Friday, January 29, 2010

U is for Undertow

I have been waiting for Sue Grafton's latest book, U is for Undertow, for two years.

When Ms. Grafton first began her Kinsey Milhone series (back in the early 1980s?) she wrote a book a year - or faster. Then she slowed down. Way down. Now I'm afraid I won't live to see "Z."

I've enjoyed seeing Kinsey's character mellow and mature a bit over the years. And I think the subject matter for each book has gotten more complex over the years, too. I still find it refreshing to read a book set in the '80's with no personal computers, no internet, no debit cards, no GPS, and (would that I were there again) no cell-phones.

This most recent book in the series deals with family relationships - both those of Kinsey and those of her client. Along with untangling the family mysteries, Kinsey tries to solve a decades-old kidnapping case involving a young child.

Of course, in the end she does solve the case (that's what makes Grafton's books so perfect for a weekend read - no ambiguous endings) and, having found another piece of the puzzle that is her personal history, is a little closer to being at peace with her extended family.


Talking about Detective Fiction

Steve gave me Talking about Detective Fiction by P.D. James for Christmas. It's a small book, but packed with information about a form of fiction at which Mrs. James excels.

She writes:

"So what exactly are we talking about when we use the words 'detective story,' and how does it differ from both the mainstream novel and crime fiction, and how did it all begin?...

"Although the detective story at its highest can also operate on the dangerous edge of things, it is differentiated both from mainstream fiction and from the generality of crime novels by a highly organised (sic) structure and recognised (sic) conventions. What we can expect is a central mysterious crime, usually murder; a closed circle of suspects, each with motive, means, and opportunity for the crime; a detective, either amateur or professional, who comes in like an avenging deity to solve it; and, by the end of the book, a solution which the reader should be able to arrive at by logical deduction from clues inserted in the novel with deceptive cunning but essential fairness."

According to Mrs. James, detective fiction began either in1794 with the publication of Caleb Williams by William Godwin, or in 1868, when Wilkie Collins's novel, The Moonstone, was published.

My favorite part of the book was the chapter on the Golden Age of British detective fiction - the period between World War I and World War II. I loved reading about writers with whom I was familiar (Josephine Tey, Margery Allingham, etc.), but I was very happy to discover other writers unfamiliar to me (Edmund Crispin and Cyril Hare).

She also covered American detective fiction, and her description and analysis of it made me realize why I don't enjoy the stories of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler much - I'm not a fan of the hard-boiled, hard-talking, hard-living detective.

Another great chapter is the one titled "Four Formidable Women." In this chapter the fiction of Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, Margery Allingham, and Ngaio Marsh - four of my favorites - are compared.

This book was a good analysis of detective fiction - and it contained a very nice list of authors whose books I'll try to find. (From my 2010 reading list.)

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I did not need another teapot...

... so I bought TWO at the antique store yesterday.

The yellow one caught my eye first:

Then I saw the turquoise one - and it was 20% off the original price!

They're much too large for me to use for my afternoon tea. I'll have to wait until I have company to share a pot of tea with me.

In the meantime, I'm enjoying the new colors.


Saturday, January 23, 2010

Island of the World

"Best book ever." Those were the words my friend's 18-year-old son said to me in reference to Michael O'Brien's novel, Island of the World.

Back in the summer I asked my friend what she was reading and as we were discussing books her son walked up and said, "You need to read Island of the World. Best book ever." I mentally filed away the title, and a few days later I thought to put it on my wish list at PaperBackSwap. Then I forgot about it. However, every once in a while those three words, "best book ever," would enter my mind and I'd wonder if I should just buy the book and see if it really was that good. My friend's son is an intelligent and discerning reader, and I trusted his judgement. On the other hand, those extremely high words of praise had to be hyperbole.

He was right.

A week ago I bought the book and began reading it. I could not put it down. I wanted to know how the novel ended, yet I did not want it to end. This is a book I will buy for my children and recommend to friends. I could not do justice to this book if I tried to write a summary, but I think the publisher (Ignatius Press) did a good job of capturing the essence of the story on the dust jacket, so here it is:

"Island of the World is the story of a child born into the turbulent world of the Balkans in 1933, and traces his life into the third millennium. The central character is Josip Lasta, the son of a school teacher in a remote village high in the mountains of the Croatian interior. As the novel begins, World War II is underway and the entire region of what became Yugoslavia is torn by conflicting factions: German and Italian occupying armies, and the rebel forces that resist them--the fascist Ustashe, Serb nationalist Chetniks, and Communist Partisans. As events gather momentum, hell breaks loose, and the young and the innocent are caught in the path of great evils; their only remaining strength is their religious faith and their families.

"For more than a century, the confused and highly inflammatory history of former Yugoslavia has been the subject of numerous books, many of them rife with revisionist history and propaganda. The peoples of the Balkans live on the border of three worlds: the Islamic, the orthodox Slavic East, and Catholic Europe, and as such they stand in the path of major world conflicts that are not only geo-political but fundamentally spiritual. This novel cuts a core question: how does a person retain his identity, indeed his humanity, in absolutely dehumanizing situations?

"In the life of the central character, the author demonstrates that to retain one's humanity can demand suffering and sacrifice, heroism, and even holiness. When he is twelve years old, his entire world is destroyed, and so begins a lifelong odyssey to find again the faith which the blows of evil have shattered. The plot takes the reader through Josip's youth, his young manhood, life under the Communist regime, hope and loss and unexpected blessings, the growth of his creative powers as a poet, and the ultimate test of his life. There are journeys that show him new worlds and numerous people who affect his life, who are in turn changed by him. Ultimately this novel is about the ways Divine Providence can bring forth good fruit from the lives of those who have suffered radical injustice. It is about the crucifixion of a soul--and about resurrection."

Best book ever.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A red suit?

Among the yarn bits and knitting needles Harriet gave me was a smallish bag with a couple of skeins of red Fleisher's yarn, red buttons, red thread, red Bucilla ribbon, and handwritten notes that are obviously Mrs. T's adjustments to a knitting pattern.

I hope Harriet has the suit or dress made from these - I'd love to see it!


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Pull skein

This is one of the old skeins of yarn that belonged to Mrs. T. She never used this one. I wish yarn manufacturers would be so helpful as Fleisher's was. I love this tag tied to the end of yarn that pulls out of the center.


Monday, January 18, 2010

In need of book recommendations

Our reading club meets at the library on Wednesday to discuss Willa Cather's novel, Death Comes for the Archbishop. Members have been asked to bring a list of titles that we might want to read in the coming months.

Any suggestions? FYI - only women are in the group - at least, for all the meetings I've been to. Also, I am the youngest - or almost the youngest - member there, and I'm 48. We've read a mix of new titles and older titles.

Any help would be most appreciated. We generally read books that are NOT brand-spanking-new, because of cost.

Some books read in the past:
Water for Elephants
The Book Thief
The Last Days of Dogtown
Skeletons at the Feast
The Kite Runner
A Thousand Splendid Suns
A Cure for Dreams
The Agony and the Ecstasy
Salvation on Sand Mountain
Waiting for Snow in Havana
The Power of One


In praise of PaperBackSwap

I've been a member of PaperBackSwap for almost three years. Joining PBS was one of the best decisions I've ever made, book-wise. In the past two years and 10 months I have received 589 books, and I've mailed out 565 books. In the last month I've received 31 books and mailed out 23.

Last week I received:

The Feast of Santa Fe: Cooking of the American Southwest by Huntley Dent
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
Characters and Their Landscapes by Ronald Blythe
Beyond Your Doorstep: A Handbook to the Country by Hal Borland
The Pleasures of Diaries: Four Centuries of Private Writing edited by Ronald Blythe
Scratch Beginnings: Me, $25, and the Search for the American Dream by Adam Shepard

The week before that I received a book that had been on my wish list since I joined PBS. I had searched for a copy of A Country Parson: James Woodforde's Diary 1758-1802 for 20 years or more - ever since I read several Miss Read novels in which the fictional teacher, Miss Read, mentions reading Woodforde's diary.

And over the months of November and December I used up all the credits I'd been "saving" and got between 40 and 50 books to give as Christmas gifts to my children.

I love PaperBackSwap!


Vintage yarn

Recently I learned that the former owner of our house was a knitter, and that when she died all the dresses and suits that she knit for herself went to my neighbor, Harriet. I mentioned to Harriet that someday I'd love to see the outfits Mrs. T made.

Last Monday Harriet came by my house and dropped off a large bag for me - it was full of knitting needles and odd bits of yarn that had belonged to Mrs. T. Harriet said she thought I should have it all, since I knit, too. It's been fun looking through the bag and sorting it all. I can use all the needles, and am thankful to have them.

The yarn is from years ago - I'm guessing the newest might be from the 1980's, although I seriously doubt it from looking at the labels. It's more likely to have been bought in the '40's, '50's, and 60's. Most of it is wool, although some is a blend of wool and silk. And after she used up most of a skein, Mrs. T wound up the rest into a very tight ball of yarn. Some are the size of a marble, others the size of an egg.


Friday, January 15, 2010

Gandhi and Churchill:The Epic Rivalry That Destroyed an Empire and Forged Our Age

Back in the summer a friend recommended that I read Arthur Herman's book, Gandhi and Churchill: The Epic Rivalry That Destroyed an Empire and Forged Our Age. It's a big book (722 pages crammed with history) and I took several months to read it. I think it was an ambitious endeavor for Mr. Herman to chronicle and explain the history of the end of Britain's rule over India through the lives of Gandhi and Churchill, but I must admit that he achieved his goal and wrote a fascinating biography of the two men in the process.

My copy is now dog-eared (I know, I should be ashamed) and scribbled in, and slips of paper mark many passages. Since finishing it, I've picked it up several times and scanned again certain paragraphs or chapters - it's that good.

I felt as though I already knew a good bit about Churchill from reading William Manchester's excellent biography of him, and as seen through the eyes of his wife, Clementine, when I read the biography of her that their youngest daughter wrote. Gandhi was new territory for me, and pairing him with Churchill was a brilliant tactic. Churchill was scientific, logical, and believed in the free market. Gandhi was religious, pacifistic, and believed socialism was what India needed. Churchill recognized the evil in other men, while Gandhi saw good in everyone (including Hitler).

Before reading this book, I did not know that much of Gandhi's religious beliefs and pacifistic ideas were influenced and even shaped by a New Age group in London with which he associated while studying law in London as a young man. According to Herman, it was Helena Blavatsky, leader of the Theosophical Society, "who, more than any other single person, changed his view of India and its place in the world's future." I did not know that Gandhi's prison stays were almost like a vacation for him, and that he rather enjoyed being incarcerated and read many books while locked up.

"During his two years at Yeravda he read an estimated 150 books. They included Kipling's Barrack Room Ballads and Second Jungle Book; Macaulay's Lays of Ancient Rome and Goethe's Faust; Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Ivanhoe; Buckle's History of Civilization and that Churchillian favorite, Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, which Gandhi hugely enjoyed."

After finishing this book, I wanted to know more about India, so I bought India after Gandhi: The History of the World's Largest Democracy.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Knitting socks with Penny

Even though we're states apart, Penny and I are going to do a sock knit-along together again. Penny suggested we do a modified version of the Sock KAL that the Yarn Harlot came up with. In Penny's version we only knit 6 pairs of socks in a year. That's one sock per month. And the way to play is to select 6 skeins of sock yarn from one's stash (see above picture of my chosen sock yarns) and six sock patterns to pair with the yarn. Place skeins of yarn in a pillow case and grab - without looking - a skein to knit every other month.

I selected yarn and patterns, then had Joan pull from the bag. She pulled out the ivory Trekking sock yarn and I'm making the Gansey Socks from KnitPicks.

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Saturday, January 09, 2010

It's cold...

...and I've lost my camera. I think I left it at my parents' house Christmas night, because that's the last time I used it. But Mom hasn't seen it. I hate losing my camera. It's five years old and I was just beginning to get used to it.


Where, oh where has my flatware gone?

After 27 years of marriage we are down to 5 teaspoons, 12 soup spoons, 6 salad forks, 13 forks, and 15 knives - and that's combining three different sets of flatware. How has this happened? Where did the utensils go? And why have most of them disappeared in the past 11 months - right after the 30-year-old moved back in with us? I don't think he is responsible for their disappearance, but it is an odd coincidence.

Right after Christmas, after fruitlessly hunting through three drawers and the dishwasher for a fork, Steve said to me, "We have to do something about this silverware situation."

I saw that Oneida is having a good sale - up to 75% off some flatware sets - so I ordered two sets of Bristol. That will be 24 place settings. Maybe we can make them last another 27 years... .


Friday, January 08, 2010

The American Senator

Anthony Trollope's book, The American Senator was my final selection for my 2009 reading list. It was probably my favorite novel read this year.

The title is a bit misleading. It refers to one of the characters, but not the main character. However, through the eyes of this visiting American senator Trollope is able to gently ridicule some British habits and customs of his day. I think the title was appropriate - the senator's wonder and astonishment provide a good bit of the comedy in the story.

The main story is of a woman, Arabella, looking for a suitable husband. She is ruthless in her quest, yet the reader is also made to feel sorry for her. At the same time, another young woman is trying to avoid marriage to a nice man, suitable for marriage, but not suitable for her.

Trollope deftly weaves the stories together, keeps the reader engaged and amused, and ties it all up neatly in the end.

I love Trollope.

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The Chilling Stars: A New Theory of Climate Change

On my 2009 reading list I accidentally posted the 2nd edition of this book as the one I was to read. My copy of this book by Danish scientist Henrik Svensmark and British science writer Nigel Calder is the first edition, The Chilling Stars: A New Theory of Climate Change.

This was the best non-fiction book I read last year. It's interesting and understandable for the non-scientific lay-person (and it has pictures and graphs!).

From the back cover:

"A deftly written and enjoyable read, The Chilling Stars outlines a brilliant, daring and undoubtedly controversial new theory that will provoke fresh thinking about global warming.

As prize-winning science writer Nigel Calder and climate physicist Henrik Svensmark explain, an interplay of the clouds, the Sun and cosmic rays -- sub-atomic particles from exploded stars -- seems to have more effect on the climate than man-made carbon dioxide.

This conclusion stems from Svensmark's research at the Danish National Space Center which has recently shown that cosmic rays play an unsuspected role in making our everyday clouds. And during the last 100 years cosmic rays became scarcer because unusually vigorous action by the Sun batted many of them away. Fewer cosmic rays meant fewer clouds and a warmer world.

The theory, simply put here but explained in fascinating detail in the book, emerges at a time of intense public and political debate about climate change. Motivated only by their concern that science must be trustworthy, Svensmark and Calder invite their readers to put aside their preconceptions about man-made global warming and look afresh at the role of Nature in this hottest of world issues."

I read this book the first week in December, then saw this article in The Telegraph while the Copenhagen climate summit was going on. It made me even happier that I'd decided to read The Chilling Stars.

Did I mention that this was my favorite non-fiction book this year? I'm recommending it to everyone as a must-read.

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A Splendor of Letters: The Permanence of Books in an Impermanent World

In A Splendor of Letters, Nicholas Basbanes completes the trilogy he began with A Gentle Madness: Bibliophiles, Bibliomanes, and the Eternal Passion for Books, and continued in Patience & Fortitude: A Roving Chronicle of Book People, Book Places, and Book Culture.

This book emphasizes books and libraries - their history and their destruction. He also writes of the history and how of electronic books. It would be nice to find out what he thinks of the current e-books, as his information on them is a bit dated (2003).

I was very interested in an e-book idea he learned about from Joseph M. Jacobson, an MIT professor.

"Unlike other reading machines that have flooded the market to decidedly mixed reviews, Jacobson's e-book will have the look, heft, and feel of an authentic codex. Unlike the others, which display their text on a single solid surface, Jacobson intends that his device will have a series of paper-like 'substrates' bound inside actual covers, creating what in essence are gatherings of resilient computer screens that have the appearance of conventional pages."

Maybe I could be persuaded to try an e-book like that.

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First to Fight: An Inside View of the U.S. Marine Corps

First to Fight: An Inside View of the U.S. Marine Corps by Victor H. Krulak was on my 2009 reading list.

It's a brief, very readable history of the USMC, with more emphasis on the struggles the Marine Corps has faced to survive as a separate military entity than on the early years. Krulak gives an insider's view of the various attempts by the other branches of service to absorb or eradicate the Marines, but his writing isn't whiny or full of fault-finding.

Made me proud of my Marines.

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1700 by Maureen Waller was on my 2009 reading list. I read it, but I did not like it. It was nothing like London 1945.

Nasty, brutish, and short. That about sums up life in London in 1700. Immorality and excesses of every kind imaginable contributed to disease and crime. At the end of the book I was amazed to think that anyone survived such a cesspool long enough to father successive generations. It was a very depressing book.

If you want to read a book by Maureen Waller, skip this one and read London 1945 instead.

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Losing Mum and Pup

After reading several reviews praising Christopher Buckley's book, Losing Mum and Pup I picked it up from the library. It was a short and savory book - a nice account of the year in which he lost both of his parents. Along the way Buckley penned a few anecdotes about each, and the stories he wrote were not sensational, but offered a glimpse of what it was like to be the son of two very strong and famous personalities.

In the first few pages he wrote:
"To the extent this story has a larger-than-personal dimension, it is an account of becoming an orphan. I realize that "orphan" sounds like an overdramatic term for becoming parentless at age fifty-five; but I was struck by the number of times the word occurred in the eight hundred condolence letters I received after my father died."
I think that struck a nerve with me, because when my grandmother died a few years ago (at the age of 97) I thought. "Now my mother, aunt, and uncle are orphans." Mother was 67 at the time. But to be bereft of one's parents at any age has to hurt, and Buckley captures his own experience well.

This had to be my favorite part of the book, however. Buckley relates how, after he received the news that his mother was fading fast and didn't have much time left, he raced over to the hospital to see her and what he did:

"I'd brought with me a pocket copy of the Book of Ecclesiastes. The line in Moby-Dick had lodged long ago in my mind: 'The truest of all men was the Man of Sorrows, and the truest of all books is Solomon's, and Ecclesiastes is the fine hammered steel of woe.' I'd grabbed it off my bookshelf on the way to Virginia, figuring that a little fine-hammered steel would probably be a good thing to have on this trip. I'm agnostic now, but I haven't quite reached the point of reading aloud from Richard Dawkins's The God Delusion at the deathbed of a loved one."

That made me laugh!


An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination

Elizabeth McCracken's memoir, An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination was on my 2009 reading list. I read it back in the summer and enjoyed it.

Yes, it's a sad book. The writer met a man, married him, lived happily, got pregnant - and the baby was stillborn. That's sad. But her thoughts and actions made sense, and she wrote well. Thankfully, it is not a long book. Otherwise it might be too hard to read.

I was glad to find out that she's since had two more children, and they are alive and well.

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A knitting project for the not-so-distant future

This year I'll be knitting a large shawl for my mother. Thanks to Harrisville Designs it won't be very expensive, either. Mom wanted a shawl to wear to her Red Hat Ladies meetings. She chose the color and the pattern.

First I ordered the Resource Guide so Mom could see the true color of the yarn and be certain it was what she wanted. It was worth every penny and I encouraged her to take her time deciding and to look at the yarn with indoor and natural outdoor light, too. She settled on Blackberry and the Fir Cone Square Shawl from Cheryl Oberle's book, Folk Shawls.

I don't know when I'll start it, as I don't want it to be a stop and start project, but I think it will be fun!

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Thursday, January 07, 2010

Birthday cupcakes

For Marley's birthday Joan made cupcakes. She decorated each one differently, but all were yummy!


Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Sarah's aqua socks

Back in November I made a pair of aqua socks for Sarah. The yarn is from Opal, and the foot model is Marley.

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Friday, January 01, 2010

...and in with the new

Reading List for 2010

Here are my dozen must-reads for the year. I know I'll read more than 12 books this year, but limiting myself to only one per month as a book I have to read gives me a lot of latitude to read other books I hear of and see recommended by others, or those I happen upon serendipitously, while still giving me an illusion of discipline in my reading habits.

I like this quote from Samuel Johnson:

"A man ought to read just as his inclination leads him; for what he reads as a task will do him little good."

So here is my task-reading:

1. I received P.D. James's latest book, Talking about Detective Fiction for Christmas. Looks like it will be interesting, though I'm hoping she'll soon write another mystery featuring Adam Dalgliesh.

2. Steve and I decided to give all the older children books by Ayn Rand for Christmas. Each child, from Tom to David, received his or her own copies of Atlas Shrugged, The Fountainhead, Anthem, and We the Living. As I was wrapping the books, I realized I had never read We the Living, so I plan to read it this year.

3. The library discarded some books by Elizabeth Goudge, so I scooped up an armload and brought them home. Two I'd read as a child. Four I'd read in the past decade. One I have not read: Towers in the Mist.

4. In This House of Brede by Rumer Godden is another library discard. I have a paperback copy I've been meaning to read, but this hardcover edition will be easier to read while knitting!

5. Marvin Olasky recommended Michael Jones's book, Leningrad: State of Siege and I got a copy through PaperBackSwap last year. I think it will pair nicely with We the Living.

6. Last year Steve and I spent a few days at a resort patterned after Addison Mizner's style of architecture. Since then I've wanted to learn more about him and his influence on the architecture of southern Florida. I found this book, The Legendary Mizners, by Alva Johnston, and I think it will satisfy my curiosity.

7. Touted as what one reads after finishing all of Jane Austen's works, The Semi-Attached Couple by Emily Eden looks interesting, and was written around the same time as Anthony Trollope's novels. Trollope's books always make great reading, and I'm hoping to be pleased with this book, too.

8. I've read and re-read all of Barbara Pym's novels, and Elizabeth Taylor has been favorably compared to Pym. I think she's worth trying, so I'll be reading In a Summer Season.

9. Somewhere I read that Georgette Heyer was not as nice as her heroines. I bought Jane Aiken Hodge's biography of Heyer, The Private World of Georgette Heyer, several years ago, but have been too timid to read it - and have my illusions dashed to pieces. This year I'm reading it and living with the consequences.

10. I know very little about physics, but I read that Richard Feynman made physics accessible for the layman. If "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!" is any good, you can bet my children will be reading it as part of their curriculum in the future.

11. I love novels by Anthony Trollope, but The West Indies and The Spanish Main will be the first travelogue/non-fiction book by him that I will read.

12. One of my English professors at Auburn University was educated at Vanderbilt and was greatly influenced by Allen Tate, John Crowe Ransom, and Donald Davidson. Because of Dr. Allen, I can't pass up anything by any of the Southern Agrarians, so when the library put this book in the discard pile I got it and will read it this year. My copy is titled Attack on Leviathan: Regionalism and Nationalism in the United States.

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Out with the old...

Here's the list of books I read in 2009:

Dewey:The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World - Vicki Myron
Murder in Miniature - Margaret Grace
A Cure for Dreams - Kaye Gibbons
Nathan Coulter - Wendell Berry
What's So Great about Christianity? - Dinesh D'Sousa
Fidelity - Wendell Berry
Death by Cashmere - Sally Goldbaum
The Castle in the Attic - Elizabeth Winthrop
Thai Die - Monica Ferris
Bath Tangle - Georgette Heyer
Andy Catlett: Early Travels - Wendell Berry

Enquiry - Dick Francis
The Memory of Old Jack - Wendell Berry
Out of the Salt Shaker and into the World - Rebecca Manley Pippert
Emil and the Detectives - Erich Kastner
You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence, but You Can't Make Him Think - Ray Comfort
An Irish Country Doctor - Patrick Taylor
A World Lost - Wendell Berry

The Reason for God - Timothy Keller
Espresso Tales - Alexander McCall Smith
Love Over Scotland - Alexander McCall Smith
The Wild Birds - Wendell Berry
The World According to Bertie - Alexander McCall Smith
The Antioch Effect - Ken Hemphill
Remembering - Wendell Berry
That Distant Land - Wendell Berry
Paths of Glory - Jeffrey Archer

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle - David Wroblewski
Death of a Witch - M.C. Beaton
Real Education - Charles Murray
The Beach Street Knitting and Yarn Society - Gil MacNeil
Teatime for the Traditionally Built - Alexander McCall Smith

Infidel - Ayaan Hirsi Ali
The Mighty Queens of Freeville - Amy Dickinson
Natural Elements - Richard Mason
Waiting for the Weekend - Witold Rybczynski
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet - Jamie Ford
The Servants' Quarters - Lynn Freed
These Old Shades - Georgette Heyer
My Spy: Memoir of a CIA Wife - Bina Cady Kiyonaga
The Forgotten Garden - Kate Morton

Because the Time is Near - John MacArthur
Dropped Dead Stitch - Maggie Sefton
Knit Two - Kate Jacobs
The Lost Quilter - Jennifer Chiaverini
Cutting for Stone - Abraham Verghese
The Angel's Game - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Village School - Miss Read
Village Diary - Miss Read
Storm in the Village - Miss Read
Miss Clare Remembers - Miss Read
The Enemy Within - Kris Lundgaard

Ripping Things to Do - Jane Brocket
Home Safe - Elizabeth Berg
Fishing for Gold - Karni Perez
Over the Gate - Miss Read
Village Christmas - Miss Read
The Fairacre Festival - Miss Read
Cherry Cake and Ginger Beer - Jane Brocket
The White Robin - Miss Read

Editions and Impressions - Nicholas Basbanes
Three Cheers, Secret Seven - Enid Blyton
Patterns in the Sand - Sally Goldenbaum
The Wednesday Wars - Gary D. Schmidt
Tyler's Row - Miss Read
Uncle Sam's Plantation - Star Parker
Losing Mum and Pup - Christopher Buckley
An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination - Elizabeth McCracken

There Goes the Bride - M.C. Beaton
Fatally Flaky - Diane Mott Davidson
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie - Alan Bradley
Quench the Lamp - Alice Taylor
Gandhi and Churchill: The Epic Rivalry That Destroyed an Empire and Forged Our Age - Arthur Herman
The Clockwork Twin - Walter Brooks
My Friends, the Miss Boyds - Jane Duncan

We Two: Victoria and Albert: Rulers, Partners, Rivals - Gillian Gill
Captains Courageous - Rudyard Kipling
1700 - Maureen Waller
Rereadings - Anne Fadiman, editor
End the Fed - Ron Paul
The Lost Art of Gratitude - Alexander McCall Smith

Dead Men Don't Crochet - Betty Hechtman
The American Senator - Anthony Trollope
The Chilling Stars - Nigel Calder and Henrik Svensmark
First to Fight - Victor Krulak
Even Money - Dick Francis and Felix Francis
SuperFreakonomics - Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner
La's Orchestra Saves the World - Alexander McCall Smith
A Rumpole Christmas - John Mortimer
The Pioneer Woman Cooks - Ree Drummond
In the President's Secret Service - Ronald Kessler
Family Album - Penelope Lively
The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
100 Cupboards - N.D. Wilson
A Splendor of Letters - Nicholas Basbanes

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Happy New Year!