"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe


The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe is one of those disturbing Holocaust stories set mainly in the infamous concentration camp in Poland--- Auschwitz. And remarkably, it contains new information. Information based upon a real-life remarkable girl, Dita Kraus. When she was fourteen she and her parents were transferred by the Nazi’s from the Terezin ghetto to the Auschwitz family camp. Apparently the Nazi’s schemed on a plan to trick the Red Cross by placing a few hundred Jewish members in a family camp and allowing the children to attend school. If the Red Cross came to the camp, the Nazis could show them how humanely they were treating families by allowing them to be together and by allowing the children to go to school.  It was in this school in Block 31 that Dita became the librarian of eight precious and illegal books. The Nazis supplied nothing for the school but did allow some adults to teach the children music, patriotic games, etc. If they knew about the books a lot of people would likely be punished. Dita had to be very careful.

The books were a rag-tag collection of works: one atlas, a Russian grammar book, a geometry book, and a few novels, including one by H.G. Wells, and another, The Count of Monte Cristo, published in French. No matter how odd the collection, the books were checked out by the teachers so they could teach students certain concepts.

The school and time spent in Block 31 was a respite for Dita, the teachers, and for the children. Daily life was so terrible. Survival was a struggle for everyone, though even in the worst of conditions, children find ways to have fun and to be silly. In one scene a group of children, led by a brash ten-year-old, made a raid on the kitchen hoping to get potato peels for a snack. Adults wear themselves out pointlessly searching for a joy they never find. But in children, it bursts out of every pore.”  Death was just a breath away at all times. This time ended good for the participants, but it could have ended badly. One day, one half of the family camp prisoners were put to death, nearly 3000 souls gone in a day. It is too terrible to even think about.

Yet, somehow, Dita and her mother survive even after the school is closed and they are transferred to several other camps within Germany. They survived to realize freedom as the British soldiers rescued their camp. Later Dita married a boy she met in Block 31 and they settled in Palestine in 1949. It was a happy ending to a horrific life.

I had the worst high school education on the topic of world history. As I look back on my education, it is a wonder I know anything at all. I never even heard the word "holocaust" until I was in college, and when I did hear it I had to pretend I knew what it meant until I had a chance to look it up on my own. I did read The Diary of Anne Frank in junior high but I don't recall the teacher ever using the word "holocaust." After college I read The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom. It wasn't until years later that I read Elie Wiesel's Night, which was one of the first first hand accounts written by a survivor of a death camp. Since then I have read several other books on the topic, including information books, and felt that I had a pretty good handle on the horrors of the Holocaust. then along comes The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe. I am shocked to learn that Auschwitz, the worst of all the camps, actually had a little school and there was a girl who was the keeper of the books...a librarian for the smallest collection ever. “Each time someone stops to tell a story and children listen, a school has been established.” It makes me cry to think of the simple beauty of holding and reading a book amid all the suffering and horror of the camp. 

As moved as I was by the book, I found it a difficult book to read. One reason is obvious. It is hard to read books about such terrible event, especially knowing that they happened in a similar fashion in real life. The second reason, I thought the book to be a bit flat in its ability to convey the feelings of the prisoners. I suspect that this is a translation issue. Antonio Iturbe is Spanish and he wrote the book in his mother-tongue. It was translated by Lilit Thwaites, a former professor from Australia. My limited experience with translated works is that they often come across a bit flat. The nuances of the language are lost in translation. And my last issue with The Librarian of Auschwitz was the length of the book. At over 400 pages, it seemed to go on endlessly...but then there was a lot of story to tell. It took me a long time to build up enough of a head of steam to finally push past the half-way point and then I was able to complete it quickly from that point on. My favorite bits of the story talked about the value of reading and of books. They have real power to save and to make the world a bigger, better place.
“Throughout history, all dictators, tyrants, and oppressors, whatever their ideology - whether Aryan, African, Asian, Arab, Slav, or any other racial background; whether defenders of popular revolutions, or the privileges of the upper classes, or God's mandate, or martial law - have had one thing in common: the vicious persecution of the written word. Books are extremely dangerous; they make people think.” 
The end of the book has a biography of "What happened to..." some of the real people referenced in the book. I was dismayed that Dr. Mengele was never found after the war and died of natural causes in Uruguay where we was living in hiding. As of the printing of this book Dita Kraus is still living in Israel but she often returns to Prague, her first home.

Note: all quotes used in this review are from The Librarian of Auschwitz, unfortunately I couldn't supply the page numbers as my source (Goodreads) didn't list them.

-Anne

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Review: Facing Frederick: The Life of Frederick Douglass



Facing Frederick: The Life of Frederick Douglass: A Monumental American Man by Tonya Bolden is one of those essential books that every middle and high school library should have one their shelves. Published in 2018, it is a highly attractive and authoritative account of the life of one of America’s true heroes.

Last year President Trump gave some little speech in which he mentioned Frederick Douglass and it was pretty obvious from the way he spoke that he knew nothing about Douglass, even making it seem that the famous x-slave was still alive. “Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who's done an amazing job and is getting recognized more and more, I notice,” Trump said without realizing the man has been dead for over 120 years  (Wash. Post). It was funny at the time, but really sad in retrospect.

Frederick Douglass lived a phenomenal life well beyond being an escaped slave who wrote about his experiences. He was a “reader, teacher, orator, self-emancipator, abolitionist, author, editor, intellectual, civil rights activist, women’s rights activist, public servant, diplomat, statesman, humanitarian, husband, father, grandfather” and I would add, a voting right’s activist---lobbying not only for voting rights for blacks but also for women. Some say that Frederick Douglass was the Martin Luther King, Jr. of the nineteenth century in America. He never stopped trying to make the country a freer and fairer place for all people. When he died in 1895, “a hush fell upon the land”. These words he wrote about the death of Abraham Lincoln but were true at his passing, too.

I love information books like this one authored by Tonya Bolden. It is full of photos, samples of works by Douglass, and illustrations. It is readable, with a target audience of 5-8th grade, though I think high school students would benefit from reading it, too. (Heck, I am an adult I learned a lot from reading it!) It has source notes, a Frederick Douglass timeline, photo credits, and an index which make it useful for research projects.

Check Facing Frederick: The Life of Frederick Douglass: A Monumental American Man out from your local library. I am sure you will find it interesting, too.



Monday, April 23, 2018

TTT: Frequently found words on titles of books I've read

Top Ten Tuesday: With the use of analytics on Goodreads, these are commonly found words in titles of books I've read.
GIRL(S): 37
The most recently read books with GIRL in the title:

BOOK: 38
The most recently read books with BOOK in the title:

WORLD: 30
Most recently read books with WORLD in the title:

Other words which showed up frequently: America(n)---30; Love--- 22;
Boy(s)---18; Dog(s)--- 10; Moon and Star(s) each----9; Novel--- 8; New(s)--- 7.

Interesting, huh?





Saturday, April 21, 2018

Dear "Dear Fahrenheit 451"

BOOK REVIEW---Spence, Annie
---Critical and complimentary

Dear Dear Fahrenheit 451,
     I wanted to love you. I really did. In fact, I placed you on hold at my public library and had to wait months for my turn to read you. Does it count that I wanted to read you? I hope that makes you feel a little better about yourself. Let me explain.
     You see, your subtitles really got me excited---Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks and A Librarian's Love Letters and Breakup Notes to the Books in Her Life--- because I love reading books about books and I am always interested in finding out what books other people love. I often find excellent book recommendations to add to my reading list that way. And besides, it was super fun to think about reading a book with two subtitles. Who has ever heard of that before?
     Anyway, it was finally my turn and the audiobook of Dear Fahrenheit 451 was available for checkout and, bonus, it was read by your author, Annie Spence. She has a good reading voice and I could tell that she is a real character who dearly loves books and her job as a public librarian. The book is a series of love letters to books that Ms. Spence loves, and breakup notes to books she no longer likes, or must remove from the library shelves.  She explained that after all the normal stuff that people think of librarians doing, like making book recommendations to their patrons and ordering new materials, she also had to do a job called "weeding". Just like in a garden, flowers grow best if the gardener gets rid of the weeds, a library only stays fresh and vital only if the old, ratty, out-of-date materials are weeded and removed from the collection.
     Since I was a librarian, I know how difficult it is to a weed a book out of the library collection. "What if a student comes in looking for a book like this one some day?" or "I purchased this book with my limited funds and now I am removing it and hardly anyone has read it. What a waste." These were frequent thoughts in my mind as I weeded the library. Apparently Annie Spence went one step further and actually justified her actions by writing a breakup note to each book. The first few of these notes were funny. When she broke up with her first book, The Calculating Book: Fun and Games With Your Pocket Calculator, I think I actually laughed out loud. It is hard (and expensive) to keep a library collection up-to-date, but this example seemed hopelessly out-of-date. Why hadn't it been weeded long before that time?
     Many of the love letters really touched me. The first love letter was written to The Goldfinch, which is a book I love, too. The letter begins with an apology from Spence for allowing the book to fall apart. Literally. The book was falling apart with a broken spine and the pages falling out. The reason for the book's state--- Spence kept recommending it to patrons. Time for a new copy. I had that same experience in my library. Not surprisingly the books I recommend the most were usually the most dogeared. Another favorite book of Spence's, The Virgin Suicides, has gone onto my reading list. She couldn't say enough good stuff about the book, I will just have to read for myself to see if I agree. So far you and I were off to a good start. I liked Spence's writing style and tone. I could relate to her examples.
     Then it happened. I started to notice that the breakup notes were getting sillier and I doubted that Spence had read them at all and the love letters weren't quite as thrilling and tantalizing. My brain would start to wander, a real problem when one is listening to a book compared to reading it. Sometimes I couldn't even remember what book she was referencing. Perhaps, I thought, Spence should have stopped when she was ahead. Did she include books in you, Dear Fahrenheit 451, to meet some page requirement? Or was she just making fun of some of the book selections in her library? I'm ashamed to say, that at this point in the book, I actually said something pretty negative about you to another reader. Sorry.
     Just when I was ready to stop listening altogether, the love letters and breakup notes stopped and lists of book pairings appeared. Once again I was hooked and once again I decided that the audio format was wrong. I wanted to look at the lists and spend a little time with them. One cannot do that with an audiobook. I barreled on and finished listening to you but I also went back to the library to request the print version. Back onto the waiting list I went, this time the list was longer and I had wait a really long time before you came in. I just received the print edition the other day and now will have time to look at the suggested book pairings lists, which I do think is such a clever idea. Librarians often ask patrons what books they have previously enjoyed reading and will make their recommendations based on those answers. I really need to scrutinize the list for myself and for my friends who often ask me what they should read next. I hope to take the time this weekend to do this.
     So, dear Dear Fahrenheit 451, I didn't love you completely, but I certainly liked you and got a lot of good from reading you. I gave you three stars out of five on Goodreads but would likely upgrade that to 3.5. Will I tell my friends to read you? Sure, but I will warn them away from the audio version and I will caution them about the middle part of the book seeming a bit silly and/or mundane. You really are quite clever and I did, overall, have a lot of fun with you. But our relationship is nothing serious, even though I do like you, and I won't be taking you home to meet my mother.
     P.S. One of the questions that Annie Spence asked in the book was how to pronounce Pulitzer Prize. I know the answer. I saw the woman make the announcement this past week for the 2018 prize winners and she pronounced it PULL-itzer. I was thinking about you as I listened.

My best and much love,


Thursday, April 19, 2018

Friday Quotes---Dear Fahrenheit 451

Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Rose City ReaderShare the opening quote from the book.
Th
e Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's VoiceFind a quote from page 56.

Check out the links for the rules and for the posts of the participants each week. Participants don't select their favorite, coolest, or most intellectual books, they just use the one they are currently reading. This is the book I'm reading right now---


Title: Dear Fahrenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks: A Librarian's Love Letters and Breakup Notes to the Books in Her Life by Annie Spence

Book Beginnings:
"Dear The Goldfinch, We've grown apart. Or, I guess, you've grown apart. Like, physically. Your spine is torn to crap. The hardest part about this? I'm the one who did it to you. I love you so much, Goldfinch."
Friday 56: 
"Dear The Fledgling...When people say books are full of wonder, we don't take it seriously enough. You are over thirty-five years old. You smell like old paper and smudged fingertips. You've lain dusty and untouched for decades. And you're magic. You are. You can't work wonders for everyone because, like things with magic inside them, you have to wait for the right hands to touch you at just the right moment." 
Comments: The first of this book is so cute with Annie Spence, a public librarian writing letters, mostly loving ones, to books. The second part of the book is her suggested book pairings, a unique way of making reading recommendations. It is a fun, often funny book.




Monday, April 16, 2018

TTT: My favorite books from each of the past ten years

Top Ten Tuesday: Today is free choice so I decided to list my favorite book from each of the past ten years. Making up my own rules: I read these books during the year listed, they weren't necessarily published that year.

2018 (so far)
Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
I just finished listening to the audiobook last night so it is quite fresh in my mind. The story is devastating but the writing is phenomenal. (Pub. 2017)

2017
The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood
Right up my alley: quirky, funny, poignant, sad, hopeful, and tremendously satisfying.  (Pub. 2016)

2016
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
I was blown away by this Pulitzer Prize winning novel about a DR-American guy who is a complete misfit until he goes home to the Dominican Republic (Pub. 2007)

2015
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doer
This is one of those books that I think about all the time. The writing was just spectacular. (Pub. 2014)

2014
Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya
This coming-of-age tale is so magical. I just love it. (Pub. 1972)

2013
The Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
The most delightful, off-beat cast of characters one ever hopes to meet. This is especially good in the audio format. (Pub. 1980)

2012
The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
Something about this book really struck a chord within me. It was a tough but rewarding read. (Pub. 2006)

2011
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
I am jealous of people who haven't read this book yet because when they do they will get to experience it for the first time themselves. What a funny, funny book, especially in the audio format. (Pub. 1979)

2010
The Plot Against America by Philip Roth
This may not have been my favorite book if you had asked me in 2010, but looking back I think about this book ALL the time. It has really made a big impression on me. (Pub. 2004)

2009
Couch by Benjamin Parzybok
Lord of the Rings except instead of a ring, there is a couch. It is so funny. (Pub. 2008)
(This might not be my favorite book of 2009, but it my favorite from among the few I listed on Goodreads for that year, the first year I kept track on the site.)

Note: When making retrospective lists like this I am aware that this list is a refection in part of how I am feeling today. If I made this list tomorrow likely it would contain different books.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Sing, Unburied, Sing. A quick review.


I am in a rush to write this review tonight for Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward. Why? Because the Pulitzer Prizes are being announced tomorrow and I have a funny feeling that this is the book which will take the top prize for fiction literature this year. And I want the world to know that I picked it, too!

Sing, Unburied, Sing is a tough book to read because it deals with a tough topic. In fact, I am not sure I will ever "recommend" this book since I doubt anyone will every say that they like it and by extension will wonder about my taste. But the writing. Oh my, the writing.

The story is about a multi-generational family living in Mississippi, barely eking out an existence on a small farm. It is told through the voices of several narrators: Jojo, a 13-year-old son of a black mother and white father; Leonie, his drug-addicted mother; and the tortured soul of a boy, now a ghost, that Pop, Jojo's granddad, knew when he was imprisoned in Parchment, the Mississippi State Penitentiary. The story begins with a torturous road trip when Leonie insists that her children accompany her and a drug-using friend to pick up their white father, who coincidentally has also been imprisoned in Parchment. Leonie has the best intentions of making this trip a fine, family event but things are doomed from the start. The kids don't want to go, they want to stay with their Mam and Pop. Leonie doesn't seem to be able to love her children with any kind of consistency. Once on the road, everything goes wrong: a side trip to buy and sell drugs, Kayla, the young 3-year-old daughter, gets sick and keeps throwing up; no provisions of food and water are offered to the children until much too late, and Leonie and Misty spend the night getting high. Leonie wants to be a good mom, but can't pull it off for long because she is jealous of the relationhship her children have with each other,
“But another part of me wants to shake Jojo and Michaela awake, to lean down and yell so they startle and sit up so I don't have to see the way they turn to each other like plants following the sun across the sky. They are each other's light.”
If that isn't bad enough, once they get to the penitentiary to pick up their boyfriend/father, the ghost of Richie enters the car, wanting to share the story of how he dies. Jojo and Kayla can both see and hear him. The trip home to the farm is just as harrowing as the first leg.

Once they finally get home, the traumas do not end. Death is around the corner and the whole house and yard seems to be filled with ghosts: Given, who died in an "accident"; Richie; and so many others that Jojo thinks a tree is filled with them. One thing all these ghosts have in common---they are died tortuous deaths. Ghosts of the tortures of past in African American families---lynchings, unjustified deaths, all heart-breaking circumstances.

Last week I was watching a news program which highlighted a new museum, The National Museum of Peace and Justice "dedicated to the legacy of enslaved black people, people terrorized by lynching, African Americans humiliated by racial segregation and Jim Crow, and people of color burdened with contemporary presumptions of guilt and police violence." Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercy, explained to the host that our history of lynching and our inability to disavow our past and seek reconciliation is keeping our country stuck in our racist attitudes. Learning about the lynchings, the horrors of these deaths, naming the people who died, can help us start healing. 

Writing for the Washington Post, Ron Charles said, "In Sing, Unburied, Sing Ward employs several strangely tethered narrators and allows herself to reach back in time while keeping this family chained to the rusty stake of American racism." The family may be living today, but they are still haunted by the ghosts of the past and carry them around with them wherever they go.

This book just about broke my heart but I think it is so important that we all raise our awareness about the injustices that just keep coming. And as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, "A time comes when silence is betrayal." We can no longer stay silent. I hope this book moves all of its readers to speak out against injustices everywhere, especially toward those people still chained to the past.

Now we wait to see if I am correct. Will Sing, Unburied, Sing win the Pulitzer Prize tomorrow? I hope so.


1:30 PM, PDT


I was wrong. I admit it. The winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction is Less by Andrew Greer. I have placed a hold for the audiobook at the library. I am looking forward to reading it since it sounds like a romantic comedy and I have only been reading really serious stuff lately. Here is a quick synopsis of the book:

A breakout romantic comedy by the bestselling author of five critically acclaimed novels
Who says you can't run away from your problems?
You are a failed novelist about to turn fifty. A wedding invitation arrives in the mail: your boyfriend of the past nine years is engaged to someone else. You can't say yes—it would be too awkward—and you can't say no—it would look like defeat. On your desk are a series of invitations to half-baked literary events around the world.
QUESTION: How do you arrange to skip town?

ANSWER: You accept them all.



Friday, April 13, 2018

Friday Quotes and Review: The Girl Who Drew Butterflies: How Maria Merian's Art Changed Science

Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Rose City ReaderShare the opening quote from the book.
Th
e Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's VoiceFind a quote from page 56.

Check out the links for the rules and for the posts of the participants each week. Participants don't select their favorite, coolest, or most intellectual books, they just use the one they are currently reading. This is the book I'm reading right now---


Title: The Girl Who Drew Butterflies: How Maria Merian's Art Changed Science by Joyce Sidman

Book Beginning: Each chapter begins with a short poem and a photo showing the stages of insect development---egg to egg and every stage in between.

Friday 56: The book is full of examples of the illustrations/art by Maria Merian. She always included insects in her drawings. This is an example of her pen and ink work. She would personally colorize these drawings in her special editions of books.


Comments and review: When I was young I wanted to be an artist. I especially loved working with pen and ink, so when I saw the drawings by Maria Merian I was especially enraptured by the art. But I think that Maria is probably best known for her work identifying the stages of insect development. She was a keen observer and would actually collect eggs and caterpillars and note what happened next. Unbelievably, in the late 1600s, when she lived, people thought that insects just emerged fully formed from corpses or the like. They also thought that people who spent time poking around in things that people didn't understand were suspect. Maria Merian had to be careful to not be labeled as a witch. Fortunately she was raised in a publishing family and both her father and step-father taught her how to draw and create the lovely flower paintings, otherwise her femaleness would have been a barrier to her talents. When Maria was in her forties, she traveled to Suriname in South America with one of her daughters. There she discovered many insects and animals that Europeans had never seen before. She brought home many samples and people were amazed. As soon as she could, though her health was not good, she set about creating a book with her diagrams showing what she discovered during her time in Suriname. This work still stands as a treasure, though she made some mistakes, many of her discoveries led to later work by other scientists and memorialized creatures which have become extinct.
"Fortunately, today's scientists, historians, and art collectors have rediscovered and acknowledged her work for what it is: amazingly beautiful, accurate portrayals of insect metamorphoses and ecosystems. her words and artwork told fascinating, intertwined stories to a public still highly suspicious of insects...The word ecology was not invented until more than fifty years after her death, but once again, Maria was ahead of her time. Many have called her the world's first ecologist" (119-120).
I loved this book. It was written by an artist, not a writer. That fact makes me smile. I love it that it was a woman who helped the world see the beauty and importance of insects. All those old, classically trained men couldn't figure it out, but Maria, with keen skills at observation figured out what should have been obvious. And her art. It is so lovely.

This YouTube video includes LOTS of samples of her paintings and illustrations and it set to Handel's music. (Handel and Merian were alive at the same time.) Even if you don't want to watch all 11 minutes of it, at least click to start the video so you can see more examples of her art. Lovely.




The book is written for a younger audience,  lets say for middle school students. I always wonder what kids would read books like this, though. But maybe there is some science or artsy student who wants to read an inspiring story of combining art and scientific observation. The book includes a table of contents, lots of examples of Maria Merian's work, a timeline of her life, quotes sources, a thorough bibliography, image credits and a short index. All of these make this book a very very credible resource for research or school projects. I recommend it highly to everyone, not just young teens.


Tuesday, April 10, 2018

TTT: Books I Won't Reread Because the Magic Might Fade

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Won't Reread Because the Magic Might Fade
I rarely reread books anyway but these books all hold a magical spot in my head and I am afraid that a reread would render them magic-less.


1. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
I loved this book and the whole experience of it. At 771 pages, it is an unlikely reread anyway.

2. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
This book is almost mythical in my memory. Not sure if I would want to dispel it.

3. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
The writing is beautiful and lyrical, even if the topic is depraved. I will let this one live in my mind in a happy place by not rereading it.

4. Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns
I love, love, love this book...or at least I think I do. What if I reread it and didn't love it anymore?

5. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Actually I did reread this book and it shattered my happy, childish memory of it. Proving my point about rereads!

6. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
I love the author and his writing but this book is too disturbing to reread.




Sunday, April 8, 2018

Sunday Salon, April 8

Glass art by Dale Chihuly at the Tacoma Art Museum
Weather: Rainy, with a bit of extra wind. We seem to have developed two "ponds" and a "creek" in our backyard overnight to accommodate the extra water.

Easter: Last Sunday we celebrated the resurrection of Christ in a festive worship service at church then enjoyed a brunch with family at our home afterwards: a cousin's daughter, a niece and her husband, our daughter, grandson, and son-in-law joined us for the day. We feel so blessed.

Today is called Low Sunday: Last year I attended my parent's church the week after Easter when the pastor explained why the service was filled with comics and jokes. It was a fun, new church experience for me. So today, remembering last year, I did a bit of research to find out why it is called Low Sunday and discovered "from a poor translation of the Latin name, Dominica in deponendis." Of course this means nothing to me, so I will drop it.

My prayer for the day (week, month, year): "Lord, please break my heart for the things that break your heart."
Dr. Seuss Thing 1 &2. Guess this makes Ian Thing 3.

The week before Easter both of my sisters were here: We hosted a brunch on Sunday, then on Monday, Kathy, Grace (and her hubby), and I explored the funky part of Seattle near where Grace's daughter and son-in-law live. We crawled on the troll under the Aurora Bridge, visited the statue of Lenin and cold war era rocket, and went on a tour of Theo's chocolate factory. Fun!

Spring Break: This past week was Spring break for my daughter, a teacher, so I had a break from babysitting, though I did see my grandson several times. Don took the day off Wednesday so we spent the day doing something special. We started the day at the gym (Don on the machines, me in water aerobics); next we went to see the new exhibit at the Tacoma Art Museum on immigrant art; followed by lunch at The Red Hot, where I had a Hound Dog (hot dog with peanut butter!); and then on to a movie at our favorite indie theater and saw "The Death of Stalin", which was supposed to be a tragi-comedy but I didn't think it was very funny.

A week of reading and blogging: The weather hasn't been fine so I've spent a lot of time inside reading and attempting to catch up on my blog reviews. The problem, of course, is the more I read, the more reviews I needs to write.

Here is a list of the books I have finished the last two weeks (click on hyperlinks for reviews):
  • Ready Player One by Ernest Cline---a reread for me, I listened to the audiobook here in Washington State, while Carly was listening to it in New York. We compared notes afterwards. Now I am ready to see the movie.
  • Kindred by Octavia Butler---my Classics Club Spin book, this one involves time travel back to the early days of our country and to witness slavery up close and personal. I recommend it.
  • Chasing King's Killer: The Hunt for Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Killer by James Swanson---I really liked this YA book and the timing was perfect since this past week was the fiftieth anniversary of this assassination.
  • Facing Frederick: The Life of Frederick Douglass, a Monumental American Man by Tonya Bolden---I seem to be on a theme of reading books related to slavery and civil rights. In fact, I wrote a blog post about the theme called "Musings and books on slavery, civil rights, and the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr."
Books I am currently reading (Don't laugh, I know it is a lot):
Painting by Maria Merian
  • The Girl Who Drew Butterflies: How Maria Merian's Art Changed Science by Joyce Sidman---I am really enjoying this book about a phenomenal artist and scientist who lived in the 1600s. The book's target audience is upper elementary or middle schoolstudents, but I think all adults will love it, too. (Print, 34%)
  • Devotions: Selected Poems by Mary Oliver---I am delightedly making my way through this tome of a book by my favorite poet. No rush. If I read a few a day, I am doing good. (Print, 46%)
  • Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin's War on America and the Election of Donald Trump by Michael Isikoff and David Corn---more political and inflammatory information about the state of our government and world. Frightening and maddening. (Print, 12%)
  • Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan---set during WWII, Anna is a civilian diver for the US Navy. (Audio, 57%)
  • The King Years: Historic Moments in the Civil Rights Movement---essays by Taylor Branch, a civil rights historian. (Print, 20%)
  • The Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula LeGuin---I am just one chapter in on this classic fantasy novel, the first in a popular series. (E-book, 8%)
Lovely: Have a listen.