is currently working on the third book – The Mirror and the Light) about Thomas Cromwell and his relationship with Henry the VIII made me wonder if other authors have had not only a Broadway show (actually two shows – Wolf Hall Part 1 and Part 2) but a TV series made from their books before they have finished writing them.  (no answer – just wondering)  But if you haven’t read Wolf Hall – the first – or Bring Up the Bodies, the second, I highly recommend them.  Mantel does a masterful job of showing the change it creates in Cromwell as he accedes to Henry’s increasingly odious demands.  And if you haven’t read them, you still have time if you hurry before the PBS series begins on April 5 (an Easter treat).


Looking for a structure that will work for this group

One suggestion is that we move this group to a week day afternoon.  This clearly means it isn’t available to anyone with an actual day job but very few of those people have been able to attend or interested in attending.

Let me know if you have any interest in continuing a discussion about books – maybe not Bagels and books since I think of Bagels as a morning food –  but perhaps tea and cookies  and a what have you read lately that you want to talk about.  And if you are interested – what would be a time when you would like to see this happen?  Is this a monthly event – a quarterly event – a special once or twice a year event?

Puzzled minds want to know.


We are kind of struggling with a way to make this appeal to a wider audience – although those of us who come and chat about the books we have read really enjoy it.  So if you have suggestions, please send them along.  We’ll be thinking about whether there is a way to continue this for another season.

Books discussed yesterday

Wolf Totem by Jiang Rong – is kind of a semi-autobiiographical fiction.  Set in the 60 and 70s during the cultural revolution, it’s the story of a man send to be a herder among the Mongols.  Lots about the history, lots about wolves, and lots about the culture that is threatened.  Highly recommended.

The Masuda Affair: an Akitada novel by I. J. Parker a series set in medieval Japan – again recommended

The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide – not yet read but recommended by a friend.  Was the winner of Japan’s Kiama Shohei Literary Award.

The Last Days of Old Beijing by Michael Meyer, a travel writer who lived in Beijing – was in the Peace Corp in China in 1995 and spoke Chinese and lived in a court yard house in Beijing among Chinese natives.  Lots of interesting history, information about preservation in China – highly recommended.

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara (also the author of People in the Trees) – set on a remote Micronesian island.  A long book but worth the effort about 4 college friends – theme of love and friendship.  Highly recommended.

Also recommended:

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See, The Gift of Rain by Tan Twan Eng, The Garden of the Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng, Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff, In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vadey Ratner, Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in Mumbai by Katherine Boo, The Empire of the Sun by J. G. Ballard, The Map of Betrayal by Ha Jin and The Buried Giant by Kazoo Ishiguro and Everything I Never Told You  by Celeste Ng.


Stole this paragraph from the newsletter from Quail Ridge Books – only thing bad about that wonderful book store is it’s location – North Carolina.


National Book Critics Circle 2014 award were announced last week. Claudia Rankine, whose Citizen: An American Lyric (Graywolf) made history for having been the first book to be a finalist in two categories (poetry and criticism), was given the award for poetry. The fiction prize was given to Marilynne Robinson’s Lila, a companion to her earlier novels about the small town of Gilead, Iowa. Roz Chast was given the autobiography prize for Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant, her revelatory, insightful and often hilarious graphic memoir about the aging and deaths of her parents. The biography prize went to John Lahr’s Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh, which brings vibrant prose and a critic’s acumen to a biography of one of the greats of 20th century American theater. David Brion Davis was awarded the prize in general nonfiction for The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Emancipation, which suggests that slavery is both the cornerstone of and the fundamental challenge to the basic principles of New World nation-building: labor and production, citizenship and human rights.