What is the favorite book you remember as a child?
* A Wrinkle in Time and other Madeleine L’Engle books: I enjoyed them because she had just the right mix of science and life. Her characters were so complex. The children would be in “gifted and talented” classes if they were living today. The parents were scientists or artists. She made you think.
* Romansgrove by Mabel Esther Allan: I enjoyed this book because of its time travel fantasy elements. As a child, I liked books that could take you to different places and times.
* Sir Machinery by Tom McGowen: I liked because it featured a robot who is helped by the wizard Merlin. Thus we have sci-fi elements and fantasy all in one.
* Half Magic by Edward Eager: It was a fun read because the magic didn’t work quite as the children had hoped. I understand it’s part of a series though I did not know this as a child.
* The Master Puppeteer by Katherine Paterson: The subject, a Japanese puppet theater in 18th-century Japan, was simply so exotic to me that I couldn’t put the book down and to learn a major character, a blind reciter at the theater, was really a bandit leader! Wow! No wonder her Bridge to Terabithia won the Newbery in 1978. And yes, the Newbery books were good.
What is your favorite book today?
I have several favorite books today. Confessions of Young Nero may be at the top of the list, but Spangle was also fascinating. Let me tell you a bit about it.
Spangle is set during a time of “convulsive change, of three empires that will topple before half a century has passed, of the emergence of the new nations of Germany and Italy - in short, the birth of modern Europe."
The little historic descriptive touches fascinated me: filling the Saratoga, (a balloon), with hydrogen and several other balloons with coal gas, micro-photography, the balloon post, the aluminum dinner service of Emperor Napoleon III and the bitchy gossip of his court, the traction method used to set Monday's spine after her accident, the portrayal of Russian court life during a ball, the beauty secrets of Empress Elisabeth of Austria-Hungary, explanations of sword swallowing and ventriloquism, and mention of an older form of the bicycle, the velocipede. I was curious, however, to know why Jennings had the dog trainers originate in Yugoslavia which, if I recall, did not exist as a country until after World War I.
The book ended in such a way as to suggest a sequel.
Tell us about your current book in 10 words.
Book reviews, trivia, Book discussions, food, book thoughts, blindness, and life.
What are you reading right now?
Confessions of Young Nero by Margaret George.
What books do you have on hold at the library?
None at the moment.
Do you have any bad book habits?
Yes, I can’t stop reading/listening to books even at night and just last evening, August 3, I stayed up until 4:35 a.m. reading Ben Parr’s Captivology! YIPES!!!
E-Reader or print? and why?
Audio books and braille because I am blind and cannot see print and struggled with a Kindle eReader, even reviewed it last September, for www.teleread.org.
One book at a time or multiples?
Usually one at a time, but if I have several very different books, a biography, a novel, and maybe a trivia book, I’ll juggle. But usually it’s one at a time listened to at a very rapid speed. My digital talking book machine allows me to speed up books. To see me in action visit http://www.katc.com/story/34517232/whats-your-story-episode-8-lafayette
Dog-ear or bookmark? (don't worry—Librarian Judith won't hold it against you—much)
If I used print, I’d bookmark. I think to dog-ear makes the book look messy.
Favorite book you've read this year?
Not just one, but I’ll give you the books as I have them listed on my 2017 “books read” list.
* 42. DB-Collins_ Lauren_ (Journalist) When in French_ love in a second language DB85807.
Notes from this book:
I liked what Collins thought of English usage. “I reveled in plural collective nouns ("England are winning") and pro-predicates ("They might do"), the joy of experiencing my own language at a ten-degree remove.”
In chapter 3, Collins talks about her parents' permanence, how they lived in the same place for 40 years, with the same phone number. Reminds me of my parents. She also mention a book, The Bilingual Mind and V. Nabakov. She uses origami as a verb in past tense, I origamied myself into the bath tub. Amusing. She mentions Hindi has predicate possession. King Charles V of Spain spoke Spanish to God, Italian to women, French to men, and German to his horse. Hatch, match, and dispatch trinity that described the only times a woman’s name should appear in the newspaper is mentioned when Lauren gives birth in Switzerland.
I also liked the poem she opened the book with: “You are the one for me, for me, for me, formidable” -- --Charles Aznavour, "For Me, For-mi-da-ble"
* 125. DB-Cobbs Hoffman_ Elizabeth The Hamilton affair_ a novel DB86279. Hamilton’s wife, Elizabeth Skyler, was the daughter of Revolutionary War general, Philip Skyler. She lost her oldest son, Philip, named for his grandfather, to a duel and years later her husband. She herself lived another 50 years after Alexander’s death in a dual with Aaron Burr. She was 97 when she died. Senators drew lots when Congress was first formed to see who get to serve 2, 4 or 6 years.
* 126. DB-Norris_ Kathleen The cloister walk DB42320. I loved the way she did this journal type book. She did not list everyday. She picked several days a month and spoke about what she was doing during that time at the monastery. She would also have subtitle entries under the day entries that explained bits about her life and her family and marriage. She grew up in Hawaii. She did not pursue an academic career with her poetry. But I’m not sure how she made money at it. Wonder what she is doing now?
* 128. DB-Little_ Ann M The many captivities of Esther Wheelwright DB87247. Interesting and well written. Charlotte Hebert was mentioned as an 18th-century Ursuline in New Orleans who went a bit severe with the mortification practices. Abigail Nabby Adams JR, daughter of Abigail and John Adams would make a neat novel in her own right.
* 131. DB-Robinson_ Kim Stanley New York 2140 DB87719. Much better than 2312. I liked the several stories and the way each part had alphabetical numbers with the name of the main character indicated. Mutt and Jeff were written about in third-person present-tense and the Franklin sections in first-person past-tense. Franklin was a trader. I liked how the book ended with the government nationalizing the banks who were experiencing a crisis not unlike that of 2008.
* 140. DB-Gregory_ Alexis The golden age of travel_ 1880-1939 DB50683. What this world had in abundant style, it lacked in compassion. The job of the “Black Gang,” the name given to the gangs that shoveled the coal that fed the engines of the ocean liners, sounded like hell on earth. But I’d have loved to be on the reality show that recreated it for a month. Sometimes, I read an older book. I’m glad I did with this one.
*185. DB-Picoult_ Jodi Small great things DB85761. Sometimes, I grab bits from a book, quotes, or such. See below.
Martin Luther King, “If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.” We both desperately want to be people we really aren’t.—hr8min3. Leprology is the study of leprosy.—hr10min46sec15 “What if the puzzle of the world was a shape you didn’t fit into, and the only way to survive was … to sand yourself down? … How come we haven’t been able to change the puzzle instead?”—hr14min28sec04. The three narrators of this book were outstanding!
When do you do most of your reading?
In the afternoon and evening – even into early morning.
Favorite place to read?
I think bed because I can curl up.
That is a hard one because I’ll read anything if the annotation grabs me, but possibly my favorite genre is historic fiction.
Do you loan your books?
No, I give my reviewer copies of audio books to friends and libraries.
Favorite book to recommend?
This depends on the preferences of the reader I am interacting with.
How do you keep your books organized?
Most of my books have been downloaded from the Braille and Audio Reading Download – BARD – website run by the National Library Service for the Blind. So my books are on a hard drive. Even the CD books that I have reviewed, which I pass along to friends and libraries, have been ripped and stored in appropriate electronic folders.
Re-reader or not?
Yes, Yes, but not often. I estimate in an average year I read from 175 to 300 books, but about 25% are young adult titles, shorter than many adult books. Out of the year’s total number of books read, some 5 or so books a year are rereads. I prefer to wait at least ten years before reading the book again. It always intrigues me that when I’m in the middle of the book, bits of plot suddenly come to the surface of my awareness like messages from a Magic 8 Ball.
What would make you not finish a book?
I try very hard to finish a book. But if after 30 minutes, I’m not grabbed, I have to stop. I used to make myself finish everything I started, a bit like taking your cough medicine or cleaning your plate (Yes, I am from that generation that was instructed to so do.) I’m not young anymore, life is short, and time is fleeting and there are many, many more books waiting to be considered. Too many books, so little time.
Keep books or give them away?
I share the books that I receive from Library Journal. I also have shared some books I have received from Radio Talking Book.
Anything else you might want to add?
Yes, and I appreciate this opportunity and your thoughtfulness.
I’d like to answer the question- If you had the talent and resources to research and write any kind of book, what would you write or if you – as an editor -- could commission any kind of book, what would it be: let me answer below and I really! hope you use this bit:
I have several ideas for books though I suspect the fiction options are beyond my skills and would have to be commissioned. I suspect long historic fiction is out of favor with the reading public of today. Alas.
1. Empress Eugenie: She was just as interesting as Empress Elizabeth of Hapsburg or Queen Victoria, two of her contemporaries. But I find no writer today, writer in English, who has done anything with her, be it a fictionalized biography, or even a straight memoir or biography. If French writers have written about her, I have not located the translations. She has not been written about for the young adult set though there is a series of books for younger readers that feature a young Queen Elizabeth I and other young royals, some written by Carolyn Meyer. Eugenie lived at a particularly interesting time and reigned over the circus that was the empire of the third Napoleon. It all came tumbling down in 1871 and she later lost her son in a hunting accident in South Africa. She lived until 1920. Surely, if Marie Antoinette rates, Eugenie should. Margaret George could have written the story. She did Henry VIII, Mary Queen of Scotts, Queen Elizabeth I, Helen of Troy, Cleopatra, and Nero. If I could, I would have.
2. Inca: Gary Jennings wrote Aztec. (Actually, there were several follow-up books to his Aztec, but it was Aztec that was outstanding, the others were possibly written at the suggestion of an editor to hopefully cash in on Aztec’s success. I always hoped he would have lived long enough to write Inca to do for that group of South American natives what Aztec did for Mexico.
3. Short story collection about my days at a residential school for the blind: I could possibly do this with some guidance. This type of school is rapidly fading from popularity. Most blind children today are mainstreamed into public schools. In the 1970s, this was not always true.
4. Isabella Mora: She is an ancestor of mine. She came here to Louisiana in 1779, about age 10, with her Canary Island family. I found her story interesting because two of her descendants married , and we think caused the eye condition in our family. Also, exploring her life in Spanish Louisiana would be interesting because few people recall Louisiana was Spanish for a time, not just French.
5. Wahl Diet: I’d like to go to a diet boot camp and attempt this diet. The author, a Dr. Wahl, developed it and it cured her MS or made it more manageable. But it’s a very hard diet, kinda like paleo. I’d be curious to see if it might help my Fibromyalgia Syndrome. I think it’d be a neat book or at least major article. I’d want to put it to the test. Takes money to go to see any doctor like that.
6. MFA in Gastronomy: Books have been written about the author’s time at business school, Snapshots from Hell, or in law school, One L: The Turbulent True Story … And now we need a book describing a class beginning its time at Boston University to obtain an MFA in Gastronomy. Seems such a unique degree, rather new, developed by Julia Child and Jacques Pépin.
“Perhaps it may seem almost ironic to some that a totally blind person could be interested in librarianship—a profession that, upon first consideration, might seem to be so entirely dependent on sight. But I have always loved to read. Braille and recorded books take me places and show me things I would otherwise never get to encounter. They see for me by their descriptions, their vivid word pictures, and lyrical prose. They befriend me when I’m lonely, educate me when I’m curious, and amuse me when I’m in a blue mood. I have always known I could pick up a book and for a time be in a better—or at least a different—place. Books don’t judge, ignore, or marginalize us.”
—David Faucheux, from his speech at the 2002 ALA Annual Conference in Atlanta, Georgia
It has been a more interesting and varied year than I had anticipated: many books read, countless emails exchanged, several book reviews written, many blog posts revisited, old book lists consulted, travel plans made, a few trips taken, some sleep demons battled, nocturnal rain enjoyed, a scoping career attempted, occasional restaurant meals enjoyed, die–hard Jeopardy dreams re–imagined, tenacious health issues researched, good friends telephoned, traitorous computers partially subdued, family and relatives visited, walks pursued, new and old songs enjoyed, poignant memories of media stars explored, rich veins of trivia mined, philosophical questions wrestled with—and this journal completed, all prior to my cautious partnership with a potentially frightening and labyrinthine sixth decade.
Books are the signposts that help me navigate my way through the hours of each day. I simply wanted to craft a love letter, a valentine, to books, and to tell you a bit about me and my world. I suspect that I wrote this journal to make sense of my life, asking what would happen next. Would I leave anything as a legacy when I’m gone?
I think an observation made by Jean Kwok, author of Mambo in Chinatown, might come closest to explaining my reasons for writing this journal and having it published. In an online interview with readinggroupguides.com, she said: “I feel that it is vitally important to bring certain parts of American society into the light. So many people are unsung….”
I’m pleased to take a moment to talk about myself and what makes me tick. I’d have to say books, books, and more books. Let me explain. Braille and recorded books take me places and show me things I would otherwise never get to encounter. They see for me by their descriptions, their vivid word pictures, and lyrical prose. They befriend me when I'm lonely, educate me when I'm curious, and amuse me when I'm in a blue mood. I have always known I could pick up a book and for a time be in a better or at least A different place. Books don't judge, ignore, or marginalize us. I remember long, hot, Louisiana summers that were perfect for curling up with a good book. I have had to struggle some nights to put the book away because I’d not be able to get up for work the next morning. That’s being a bit too biblioholic.
I have worked as a medical transcriptionist and braille instructor. I attended library school in the late 1990s when the Internet was starting to take off. I ran an audio blog for several years. I have also served on the board of a nonprofit organization that attempted to start a radio reading service in the town where I live. Since 2006, I have reviewed audio books for Library Journal.
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