“When I got [my] library card, that was when my life began.”
― Rita Mae Brown
Raise your hand…Who remembers the card catalog?
I sure do. I used it when I was a kid, a young adult and as an adult. I filed cards in it and looked through it to help my customers find a book when I first was a librarian. And I mourned its loss when we went digital. Don’t get me wrong, a computerized card catalog was so much easier to maintain and much more efficient than the old card catalog but it was just bittersweet. The loss of those warm brown drawers with all the handwritten, typed or printed cards was sad. If your library was old enough your card catalog had all three. Sometimes the cards had little handwritten notes like “third floor storage” or “rare books room.” That is mostly what I miss, that hint of an actual librarian making sure you could find this book. So there’s your little trip down memory lane.
Anyway we were a small group in March, just seven. Two other members sent me their book reviews from points south, so we ended up with nine titles to recommend.
1. The Keeper of Bees by Gene Stratton-Porter (1925) 528 pages. A classic by an author usually overlooked. Stratton-Porter was an amateur naturalist, a wildlife photographer and a writer of novels. In this book, her last, a Master Bee Keeper and his bees restore a severely wounded World War I veteran, Jamie McFarlane, back to health.
2. The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah (2018) 435 pages. Ernt Allbright, a former POW, comes home from the Vietnam war a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes an impulsive decision: he will move his family north, to Alaska, where they will live off the grid in America’s last true frontier. His PTSD, an undiagnosed condition in 1974, takes a toll on him and his family.
3. Nine Dragons by Michael Connelly (2009) 374 pages. (Harry Bosch series #14) Harry Bosch is assigned a homicide call in South L.A. that takes him to Fortune Liquors, where the Chinese owner has been shot to death behind the counter in an apparent robbery. All signs point to the Hong Kong Triad. When Harry’s daughter disappears in Hong Kong, Harry must find out if the two incidents are connected.
4. The Enemy by Lee Child (2004) 464 pages (Jack Reacher series #8) Long before the events of the previous seven novels Reacher got involved in something while he was an MP Major and had to take a demotion as a ‘punishment’. This is the story of that one messy, tangled case that can shatter a career and put a man on a different path.
5. Last Time They Met by Anita Shreve (2001) 325 pages. This tells the story of intense love between Linda and Thomas who first meet as high school teenagers then as young adults and much later as adults just past their prime when both have established themselves in similar careers. A story of first loves and second chances.
6. Icy Sparks by Gwyn Hyman Rubio (1998) 320 pages. A tale of a young girl with Tourette’s Syndrome, growing up in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky during the 1950’s.
7. The Jane Austen Project by Kathleen Flynn (2017) 384 pages. Dr. Rachel Katzman and her colleague, actor Liam Finucane, are sent back in time to find an unpublished Austen novel and, hopefully, to diagnose the illness that led to Austen’s premature death. They must not affect any history in any way that will change the future. ( Good luck with that). A nice mix of Connie Willis’ The Doomsday Book ( time traveling historians) and The Sound of Thunder by Ray Bradbury ( a short story tackling The Butterfly Effect).
8. Prince of Risk by Christopher Reich (2013) 369 pages. Bobby Astor is a fearless New York hedge-fund gunslinger on the verge of making his biggest killing ever. But everything changes when his father, the venerable chief executive of the New York Stock Exchange, is murdered along with the head of the Federal Reserve in a brazen, inexplicable attack on the South Lawn of the White House. –Goodreads summary.
9. Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult (2016) 480 pages. Picoult likes to tackle hot-button issues and this book certainly fits the bill. About a year ago, the author read where a black female nurse in Flint, Michigan had been dismissed by a white supremacist patient over skin color. Picoult used that court case as the basis for this book.