Book Reviews

I love to read. I’m one of those people who fit into the category of “so many books, so little time.” I have a library card and I’m not afraid to use it. My wish list has 247 items. I borrow books from family, friends and co-workers. Occasionally I’ll even read a book that hubby has. Hey, it’s happened.

But that phrase “so many books, so little time” is true. I can’t spend all day and all night reading, and even if I could, I still couldn’t read all the books that strike my fancy. One has to decide which books to read and which books to leave on the want-to-read list.

Book reviews can be helpful. I have all kinds of book review email newsletters sent to me. They are one reason my list is the size it is (and growing). I have a friend, Judy King, who reviews science books. I love science books (among others). This year Judy started reviewing books for the Story Circle Network. She recently finished her tenth review and now has her own Story Circle Book Review page. With her tenth review, she became one of their “star” reviewers.

Some of the books Judy reviewed were on my to-read list before she reviewed them; some got added because I read her review. If you’re looking for some science books to read and need help deciding, take a look at Judy’s book review page. Don’t be surprised if your to-read list gets a little longer, just like mine did.



A Space Ship

A letter to the children of Troy, Michigan:

16 March 1971

Dear Boys and Girls,

Congratulations on the new library, because it isn’t just a library. It is a space ship that will take you to the farthest reaches of the Universe, a time machine that will take you to the far past and the far future, a teacher that knows more than any human being, a friend that will amuse you and console you — and most of all, a gateway, to a better and happier and more useful life.

Isaac Asimov

I came across this information on the blog Book Patrol: A Haven for Book Culture and followed a link to the Troy Public Libary, where there is more information about “letters to the children of Troy.” You can see photographs of some of the letters there, including the one from Isaac Asimov.

In 1971, the new public library in Troy, Michigan was opening. The children’s librarian Marguerite Hart wrote to many notable figures asking them to “write a letter to the children of Troy about the importance of libraries, and their memories of reading and of books.”

Hart received 97 letters in return “from individuals who spanned the arts, sciences, and politics across the 50 states, Canada, the United Kingdom, India, the Mariana Islands, and American Samoa.” From Saul Alinsky to Vincent Price, from Isaac Asimov to the Pope, the letters provide a cultural snapshot of the early 1970’s and convey the essence of the value of libraries.”

Maybe if we thought of librairies as space ships it would be easier to get funding to keep them open.


It’s a mystery

I love reading mysteries. I fondly remember my mother sharing Agatha Christie books with me when I was a teenager. That’s how I got my start.

Mostly, when I’m reading, I’m just along for the ride. I don’t catch the clues. Someone’s nervous tick doesn’t strike me as remarkable. Ditto for missing buttons and such. Can I tell if someone is lying? No, I can’t. At the end, when the culprit is revealed, I’m surprised. (Which really is the point of it being a mystery, isn’t it?)

I’ve read all of the Agatha Christie books — over 80 — and only guessed “whodunit” in one of them. And that’s “guessed,” not “figured out.” Mostly though, I never guess correctly or figure it out.

I had a little bit better record when watching the TV series Murder, She Wrote, with Angela Lansbury. Sometimes the clue was so in your (my) face that even I didn’t miss it. But usually the clues just zipped right over my head.

Now, the TV series Columbo had a totally different angle. The audience knew who did it from the very beginning. We knew, but Columbo didn’t. The question was not “whodunit” but “how is he going to figure it out?” Even if I missed the beginning of a Columbo mystery, all I had to do was see who Columbo was bothering the most to know who the murderer was. That would be the person for whom Columbo always had “just one more question.”

In books, though, I can count on one hand and have fingers left over for the number of times I’ve correctly guessed whodunit in 40 years of reading murder mysteries. This year, for some reason, I took a different tact on a couple of books. After I decided that all the characters had been introduced and without trying to guess the motive, I asked myself “Which one of these characters, as they are presented so far, is least likely to be the murderer?” Twice now, the character I identified turned out to be the murderer. Still, I can’t say that I suspected them, only that I identified them as the person who I thought would be last on the suspect list or maybe not on the suspect list at all.

It’s a good thing I’m not a detective.

Hurry up and wait

I finally remembered the password to my online library account. I even managed to put a book on hold. (See, I can learn new tricks.)

I’m #114 in line for the book.

Let’s see, each of the 113 people in front of me can keep the book for 3 weeks. That’s 339 weeks. Divided by 52 weeks in a year = 6.5 years.

I hope I still know how to read by then.