I am a big reader and am usually reading a book on the IPad with the Kindle app or read a physical book instead. I like audiobooks in the car though I tend to get restless and fade out of listening with audiobooks. I do like Jeff Jacoby's article about how much he has come to enjoy audiobooks and why he does enjoy them so much…

"All my life I have been an avid book reader, but for the last 25 years I have been an increasingly enthusiastic audiobook listener, too. I don't recall either of my parents reading aloud to me when I was a child, probably because I began reading insatiably on my own early on, so it was only as an adult that I discovered what John Colapinto, in a 2012 New Yorker essay, called "the pleasures of being read to."
Chief among those pleasures is how rich the experience of taking in words can be when they engage the brain through the ear and not the eye.
When you read a book for yourself, in silence, there are no cues outside the text as to how the words ought to be taken. But listen to a well-read recording of a book and you are enveloped in aural cues — inflection, emphasis, animation, accent, tone — that deepen and illuminate the experience of encountering the author's words."


Dracula Beckons with Halloween

Halloween is coming! The last and latest Halloween movie will be out on the 14th.

But let's start with the novel, Dracula, written by Bram Stoker.

Here are some facts found in a recent fact of the day email.

"If you know anything about Transylvania, it’s probably that Dracula calls it home. Yet the author of Dracula, Irish writer Bram Stoker, never even visited Romania’s spookiest region. The town of Whitby, England — home to a 13th-century monastery called Whitby Abbey, which is surrounded by gravestones and has been in ruins for hundreds of years — was actually the most direct influence on the setting of the 1897 vampire novel. Stoker spent four weeks in Whitby between July and August of 1890, a visit that helped inspire his depiction of Dracula’s lair."

There have been 272+ depictions of Dracula in film. Largest number of any character. It took Bram Stoker 7 years to write the novel; he wrote 11 other novels beyond Dracula.

Bestselling Books and Birthdays

I am all up for trivia. Not that I am very good at it compared to many people. A lot of how I feel about trivia relates, of course, to my specific interests. Since I do read a lot and download Kindle books from Amazon, I get their book newsletter weekly. The one from last Friday had an article about what was the bestselling book from the year you were born with the list going back to the 1920s. Not a category I had come across in my readings.

Here we go…

My birth year of 1952:

The Silver Chalice by Thomas B. Contain

This historical fiction novel follows a silversmith named Basil tasked with creating a silver chalice to hold the Holy Grail. Two years later, a film adaptation was released starring Paul Newman as Basil in his first studio role.

Bob's birth year of 1953:

The Robe by Lloyd C. Douglas

Ten years after first topping the Publishers Weekly list, The Robe once again took the crown. Written by a former minister, The Robe follows a Roman tribune, Marcellus Gallio, and his slave, Demetrius. Stationed in Palestine, Marcellus participates in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, but is filled with guilt over his belief that Jesus is innocent, and eventually becomes a devoted Christian himself. This book was also made into a movie starring that Welshman, Richard Burton.

Shakespeare's Richards

Shakespeare is the greatest author of all time IMO. The history and politics behind Richard II and Richard III almost a century apart is a fascinating study. This article is an interesting look at the two plays, the two people and what they more likely would be if truly known and not so much caricatures.

"The Richard of Richard III is often regarded as a caricature, a cardboard-cutout villain rather like the Sweeney Todd of Victorian melodrama. But he is far more: in fact, he is a fascinating figure, from a psychological point of view."

Iconic Book Quotes

I came across this linked article about the 100 most iconic book quotes. I love books and it is interesting to see a list that people come up with. In addition, one can use such a list to find a quote that fits where needed. One such quote is a favorite of "A Tale of Two Cities" which to me seems to fit these turbulent times where so many people act like Jacobins with too many female Madame Defarges present. The list is here, the one quote is -

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” — Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities


Grant Moves Now

Earlier this week The History Channel had a 3-night, 2-hour TV program on Ulysses S. Grant. It was quite well done with a mix of re-enactments and commentary by current military figures and cultural historians. It laid out the Civil War battle strategies well to where they were understood. Grant has always been Misunderestimated as a figure in history. Much has been covered and yet much needs still to be learned.

I have written on this blog previously about having a leather bound set of The Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant. I likely have 4-5 other books on Grant in our library. The books pictured following are the set of Memoirs that I have inherited.


Irish Falconry and Language

Due to the interest of Shakespeare with falconry, the language of Irish falconry entered our lexicon through his writings. More here.

"“Now she’s ‘under your thumb’,” Healy-Rennison explained with a smile.
“Quite literally,” I replied, amused to learn the etymology of a phrase that I’ve used for most of my life. Only now I was standing in the place where the phrase was born – in the wet green woods of the Anglo-Irish gentry, with a giant hawk on my wrist, her jesses wrapped around my little finger. “Yet another phrase we get from falconry,” said Healy-Rennison, who advised me to add the extra grip of my pinkie."

Ramona and the Genius

Ramona Marek, a Facebook friend and cat writer, was set up as a vendor next to us. She was selling her book which I had written a testimonial quote for the book. She is a sweet person and a lot of help for us during the cat show. She sold 15 books and I am pleased to see she did well.


The Old Book of Cats

Even in 1868, people were crazy about cats. The Book of Cats by Charles Henry Ross was printed. It was an encyclopedic version or chronicle of feline facts and fancies, legendary, lyrical, medical, mirthful and miscellaneous. He argued in support of the cat where some people were repulsed by cats. A very fun illustration and fact-filled old book about our feline friend found here.

America and Shakespeare

What is it about America that we love and some (idiots) hate Shakespeare? We certainly do perform his plays and often many variations of it. I loved watching OPB's Great Performances of Henry VI Parts I and II followed by Richard III. It was great TV.

Read more about Shakespeare and his impact on Americans.

A Unique Library

I came across this column about the library of Guillermo del Toro's home. He has wax figures of Edgar Allen Poe and H.P. Lovecraft. It is a very unique and cozy library that looks like a Sherlock Holmes type library. An overview about this can be found on Ace of Spades here.

Quakers and Spies

My ancestors were Quakers right up until my great grandparents on my mother's mother's father's side of the family. They split from the Quakers at some point likely in the late 1800s but they came over to America with the Quakers. It was interesting to read this book review about on of Stalin's American spies who was a Quaker and a true believer in Stalinism, even when he was arrested and kept in prison in the USSR.

Dr. Zhivago's Lara

Was there a muse for the character Lara in the great novel, Dr. Zhivago? Did Boris Pasternak have a lover who was also doomed in the system? His great niece states he did. More information here from a review of her book.
Dr. Zhivago, the movie by David Lean was extraordinary piece of film making.

The Hellfire Club

I like to read quick romantic historical novels for tension relief (though not much time lately for this). A number of the novels set in England have referred to the Hellfire Club. I tended to think this was more Urban Legend but it appears this was a real club of English notables and possibly even Benjamin Franklin in part. This piece lends the thought these men were just naughty boys though I suspect there were some truly illegal and possibly evils deeds done at the time.

Book Tidying Up?

I like to have my house and "stuff" organized as the next person. Have I achieved that? In a small way yet I am a collector/accumulator. It is just a fact. Some of the largest and heaviest parts of this are our books. I probably bought and brought home more of them than Bob.
Now I read this article about the magic of tidying up with a section on books. Really? The title of this article is the heartbreaking difficulty of getting rid of books. Now that is really close to home and true.

Oscar the Reader

What with our luggage getting soaked on the outside last night, Bob was unpacking and one of our new books he had taken on the trip got wet around the edges. As we sat it out in the sunlight to dry, Oscar decided he needed a good read.

Dickens Minor Characters

I have always enjoyed Charles Dickens books. I love the BBC TV productions of these stories. I was hooked when in high school we studied "A Tale of Two Cities" and one understood the symbolism there.

So is there more to Dickens? Check it out.

"Allow me to introduce Mr Plornishmaroontigoonter. Lord Podsnap, Count Smorltork, and Sir Clupkins Clogwog. Not to mention the dowager Lady Snuphanuph. As for Serjeant Buzfuz, Miss Snevellicci, Mrs. Wrymug, and the Porkenhams… who the dickens are all these people? Why do they have such weird names?

They are the best of names, they are the worst of names, from an age of onomastic wisdom and hypocoristic foolishness, an epoch of… well you get the picture. You may recognize this raggle-taggle cast of minor characters, in all their rich variety, as stemming from the fevered imaginings of one Charles Dickens."

Mary Shelley and the Seeds of Frankenstein

Mary Shelley is the author of the novel, Frankenstein. Her family roots are a bit famous and also likely dysfunctional. Her early life and marriage was also dysfunctional which may be some of the psychology behind the wounded soul of a grab bag person of Frankenstein. This article explains more of her life and marriage to Lord Percy Shelley and life around another aristocrat, Lord Byron.


Since I like to read I came across this page listing a number of different interesting reads and authors currently. Some included some podcasts.

Another Book List of What Have I Read

Here is another booklist. It is a list of the top 20 books people lie about having read. I have read 17 of the 20.

Margaret Thatcher

I have come to admire the Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher. I am sure this would drum me out of many English homes who don't. I do remember the turmoil of labor in the United Kingdom and it seemed to be Britain was on a precipice of being dangerously irrelevant on the world stage. She stabilized the country in my opinion and brought it back more to relevancy. It remains sadly unknown if that would continue. Here is an article about Margaret Thatcher or at least a review of a book about her. It can explain why many people such as myself admire her.

Thunder Bay Books

I am a big lover of books and bookstores. I don't like to pass up bookstores and can browse in them forever or as long as the feet and knees hold up. There seems to be a bookstore in Thunder Bay area which is Canada that is dedicated to books that are obscure. A description here and…………….

"What’s most fascinating about Nicky Drumbolis and his one-of-a-kind collection isn’t its value, which he estimates is in the millions, or its size – although it includes roughly 50,000 titles, and fills the building, floor to ceiling – but the focus. He has devoted a great portion of his life and livelihood to work that, as he describes it, “slips through the cracks.” Pamphlets and hand-sewn chapbooks that were produced in minuscule print runs; novels and poetry collections published by the most obscure of presses; the work of authors whose names the world has forgotten, if it ever knew them."

Fairy Tales History

How long have Fairy Tales been around…………..maybe since before Christianity……….back to the Bronze Age. Little Red Riding Hood is one example………..

"In 2013, Jamie Tehrani from Durham University did this for Little Red Riding Hood, charting the relationships between 58 different versions of the tale. In some, a huntsman rescues the girl; in others, she does it herself. But all these iterations could be traced back to a single origin, 2,000 years ago, somewhere between Europe and the Middle East. And East Asian versions (with several girls, and a tiger or leopard in lieu of wolf) probably derived from these European ancestors."

The story about the stories' history can be found in this article.

British Folktales

I came across this article about 9 supernatural stories that come from the British Isles. One explanation of why is…

"From dragons to devil dogs, from fairies to vampires, history is full of tales of mysterious creatures that haunt the British Isles. Now, in her new book, Carolyne Larrington from the University of Oxford explores how such folktales are deeply embedded in the British landscape, and reveals how through history they have helped people to deal with ubiquitous concerns about life and death"

Who and What are these creatures or folklore stories can be found here.

The Ardennes in 1944

I have a fair size collection of history books about World War II. One author I also have read and have at least one of his books is Antony Beevor. He has a new book out about the Battle of the Bulge, a significant battle in the month of December in 1944. Watch Band of Brothers as a TV show and one will see. A bit more about the book can be found here.

"Antony Beevor, one of the finest narrative military historians now writing, is a master of revealing vignettes like this one. The Battle of the Bulge, from mid-­December 1944 through January 1945, the subject of “Ardennes 1944,” is a known story — Hitler’s last roll of the dice in the West, stripping other fronts (including the East) of prime armored and infantry units to hurl some 30 divisions at the weakly defended American line in the Ardennes forest. It was here that the Germans had dazzlingly shattered French resistance in May 1940, driving tank armies through the forests, defiles and villages of this compact hill country. The hope now was to split the Allied armies, shattering the Americans and driving the British into an evacuation. It was a fantasy: The German military — sorely lacking in fuel; its cadres of experienced sergeants and officers depleted by years of high casualties; short of food and ammunition, let alone the transport to move them; and inferior in the air — could probably not have succeeded. But at the price of around 80,000 casualties on each side, it gave the Americans and British a real scare."

More Little Free Libraries

I have wanted to organize a group of neighbors to build a Little Free Library here in Berlin. The Thayers could certainly provide a number of books for sharing. I just need to get myself going and find neighbors who would help build it. We have the plans for one.
It sounds like some towns and communities don't like having them around and are cracking down on them. Check it out here.

Elmore Leonard

One of Bob's and my favorite TV shows was Justified. Just the best to us. It is no longer on TV. The person who wrote the character of Rayland Givens and the inspiration behind the scripts was Elmore Leonard, author. I came across this NYBR article about the Elmore Leonard. Enjoy!

Murder and Macabre

What makes us fascinated by gruesome crimes? Why do we enjoy reading about the macabre? Or watching True Crime stories on the TV. A new book about "Murder by Candlelight" might tell us some of the story. Here is a book review about this interesting but gruesome topic.

"Beran frames his arguments within a recounting of some of the most notorious murders of the 19th century, exploring how and why these tales are so fascinating. In one skillfully wrought volume, he cleverly feeds our appetite for horror even as he probes this appetite. He lets us contemplate our fascination at the same time we’re experiencing it, watching as he explores its origins philosophically, historically and psychologically."

Sherlock Holmes' Mail

Sherlock Holmes lived at the famous address of 221B Baker Street. It wasn't a real address when Arthur Conan Doyle was thinking him up as a character. The address was only added much later. When it did, as a bank, the mail flooded in to this famous address. The bank hired a secretary to respond to the letters coming in. More about the story here.
I have been by 221 B Baker Street in London though not right to the museum there. It seems that I come close but have not taken the time to stop and take tea there. Winking)

Harper Lee

One of the best and interesting books out there to read is Harper Lee's, To Kill A Mockingbird. It was her primary novel and until now she had not written another book. This first one was so huge and noted by so many people that it seemed to drive Harper Lee into seclusion. Now she has written another, Go Set A Watchman, which I believe is a followup with Scout as an adult. The first chapter has been place online so people can read this anticipated book. So let's 'go set a watchman'.

10 Best Independent Bookshops

Too bad this survey was compiled by the Guardian newspaper. Not my favorite but I am glad that Powell's Books in Portland is number one. I do like Mr. B's Emporium of Reading Delights in Bath England. I will need to go back and check this out. But do read the list and look at the cool photos.

Goodnight Moon

If you want to read an interesting tale of a children's book that started out small in sales and later blossomed into a major bestseller in that category. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown was said to be hypnotic to children when read and would put toddlers to sleep quickly. The author assigned the royalties in her will to a family's children who were close to her. The middle child received huge royalties as the book sales grew… but,

"You’d think that a story about a children’s book might have a happy ending; perhaps Albert would use his money wisely and generously. No. In 2000 Joshua Prager tracked Albert Clarke down for the Wall Street Journal, writing that “in the intervening years, the trajectories of Ms. Brown’s book and the boy who inherited it began to diverge with strange symmetry.” Prager describes a life of squandered millions, murderous fistfights, theft, a sequence of broken homes, domestic violence, lost custody of children, clothing bought and thrown away instead of being washed, houses bought and sold at a loss, vagrancy, debt, drug abuse, and arrests on an array of charges ranging from menacing and resisting arrest to criminal possession of a weapon, criminal trespass, assault, and grand larceny. According to Prager, Albert Clarke said he believed-with no supporting evidence or corroboration from any source-that Brown was his real mother, a notion his older brother Austin characterized as “delusional thinking. It’s a fairy tale that makes him feel better.” "

David McCullough

David McCullough is a very good author and also TV voice. He has written a number of interesting books and now has one out on the Wright Brothers. He was recently interviewed for his interests in books to read. The questions are quite good and it gives you a sense of his interests. At least other authors to give thought to.
Read about it here.

Men Who Pulled The Triggers

What makes some people follow orders and do horrific crimes in the "normal" course of their lives or duties? What made Germans and others turn on Jews, Gypsies, and others to lead them to their deaths or commit the act of murder. A new book might have some insight. The review is here.

"We know a lot about how the Germans carried out the Holocaust. We know much less about how they felt and what they thought as they did it, how they were affected by what they did, and what made it possible for them to do it. In fact, we know remarkably little about the ordinary Germans who made the Holocaust happen -- not the desk murderers in Berlin, not the Eichmanns and Heydrichs, and not Hitler and Himmler, but the tens of thousands of conscripted soldiers and policemen from all walks of life, many of them middle-aged, who rounded up millions of Jews and methodically shot them, one by one, in forests, ravines and ditches, or stuffed them, one by one, into cattle cars and guarded those cars on their way to the gas chambers.

In his finely focused and stunningly powerful book, "Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland," Christopher R. Browning tells us about such Germans and helps us understand, better than we did before, not only what they did to make the Holocaust happen but also how they were transformed psychologically from the ordinary men of his title into active participants in the most monstrous crime in human history. In doing so he aims a penetrating searchlight on the human capacity for utmost evil and leaves us staring at his subject matter with the shock of knowledge and the lurking fear of self-recognition."

Thomas the Train

Choo Choo Ryan as mentioned a few days ago had an awesome birthday. A lot of his gifts centered around his interest in trains, especially Thomas the Train. There are a number of versions of Thomas to purchase. They seem cute and harmless.

Little did I know that Thomas is not well liked in Great Britain. He is too authoritarian I guess and regimented. Not good for the kiddos. For a little history about Thomas the Train or Tank Engine, you can read about the reverend who invented him.

Early Feminists

If one reads about English literature and especially from the Regency period, you will see mention of Mary Wollstonecroft as an early spokes person for women. Of course, many of us know her daughter better, Mary Shelley, who wrote Frankenstein.
Now and author has written a biography of both women within the realm of the same book. Usually mother and daughter have been treated as individuals and separately. Here is an interesting take and review of this new book. It may be one I will need to consider buying.

Burying Caesar

Was Julius Caesar the greatest person (besides Jesus) who lived? Or at least one of the greatest? He certainly had an impact over a lot of history and a wide range of the known world in his day. From Britain to Egypt, he made his mark.
Now someone has written a book about his death. Was this the most famous assassination in history? Possibly, maybe up there is Lincoln's too.
To read more about this book of his time and final days, please go here.

Laura Ingalls Wilder

A book has come out recently that is a mix of old and the new. It is a book based on Laura Ingalls Wilder's experiences with comments and footnotes from the editor of the book. It has become a big bestseller and is only in hardback. The first edition is selling around 10 times the issue price. It is not an e-book at this time due to the complexity of the book. Fascinating on how we still treasure the touchstone pieces of literature from earlier days. Maybe a number of us don't want to be entertained by Kim Kardashian and her family after all. A book review is found here.

100 Bestselling Used Books

I came across an article about another article covering what are considered 100 of the bestselling used books. I have read over time 31 of them and have around 10 more in my library that I have not read. So I am close to reading or buying about half of the list. I suppose that makes me a bookaholic or at least somewhat well-read. The list is found from AveBooks here. This is a good used book site.

James Madison

We have a large library in our house. Many books. A fair number of them are history books and exceptionally good ones about U.S. Presidents. One person who is often credited with being the writer and voice behind the Constitution is James Madison. We have visited his home in Virginia and almost went again (drove by but the cost to enter was too expensive then). It was interesting and his life with Dolly sounded also a story to hear. Now there appears to be even more a focus on his life. There are 4 new books out about James Madison and you can read about them here.

Books About Madness

Well, with my busy schedule lately, I have not been able to do much in the reading line. Certainly I can't keep up with the books I'd like to get through. I do like to read about what ones are out there. Here is a list of great novels about madness. Interesting and quite mad I would guess. Check it out here.


Russia is well known for a large number of artists - from composers, to poets, to ballet, to writers. One of the best was Fyodor Dostoevsky. His best known work was Crime and Punishment. I came across this information about how he and his writer colleagues were put through a mock execution in 1849 by Czar Nicolas I. This particular Czar was an autocrat and harsh on the peasant population. More about Dostoevsky's background, his work, and what inspired him can be found here.


I like maps. In fact, I love maps. Old maps are the coolest and such a snapshot of history "then". I came across this article about some maps that have helped shape the world. Check them out here.

Three Short Horror Stories

I came across online one time some links to online stories and books. One portion covered some favorites of shorter horror stories. Here is a set of three labeled, "Pigeons From Hell" by Robert E. Howard.

The Admirable Crichton

I came across this blog with the unusual name of "Gladlylerne,gladlyteche". The subject of this particular post was the story of a man, an individual who was a prime example of rising quickly and burning out, dying at a young age. This refers to The Admirable Crichton. Quite a career this young man had from Scotland through the European Continent. Read about it here.

"If you have heard of the Admirable Crichton at all, which may be unlikely, it is probably in connection with J. M. Barrie’s once-famous play of that name (1903). The Admirable Crichton is an imaginative satire on the theme of the British class system, sort of a combination of Downton Abbey and Lord of the Flies. It is rather brilliant, but now probably hopelessly “dated”."

Disorganized Books

I saw this photo of a book store (I presume since it looks like the used book store in Lebanon looks like or looked like before it moved). The title for the picture was " one can never have too many books" which is true. Certainly this can feel like our house feels with all the books yet we aren't terribly disorganized………they are just in bookcases in most every room of the house.


I love to read when I have the time. I do most of it on a tablet because I can read across different e-book sellers platforms where I have purchased books. We do have 2 ereaders in the house.
I came across this link to info about BookBub as a source for discount electronic books.

"Josh Schanker, a Boston-based digital entrepreneur, thinks that he might have the solution. Like the DailyDeal, his company, BookBub, sends out a free daily e-mail that highlights deeply discounted books. However, unlike Amazon's service, BookBub offers bargains for users across all major reader platforms, including the iPad, the Kindle, the Sony reader and the Nook. More importantly, though, it allows users to select books across 17 different genres -- far more than the four offerings that come in each Daily Deal e-mail."

Shelby Foote

Potentially the most authoritative collection on the Civil War is the 3 book series of Shelby Foote, The Civil War. We have owned this set for many years. It is well done. This article is a fascinating piece of how a young man became immersed in this subject and spent almost 20 years writing a classic on this particular war. Well done, Shelby, well done indeed.

Beatrix Potter, Naughty and Mice

Many of us have been exposed to the stories of Beatrix Potter. Cute little stories of mice and rabbits. I can't say that I am knowledgable about her stories. I have seen the books and have some of the stories in children's book I own. My biggest exposure is visiting the Royal Doulton store in Vacaville, CA where they sold Beatrix Potter figurines as collectibles. I bought some of the ones that I found cute and cat related. Learn more about Beatrix Potter's life and stories here.

"No Christmas story is more charming than Beatrix Potter’s The Tailor of Gloucester, set in the Regency, “in the time of swords and periwigs and full-skirted coats with flowered lappets.” The author said that it was her favorite of all her tales for children. With an important commission due on Christmas day—the mayor is getting married, and needs his resplendent coat “of cherry-colored corded silk embroidered with pansies and roses”—the tailor falls ill. He is hungry, poor, old, and desperate. But he has always been kind to the mice who infest his house, much to the disgust of his servant Simpkin, a cat—and it is the mice who come to his aid in his illness, finishing his commission on Christmas Eve with their nimble sewing, singing cheerfully in their communal act of seasonal charity."

Peter Pan Continues

I just wrote about how Bob Hope was part of my growing up. So was the yearly show of Mary Martin playing Peter Pan on TV, flying across the stage. There have been many renditions of the story of J.M. Barrie's. This is the visual that will stick with me through my days. While we have so many other new animated figures the young ones watch on TV, Peter Pan will be timeless. So much more of a story and imagination. This is what we miss so much in this day and age, imagination. So much is spoon-fed and simple, PC and poll tested for quick absorption. What we need are those times of reflection and time for us to let our thoughts blossom and fly along with Peter Pan.
Mary Martin as Peter Pan………..
mary-martin-peter-pan- 12-20-14

Bob Hope, Entertainer

Growing up and during many formative years, Bob Hope was the entertainer who signified entertaining for the military troops overseas or the MC of the Oscar night show. I also loved the earlier movies he did with Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamarr. They were frequently shown on the few TV channels we would get out of Portland through the TV antenna. Could one call him the Entertainer of the Century? I would think so since he lived a long and productive life entertaining. A biography has been written of his life and accomplishments. To read the book review and learn a little more about him, it can be found here. He was a funny guy and could put you in stitches.

The Night Before Christmas

So who wrote The Night Before Christmas tale? There is some dispute about who was responsible. One fellow has been described as the most likely though a distant relative through his wife may be the author. At least his family claims so. It is certainly a story that is ingrained in our Christmas holiday culture. Many children have been raised looking for Santa to deliver the presents in a setting with the stockings hung with care and not a creature was stirring. Not even a mouse or if they did, our cats would get them. Read on about this lovely poem from 1823, so long ago it was just yesterday…….

Jason and the Argonauts

When I was younger I enjoyed watching such movies as “Jason and the Argonauts”. The Ray Harryhausen special effects were cool and well done for that age of cinematography. They still show these movies often on the weekends on TNT or other movie channels.

There is a Greek poem called “Argonautica” and entertains much of this type of tale. More detail can be found here about this work and how it stimulates the imagination and story-telling of today.

“Back in the 1950s and early ’60s, there flourished a cinematic genre now sometimes called sword-and-sandal. Loosely speaking, this category included B-movies featuring Steve Reeves as Hercules, mighty epics such as “The Fall of the Roman Empire” and gorgeous fantasy swashbucklers, many with special effects by Ray Harryhausen, including “The 7th Voyage of Sinbad.” What weary aging heart wouldn’t love to be 12 again on a Saturday afternoon, seated at the Palace Theatre waiting for the opening credits of “Jason and the Argonauts”? Remember the bronze giant Talos! The flying Harpies! The Clashing Rocks! The fight with the skeleton army!”

Paperback Books and World War ll

Did paperback books help win World War ll for the Citizen Soldier? Did it help with their war experience and to pass the time? Maybe this was their type of dime store novel. Find out the background here.

“A decade after the Nazis’ 1933 book burnings, the U.S. War Department and the publishing industry did the opposite, printing 120 million miniature, lightweight paperbacks for U.S. troops to carry in their pockets across Europe, North Africa and the Pacific.

The books were Armed Services Editions, printed by a coalition of publishers with funding from the government and shipped by the Army and Navy. The largest of them were only three-quarters of an inch thick—thin enough to fit in the pocket of a soldier’s pants. Soldiers read them on transport ships, in camps and in foxholes. Wounded and waiting for medics, men turned to them on Omaha Beach, propped against the base of the cliffs. Others were buried with a book tucked in a pocket.”

A Page for Free Books

Here is a webpage for accessing a number of free books. One such section is the 51 volumes of Harvard Classics. A lot of other items are able to be found here too. At least a lot of free reading.

Ia Drang

There is a good Mel Gibson movie based on the book, “We Were Soldiers Once and Young.” This was based on the Vietnam battle in the Ia Drang in November of 1965. The book was written by Joe Galloway and Lt. Col. Hal Moore’s book. A bit of history and detail about this can be found at this web page.

Zombie Obsession

I have featured articles by Michael Totten on this blog before. He is an interesting writer and also a fellow Oregonian. He has also written a Zombie book, Resurrection, which probably will lead to a sequel. The book is optioned for a movie. Because of this, he has written an article not related to war or distant locations, but one about our Zombie obsession (which I admit I have). I am a Walking Dead fan. I like to watch Zombie movies and shows and read the books. It is different and not run of the mill, even if there is a lot of Zombie stuff out there. Check out his look at where The Walking Dead has been over the last years and Zombie mania.

“Zombies seem to be everywhere these days. Barnes and Noble called the decade from 2003 to 2013 a “Golden Age for zombie fiction.” Max Brooks—son of comedian Mel Brooks—has written several zombie-themed books, the most popular of which—2006’s World War Z—sold more than 1 million copies and inspired the blockbuster 2013 movie of the same name, starring Brad Pitt. (I recently jumped into the genre myself, with a novel called Resurrection, which has been optioned for film.) Zombies dominate the video-gaming world. Dead Rising 3 for Xbox One and Microsoft Windows, released last November—the latest in a zombie-killing franchise—has already sold 1.2 million copies, at $50 a pop.”

The Princess Bride

Some movies make “cult” status, sometimes quickly, other times over time. “The Princess Bride” is said to be of the latter category. It is certainly one I enjoy to watch and it has one of the most quoted lines from any movie in it. Mandy Patinkin delivered it. Patinkin is a wonderful actor and singer. One of my wishes was to see him perform and I did finally get to do so in San Francisco a number of years ago. He was smaller than I expected and pale (probably due to stage makeup). He did put on a good show. All I can say is read Cary Elwes book about the movie and read this article about it all. INCONCEIVABLE!

More Hot Zone

Richard Preston is the author of the book I mentioned a few days ago, “The Hot Zone”. He has an article today in The New Yorker called, “The Ebola Wars”. He has such an interesting way of writing about diseases to bring it all down to the feeling it is right in front of you waiting to be touched (or not touched in this case). I wish we could have him communicate the real life scenario than the basic hacks from the government who make you feel like they just lie to you or want to talk down to a person. For his take on the current Ebola situation in west Africa, go here.

The most dangerous outbreak of an emerging infectious disease since the appearance of H.I.V., in the early nineteen-eighties, seems to have begun on December 6, 2013, in the village of Meliandou, in Guinea, in West Africa, with the death of a two-year-old boy who was suffering from diarrhea and a fever. We now know that he was infected with Ebola virus. The virus is a parasite that lives, normally, in some as yet unidentified creature in the ecosystems of equatorial Africa. This creature is the natural host of Ebola; it could be a type of fruit bat, or some small animal that lives on the body of a bat—possibly a bloodsucking insect, a tick, or a mite.

Before now, Ebola had caused a number of small, vicious outbreaks in central and eastern Africa. Doctors and other health workers were able to control the outbreaks quickly, and a belief developed in the medical and scientific communities that Ebola was not much of a threat. The virus is spread only through direct contact with blood and bodily fluids, and it didn’t seem to be mutating in any significant way.”

Spies Come In From the Cold

John Le Carre wrote the ultimate spy novel, “The Spy Who Came In From The Cold”, many years ago. It is considered to be based on the group of Cambridge-educated men who were friends that went on to be spies for Russia within the British government. The amount of information and secrets they shared with Russia was huge and devastating. The story of the men and their clique at university is fascinating. A recent book has come out about the most well-known of the group, Kim Philby. The title is called, “ A Spy Among Friends”. To read about the background, find it here.

More Pasternak History

Here is some more detail about the new book on Boris Pasternak and his history with the CIA. There is a small piece in the CIA’s museum dedicated to their role in bringing his book, Dr. Zhivago, to light and the rest of the world. It is interesting history. There is an under story here too, in that Pasternak had a lover/mistress who was likely the model for Lara in Dr. Zhivago. They both had an interesting life together. Many of these artistic people live a life in a far distant pane of existence than I do or would probably care to. Happy
The article and review of the books on Pasternak can be found here.

Dr. Zhivago and Pasternak

One of the most beautiful movies, movie scores, and love stories is Dr. Zhivago. Set in the time of the Russian Revolution and the turmoil at the Bolsheviks took over, it has many historical periods to pull together. The book was written by the Russian poet, Boris Pasternak. There is a story and a book about this the background of the book and movie are found here. Evidently, Pasternak believed he would be executed for writing this book because it would be considered subversive and not for the people. Yet, it would go on to be considered an all time great novel.

Kids, Books and Cats

I wish they had this type of reading program when I was a kid and went to the Lebanon Library. I love to read and certainly enjoy being around animals, especially cats. It would have been close to heaven to be able to go and spend time with cats at a shelter and read to them while there. This is a fun article and I can just feel the tension leave just reading and looking at the pictures. Please check it out here.

Tolkien and Beowulf

The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings stories have captured the book world for many years and the movie world in the last 10 plus years. Have you ever wondered where some of the Middle Earth language came from? Thought about what were some of the underpinnings of characters and threats found in the stories?
Read this article to learn more about how Tolkien translated the early Old English story from the eighth century time period of Beowulf. Tolkien’s son has released the translated version for publication. Tolkien was a professor of language and Old English in his day. The article is quite interesting in how this came about and a description/comparison with other translations of Beowulf. What do some of those unique words mean?

For Sale, Dracula's Castle

Bran Castle, the setting for Bram Stoker’s Dracula, is up for sale. The castle is a 13th century fortress owned by the Hapsburg royal line and is considered for purchase by the Romanian government. Bram Stoker never visited the castle and relied upon a description of Bran Castle as the setting for Dracula. Stoker also drew inspiration for the vampire character from Vlad lll, the Impaler, born in Transylvania in 1431. Read about it all here.

“And in the novel, Stoker describes the Transylvanian Count's fortress as sitting high above a valley, perched on a rock above a flowing river. As the Bran Castle website notes, this castle is the only sucortress in Transylvania that fits the bill.”

Bran Castle

Poll of Top 10 Favorite Books

A Harris-Nielsen poll this past March listed the top 10 favorite books of people. They also polled as per ethnicity and also political persuasion. The Bible is the top favorite. Coming in second for men is The Lord of the Rings series and for women it is Gone With the Wind. Read about the breakdown of popularity here.

50 Books That Make You Enjoy Reading

Real Simple send out daily recipes and tips. They included one today about “books that will make you want to read”. The fifty books are primarily children’s to young adult’s books though there are some adult type reading in the mix. I have read a good portion of them and would agree with the ones presented overall. To go through the list, you can check it out here.

Dante's 'Divine Comedy'

I have read some of the classical literature but not as much as I probably should. I had no idea of the value of Dante’s classic book, ‘Divine Comedy’, as a possible self-help book. It was written about 700 years ago yet people find value in the trials and tribulations Dante found in his own life. One columnist for the Wall Street Journal found just such a benefit in reading the book when his life seemed to take on depressing challenges of its own. You can read about his experience here.

“Everybody knows that "The Divine Comedy" is one of the greatest literary works of all time. What everybody does not know is that it is also the most astonishing self-help book ever written.

It sounds trite, almost to the point of blasphemy, to call "The Divine Comedy" a self-help book, but that's how Dante himself saw it. In a letter to his patron, Can Grande della Scala, the poet said that the goal of his trilogy—"Inferno," "Purgatory" and "Paradise"—is "to remove those living in this life from the state of misery and lead them to the state of bliss."

The Comedy does this by inviting the reader to reflect on his own failings, showing him how to fix things and regain a sense of direction, and ultimately how to live in love and harmony with God and others.”

Best Bookstores in the World

Read about 18 of the best bookstores in the world people should visit just once. A concept that would be great if one had time and then money to do so. Powell’s Bookstore in Portland did make the list. Many in the rest of the world did also. Some pretty cool photos to be found in this article and list.

Top 10 Books People Lie About Reading

Here is a list of the top 10 books people lie about reading. They say they have read the book so they appear knowledgable and important. Of the list, I have read four. Most of these many years ago. One is a a favorite of mine,
A Tale of Two Cities. Check out the list here. See how you stand up against the group. I would say, I would like to read the whole list since they are a good group to do so with.

Books Presidents Like

There have been a number of these blog posts that talk about books. There will likely be many more. I did come across this one article that told of the favorite books of all the 44 Presidents. You can check out the reading material here.

Checking Out Poetry

Do you like poetry? I find that I do, at least certain types and when I am presented with it. We probably don’t appreciate it as much as we should. Certainly, my favorite is Emily Dickinson. I seem to find her work will dig into my psyche more than most poets. I did come across a Poetry Foundation online where one can find certain poets and their work with some background information along with the poems. It is a good source to have handy so here it is.

Fantasy, The End of the Worlds?

Some are speculating that we are seeing fewer and fewer authors who create fantasy otherworlds that become cultural touchstones. George R. R. Martin is the most current who has done so. Where are the new C.S. Lewis, Tolkiens, Baums, Carrolls, and Barries just to name a few. This article poses the question and discusses what the prior authors thought of their genre.
On another note, some of the reason there are fewer authors catching on in the culture of fantasy might be found in this clever blog article by Sarah Hoyt where she writes of the dysfunction found in the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association. It will put a smile on your face with the interesting way she mixes short descriptions with photos and gifs.

Little Free Libraries in Communities

Awhile ago, the local paper had a story about individuals who built small sharing libraries in their communities. It described how they built the sharing center outside. I just recently saw another article on the internet about how many of these little free libraries are popping up around. More beyond the excerpt below can be read here.

“Some of the best things in life are free.

A subscriber to that notion, and an avid reader, Judy Selle is apparently the first Decatur resident to offer a Little Free Library at her home. “I live in such a nice neighborhood, I wanted to give something back,” she said.

Selle, a member of the Decatur Public Library's Book Club, got the idea from her cousin, Jean Lawyer of Heyworth, who encountered one of these small outdoor libraries-on-a-stick at a New England bed and breakfast in summer 2012. Lawyer's husband, Dennis, then had one built for her as a Christmas gift later that year.

She followed suit to honor Jean Lawyer's mother – the late Mary Lou Bollero – a beloved aunt and a former librarian at Holy Trinity High School in Bloomington.

Measuring about 26-by-20-by-12 inches, Selle's library opened for business in October in the front yard of her South Shores home and contains approximately 40 books divided into four sections – one for hardcovers, another for paperbacks, a third for children's books and a fourth for copies of the Herald & Review when she's finished reading it.”


EReaders and Libraries

Well, I have to call myself a reader. One of my mottos in life is “reading is breathing”. That means it is essential to life, my life. In the last 5 years, ereaders have become part of the reading landscape. I have one friend who buys all his books, especially textbooks related to his field of work in electronic format. Easier to read and to store. I have a number of books in electronic format and have taken to reading them more on my IPad since I can buy Kindle, Nook, and IBooks as such. It is handy and easier than holding or carrying large books especially while traveling. I still take a print book on a plane since they have not allowed electronics powered on the first and last 10 minutes of a flight. I still take pleasure in sitting in a chair reading a good book and the joy of seeing my library shelves at home stuffed with lots of good books. We should be the Berlin library. I did find an interesting discussion about how some view ereaders versus having space taken for a physical library. You can enjoy the article here and see a bit of our library with the library cat, Oscar, standing in the doorway. What a life.......a recliner chair, a window seat, a cat, and books.

More Books Game

I have finally encouraged Bob to add an item to his Bob’s Blog. He was interested in the top 10 books game that I posted on December 14, 2013. He had a struggle because like me there are far too many books that we like and have made a big impression. Bob let himself get bogged down in the worry of getting them all listed right. I advised just start writing and get it rolling. The inspiration will come and crowd out the angst. So far he has 15 books listed which I am breaking up into sections and placing on separate days.
It is difficult to remember them all. More come to light every day that are good reads to recommend or make an impact. I realize that I did not add in “A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens. The description of Madame Dufarge sitting and knitting the names of all the aristocrats who should be guillotined into her work is timeless and frightening. The French Revolution was not romantic, it was very mob-like and dangerously evil.
I was also watching a Masterpiece Mystery movie of Agatha Christie’s “A Pale Horse”. No question that she is the grande dame of murder mysteries and a fascinating read. So many British authors have followed in her footsteps to offer up wonderful books.

Tolkien Phrase and Morality

I read in one recent article that there is a lot of the basic traditional human nature to be found in Harry Potter books as in JRR Tolkien’s work. One example they used and I saved is this......................

“Asher-Perrin’s piece is a particularly clear expression of the
animating moral sense that has attracted people to Harry Potter since
the first book came out. The moral universe of Harry Potter might best
be summed up by a quote from the movie version of JRR Tolkien’s The
Hobbit. In that movie, one of the characters say that some believe “it
is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I
have found. I’ve found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk
that keep the darkness at bay… small acts of kindness, and love.” “


The 10 Books Game

I saw this idea on Ricochet today...............doing a 10 books game. As the blog author notes…

“List 10 books that have stayed with you in some way and why. Don't take more than a few minutes and don't think too hard. They don't have to be "great" books, just ones that have touched you in some way. As always the 'why' is the most important part.”

To get a sense and see what others have listed for their 10, you will need to read through the comments. I will start with my list though I will probably need to come back to finish at a later time.
P.S. I thought I might have a problem gathering the 10, I actually should have more.

Anne of Green Gables/Lucy Maud Montgomery: I was an only child and had to often live with my own company and thoughts. Anne reminded me of myself in many ways and the need to find those kindred spirits in our lives. LMM brought to life a world of wonder on the farm on Prince Edward Island. I can only say how special it was to see LMM’s home.

The Secret Garden/Frances Hodgson Burnett: Another young person’s book, of loneliness and friendship, developing within a wonderful bit of nature, a secret garden.

The Third Reich/William Shirer: The book that totally grabbed my interest in history, especially military history of World War I and World War II. It is a large book yet it showed how small things can change the course of history or could have done so and possibly saved many lives or set a different course. I have learned the concept of counterfactuals.

Undaunted Courage/Stephen Ambrose: Another history that grabs you and is written in such easy understandable wording. The story of Lewis and Clark’s journey across the continent and what they faced in this journey. I have been to St. Louis, the beginning of the trek and we have been to Fort Astoria where they wintered at the end. Their story is really a lot of the story of the Pacific Northwest and Ambrose draws you into their story with a firm grip and does not let go.

Outlander/Diana Gabaldon: Time travel and romance. Two intertwining factors mixed with a Scottish Highlander warrior and a capable American woman.........what more can you want. Emotional chemical highs, bodice ripping, and other tasty reads. This book got me into romance novels as “tension relievers”.

Katherine/Anya Seton:
I read this book many years ago. The romance between Katherine Swynford and John of Gaunt (third son of King Edward III of England and father of King Henry IV). Their children and descendants had a huge impact on the future of English history especially in the 15th century of England. The book made me a Plantagenet history buff for a lifetime.

The Bronze Horseman/Paulina Simons:
A sad and beautiful story set in Leningrad between two souls falling in love and dealing with the horror of totalitarianism and war during World War II. Simons’ writing seems to burrow into your soul and consciousness and take root. Her writing and this story was even one Bob found enjoyable and he liked it.

A History of the English Speaking Peoples/Winston Churchiil:
Churchill is an awesomely impressive writer of history. I have read through these 4 volumes several times and learned so much that makes me an English history fan forever. I have other sets of his..........World War I, World War II, and on his ancestor, John Churchill-the first Duke of Marlborough.

Dracula/Bram Stoker:
The ultimate initial horror story. Hide under the covers and read so Dracula won’t find you and suck your blood. Great read and shiver maker.

Salem’s Lot, The Night Shift, The Stand/Stephen King:
The contemporary horror story author. I read all of King’s earlier works. I do find later ones more of a slog for me. These three kept me up late at night unable to stop reading to see what fate awaited me when I did.

The Stranger Beside Me/Ann Rule; Helter Skelter/Vincent Bugliosi: Both are the ultimate in True Crime reads. Written by authors who know how to bring you into the mindset of the criminal(s), the victims, and all the other people who surround them and are impacted by the crime.

The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Simarillion/ JR Tolkien: An author and a set of books to take your imagination to another level. Not science fiction yet other world claiming. Other peoples even. The menace of evil in the world and how goodness and determination of will can fight against it. Who will win out.........Sauron and his hordes of Orcs or little Hobbitses bolstered by Elves, Dwarves,Wizards, and kingly Men.

The Bible:
Enough said. I have read the whole holy book and it is the ultimate read.

I know I could keep going though this should be enough to get a conversation going, don’t you think? I got to the unlucky, lucky number of 13 in a manner of speaking.


Finishing up all the details for uploading on the ABVP certification. It will be a long night adding items for CE for each lecture hour onto the website, one lecture at a time.
The second part of the Peter Jackson movie, The Hobbit, is opening Friday night. I wish we could see it. It will probably have to be at a later time. I did see this article by Bill Whittle that talks about Tolkien’s relevancy to the menace and evil of the current times. I would have to say I have seen that myself in his work (or at least the movie version). The following is an excerpt, a small piece of the article.

“Sauron is not evil because he wears black armor. Sauron is not evil because he is warlike. Sauron is the embodiment of evil because all of his strength and power is deployed to bend every living creature to his will.

To that end, he has put all of his strength and will into a single Ring of Power: the circle, the zero -- golden and beautiful and precious, it will draw every living soul into its bottomless depths.”

The Generals

The article to be found here is a review of the book, The Generals: American Military Command from World War II to Today, by Thomas E. Ricks. The review appears to be critical of the book and its delivery of this information. The review itself is an interesting read.

“The central claim of The Generals, military journalist Thomas Ricks's assault on post-World War II American military history, is that once upon a time the U.S. Army won because poor generals got fired. Since then, Army generals stopped getting fired so much, and now the Army does not win wars.”

Military History Books

Victor Davis Hanson, an author of history and military aspects of it, has listed some of his recommended books for reading on Pajamas Media. He is an exceptional author in my opinion, well above my intelligence level. Other writers have their selections in this section of the website. Check it out here.

Thrones of Desert and Ice

I have mentioned before how I enjoy reading and watching the book series of George R. R. Mitchell. A mix of kings, queens, and country across the frozen north to desert wasteland. One discussion of the series and TV rendition is found here.

Book List of Your Own

The following blog post has a unique feature, a list of 100 books that the post’s author enjoyed and read. So, instead of having angst over how many one may have read in this list……….make your own book list. I would have to say that I have only read about 25% of his list, a % number the author is frustrated by when he reads other book lists.


Lee Child is due to have a new Reacher novel out within a few weeks. He is one of my favorite authors to read. I got Bob hooked on his books too. His books are not fluff and I feel each word used means something. It is “to the point” type of writing. So, it was with enjoyment that I came across this article of another Lee Child fan. I can see from other authors listed that this person and I would have a lot to talk about. He poses the question of which book is a person’s favorite of Lee Child’s. I have to vote the first I read, 61 Hours. It was taught and tense. It pulled me in to where I could not put it down. I love the mental analyses Reacher goes through to evaluate a tough situation or where a fight can ensue. He plans it out and it usually works. The bad people are “toast” in the end. Yahoo!!!

Webster Knows Dictionaries

The man who developed the first U.S. dictionary was Noah Webster. He was a lesser known Founding Father. He helped to build the U.S. Census, develop worker’s compensation, copyright law, and benefits to others along with publishing the first dictionary for our country. The book sold over 100 million copies. His cousin was Sen. Daniel Webster so it was a talented family all around. To learn more about him, look here.

Justified and Writing

One of the best TV shows around is Justified. Timothy Olyphant portraying Reylan Givens is a superb actor and made for that role. The writer who wrote the short stories that Justified is based upon is Elmore Leonard. Mr. Leonard passed away the other day at an age in his 80s. He was a very popular author and there was a recent article re-posted from 2001 that discussed his views and rules on writing. He advised easy on the adverbs, exclamation points and watch the Hooptedoodle. I find it always pays to listen to someone who has demonstrated they know what they are doing and he fits that bill. Here is another article from someone else who Elmore Leonard gave good life advice.

The Spy Who Loved

Every now and then, a person comes across bits of lesser known history that fascinates and also is significant. I came across a book review describing spies from the time of World War II. One of the most useful and daring was a woman of Polish heritage who called herself Christine Glanville. From all descriptions, she was quite the woman who loved men and quite the derring-do spy.

Christine Granville was one of the bravest, toughest and strangest secret agents of World War II. Her feats of derring-do included acting as a courier in Nazi-occupied Europe, parachuting into France in support of the Allied invasion and rescuing three of her comrades from certain execution. She was said to be Winston Churchill’s favorite spy — a considerable accolade given how much Britain’s wartime prime minister liked spies. She may have been the model for Vesper Lynd, the female agent in Ian Fleming’s first James Bond novel, “Casino Royale.” She won medals for bravery from both Britain and France. Men found her irresistible, and she did very little to resist them. (from the NYTBR by Ben Macintyre)

Christine Glanville

Books That Changed My Mind

An interesting column the other day by Scott Johnson of Powerline Blog. He contemplated about books that had changed his thinking, primarily with the focus on political leanings. I have not read any of the books he listed. I would have to spend some time considering what I would list in a similar situation. I have written in this blog about books that have changed my beliefs or interests in the past. Some books that would come to the foreground that have had an effect are Melanie Phillip’s Londonistan. It has had a huge impact on my understanding of how our Western culture and civilization is being challenged. Another book is William Shirer’s tome, Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. It taught me about how the little twists and turns of our history lead to such huge upheavals to civilization along the way. One small change could have headed off a historical travesty or sent events off into another direction. The old counterfactual aspect of history.
I am sure there are many other books that I can add here. I will return to this piece to add more in the future.

King Leopold's Ghost

Another of the myriad of books I own is one about King Leopold of Belgium, King Leopold’s Ghost. In the 1800’s, he decided he needed to have more territory as a colony and income for his kingdom of Belgium. He moved soldiers into the country of the Congo in Africa and over time, made the population slaves to his industry. Stanley of history fame was actually his agent in the initial colonization of the Congo His industry was the takeover of the rubber industry. Many of the population died during this occupancy and he was able to hide it from the rest of the world for awhile. Eventually, word leaked out. More details about the dark chapter in history are found here.

Book Riot Listings

I like having my book library. I know that many have shifted to having their library easier and on their E-reader. I like the use of the E-reader too though it does not fulfill the deep sense of owning a treasure trove of the written word and knowledge. Here is a link to 10 of the top libraries of the rich and famous listed on Book Riot. Personally the Stone House library at the John Adams home in Quincy, MA is right up there to me. Otherwise on this list, I would pick the library at William Randolph Hearst’s castle near Cambria, CA.

Kipling's Indian Families

One area of history that I have marginal knowledge of is that of India. There has been much intertwining of peoples between those of India and England through the East India Company. As previously mentioned, Rudyard Kipling has written so lyrically about India. Here is another example of his work and some of the families and history that have made up parts of India. It is definitely another world from Oregon.

Reading Room

The past few days have been very rainy and blustery. The type of days one just wants to go into hibernation and not venture out. When I hibernate I like to grab a good book, curl up and read it for several hours. I came across this picture earlier of a book room that was so appealing. We have our library here though I could certainly entertain spending time at Casa de Muse.

More Kipling

Approximately 50 unpublished poems of Rudyard Kipling have been found inside a house in Manhattan. The poems have now been published in three volumes. One such poem is --

Never Again In Any Port

Never again in any port
That sailor people use
Can we or our broken sons consort
With the joyous shipping there
After our shame we have lost our right
To the fellowship of the sea.
We dwell alone without the camp
Shall our habitation be.

To read about what was found, please go here…..

Rudyard Kipling, circa 1913


The Cat that Walked by Himself

In exploring more of the reading site of Rudyard Kipling poems, books, and short stories, I came across this short story about The Cat that Walked by Himself. It is definitely a demonstration of what the cat thinks of himself versus what man and the great canine enemy think of cats. It is just a fun example of Kipling’s style of writing and imagination. Read it here. Illustrations here.

The Man Who Would Be King

Rudyard Kipling is considered one of England’s greatest poets and authors. He certainly held large sway on the public during the lead up and time of World War I. His writings of the Indian sub-continent certainly carried the imagination of many people. I became more focused on him an a person when watching the movie, My Boy Jack, which told of Kipling’s gung ho support for England aggressively pursuing war against the German Empire in World War I. That passion stirred his son, Jack, to join the military where his life was lost as so many young men did in those times. Kipling felt the loss keenly because he felt he was much the cause of it. I had read some of his work though not “The Man Who Would Be King”. A fascinating read from a great writer. Please read the short story here.


Great Military Reads

This webpage is enough to make a book lover, especially one of military history, go happy-crazy! If one had the time and money, you could use it all up in buying and reading these books. Of course, there is the library though it costs annually here since we do not live in town. This is a history book lovers dream of a webpage. Yahoo!!!! I do have a number of these books and can definitely attest to the author’s skill at writing………Antony Beevor, Nathan Philbrick, Kearns Goodwin, Hastings, Ambrose.

The Thayer Library (in part)

Tolkien Ring

JRR Tolkien wrote The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings series of books. They are a fascinating read and the movies have resonated in society with familiar messages. There was a recent story that Tolkien’s One Ring that reunites the many had a basis in fact or history. A recent ring from Roman times is on display and was seen by Tolkien at one time in his career. Could it be the One Ring?

The ring is believed to be linked to a curse tablet found separately at the site of a Roman temple dedicated to a god named Nodens in Gloucestershire, western England. The tablet says a man called Silvianus had lost a ring, and it asks Nodens to place a curse of ill health on Senicianus until he returned it to the temple.
An archaeologist who looked into the connection between the ring and the curse tablet asked Tolkien, who was an Anglo-Saxon professor at Oxford University, to work on the etymology of the name Nodens in 1929.


The Searchers

Considered one of the best and most classic Westerns in movie genre is The Searchers with John Wayne. The story behind the John Ford directed movie is the capture of Cynthia Parker as a young girl by Comanche raiders and her life as a Native American captive until rescued. One of her offspring was Quanah Parker, a legend in Comanche lore, and Texas history. He became a large landowner in Texas after living and fighting as a Comanche. A recent book describes the making of the movie and our struggle as we tamed the West with settlers with the Native American peoples. For another take on this topic and book, the Wall Street Journal has this article

John Wayne in The Searchers

Two more articles on this topic can be found here and here.


Years ago, I went to see Charleton Heston speak in Walnut Creek. It was fascinating and he discussed at that time you need to know English to advance in this world (so much business and art occurs in English). This article talks about a version of that concept. Those who have larger vocabularies know and can do more.

So there’s a positive correlation between a student’s vocabulary size in grade 12, the likelihood that she will graduate from college, and her future level of income. The reason is clear: vocabulary size is a convenient proxy for a whole range of educational attainments and abilities—not just skill in reading, writing, listening, and speaking but also general knowledge of science, history, and the arts.


We rang in the New Year with those people in New York City. Probably with those in Chicago though not with those on the West Coast. Pretty quiet here out on the farm.
We are going to spend the day enjoying some personal interests and trying to relax. A foggy start to the day though it is to be sunny at some point. Happy New Year!


Real Books

I am flying to Philadelphia today. One thing I used to do when I flew before 2009 was take a number of books with me. It was comforting yet it was also heavy. With the onset of the electronic reader, I have a number of books at my fingertips to read though I always have one small book for take off and landing because of the rule of everything powered off then. E-readers have taken off and in one way they will make it easier for more people to read. Unfortunately, they are the bane of the written book and bookstore, primary and used types. This article describes the loss to us who love books of being able to walk into a bookstore and spend time browsing and enjoying the look and feel of a book. Electronic readers and internet book sales have taken a lot of that away. (VT)

How Many Books?

I have never counted the number of books we have in our house (and in the tack room of the barn). Certainly, the movers counted dollar signs and weight of books when we moved back here to Oregon. The numbers have certainly grown from those days and do not encompass the number of e-books through Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and ITunes we have for readers.
So I have to mention an article by a gentleman who talks about being a bibliophile. The article is titled “My 6,128 Favorite Books”. There is certainly a bit to describe the type of personality disorder people like us have. I could probably be the lending library for this community.
The following photo was downloaded from the article (courtesy of Thomas Allen).


Booker Prize

Tuesday was the announcement of the Booker Prize. Hilary Mantel, an author from Derbyshire, won her second Booker prize for the second book of the trilogy on Thomas Cromwell, “Bring Up the Bodies”. She is one of a few authors to win two Booker Prizes and the sequel mentioned was the first to win as such. The original book is “Wolf Hall”. The third book will be titled “The Mirror and the Light”. I have read the first of her series and will have to read it again. I will need to purchase the sequel and read it soon. BBC appears to be planning to show this as a mini-series and they also will have a series like The Tudors on The War of the Roses. Oh, I bet that will be something to watch!

Memorable First Sentences

There are those questions that make you think and engender others to share their thoughts too in answer. I read a blog post today on the blog, Richochet, that was written by Peter Robinson. He is a very interesting fellow who interviews many leading figures of our times. The interviews are fascinating discussions and certainly, he has to craft questions that enhance dialogue and therefore, learning. His question on this blog was about which books have individuals read, in this case, autobiographies, with memorable first sentences. One of his examples is the superb autobiography of Ulysses S. Grant. The comment section went on to include thoughts from members on their favorite first sentences. I jump into books so fast that I am past a first sentence in light year speed. So, I went back to see what LMM wrote for “Anne of Green Gables”. It is long, yet pulls you right in to the heart of the story about a girl and Avonlea.

“Mrs. Rachel Lynde lived just where the Avonlea main road dipped down into a little hollow, fringed with alders and ladies’ ear drops and traversed by a brook that had its source away back in the woods of the old Cuthbert place; it was reputed to be an intricate, headlong brook in its earlier course through those woods, with dark secrets of pool and cascade; but by the time it reached Lynde’s Hollow it was a quiet, well-conducted little stream, for not even a brook could run past Mrs. Rachel Lynde’s door without due regard for decency and decorum; it probably was conscious that Mrs. Rachel was sitting at her window, keeping a sharp eye on everything that passed, from brooks and children up, and that if she noticed anything odd or out of place she would never rest until she had ferreted out the whys and wherefores thereof.”


Haunted Wood Hollow at Green Gables House

A Big Book Sale

The blog would not be complete without showing another child who seemed to enjoy the pizza party the other night. Nathan, David’s new nephew, is about 16 months old now and growing. He is usually a happy fellow whenever everyone gets together. He certainly had fun mashing the pizza pieces around. Happy

I can’t pass up the opportunity to mention a story that really hit my interest in books. The author, Larry McMurtry, has owned 4 used bookstores in the town of Archer City, Texas. Each building has thousands of books!
He recently held what he called the Last Book Sale to bring the numbers down as he closes up the bookstores. The books were sold in boxes of topic or interest type. Powell’s books seems to have left with scores of boxes of auctioned books. Mr. McMurtry hoped to turn this town into another Hay-on Wye, which I have visited three times in Wales (just over the border from England). It is the book lover’s paradise. His idea never panned out for Archer City. It would have been a wonderful dream and experience to attend this Last Book Sale. I just go to the modest ones here in Lebanon, though the sales at the library branch in Walnut Creek could be crazy with book buyers grabbing all the best books they could haul.


One reason this website was first set up three years ago was because of my interest in coaching. Part of coaching is active listening, asking questions, and encouraging conversations with and among others. One book I really enjoyed and took a course twice on was Fierce Conversations” by Susan Scott. The courses were taught by two wonderful people that I think of highly and consider friends. The people are Dr. Jeff Thoren and Sally Stamp of Gifted Leaders. I cannot recommend them more to others for coaching and facilitation. They care about the people and the results.
Today, I participated in a one hour webinar from DialogueWORKS on the 9 Points of Good Dialogue. It was interesting and also a followup to what I have learned before. It is important to listen to what others say, not pre-judge, and ask authentic questions. Care about what you might learn from others. In some of the area of emotions playing a part in our conversations, he mentioned “We don’t know what we know!” and “Tone is the emotion that fills us up.” Or in our house, we would joke with the kids--“Maintain low tones!”. The fellow with me in the picture below listened and heard my need to park close to The Citadel in Halifax so I did not have to walk up a steep hill with my right knee. He was so kind to have a photo taken with me when we came back for the car.



Somehow I did not get a blog in yesterday so I must do two today and since we got our package of “goodies” that we shipped from Bangor ME one week ago, this is the second for today.

Another trigger for me to start using and enjoying my interests like photography comes from someone I know asking me last year, “What do you do for fun?” It was distressing to think that I am frequently not letting myself relax and enjoy my interests and passions. Many times I let the complexity of how to do them overwhelm me and not at least give it the “good old college try”. Reading is one of my passions and my slogan is “READING IS BREATHING.”

One book I had made note of and planned on getting was “Quiet” by Susan Cain or subtitled, “The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.” I have taken the Meyers-Briggs test and am a good fit for an ISFJ.
The “I” definitely means that I am an Introvert and I say with a big “I”. I have to coax myself to move out from that umbrella term and reach out to meet new people or strangers. One has to do this if they want to do the best thing for the groups they work with. It is often the best thing for us anyway. I have met some very nice people by reaching out.

The one thing I know is that I do get frustrated that as an introvert I am often taken for granted by others or the “larger than life” types fill the void you leave and one then might as well be a speck on the wall. On the jacket of “Quiet” it states--- “ ‘Quiet’ shows how dramatically we undervalue introverts, and how much we lose in doing so.”
One thing that means is that I first must not undervalue myself. Look up “Quiet” too.


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