Library Column–January 12, 2006

Bits and pieces: Please come to Benjamin Franklin’s 300th birthday party at Warren Public Library on January 18th at 3 p.m. That evening will be the first meeting of our new handcrafts group, so join us at 7 p.m. to share our handwork and friendly conversation. Upcoming at the library: Benjamin Franklin’s birthday party! The first of the Founding Fathers to turn 300, Benjamin Franklin was an extraordinary figure. Among other things, he established a lending library in Philadelphia. We’ll be gathering on January 18th at 3 p.m. to celebrate his life and achievements (and eat cake).I’ve been doing a lot of reading and listening:

Dead Man’s Mirror by Agatha Christie (audio cassette). One of several new acquisitions in our audio cassette collection, including more by Christie and three Brother Cadfael mysteries by Ellis Peters.

Her Majesty’s Spymaster: Elizabeth I, Sir Francis Walsingham, and the Birth of Modern Espionage by Stephen Budiansky. Personally, I love history books, and this one was great fun, filled with interesting characters, dramatic situations, undercover operations and the story of the sting that led to the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots. A good book for history buffs, espionage buffs or anyone who enjoys an exciting story.

Slow Man by J. M. Coetzee. Is this a book about a character, or is it a book about a novelist trying to write about a character? The story is simple: a 60 year old, unattached man, loses a leg in a bicycle accident. He ends up attached…sort of…but who has he connected with and why? One of those well-written, interesting tales that leave the reader puzzled and intrigued.

Live Well on Less Than You Think: The New York Times Guide to Achieving Your Financial Freedom by Fred Brock (paperback collection). The title says it all. Includes an excellent list of web-sites which will be added to the useful links page at our web-site.

The Watcher in the Pine by Rebecca Pawel. An excellent mystery, set in Franco’s Spain in 1940, with atmosphere, suspense and humor, plus a plot that works. I enjoyed it. It is the second in a series, but reads well on its own.

Generation Rx: How Prescription Drugs are Altering American Lives, Minds and Bodies by Greg Critser. A brief history of how the pharmaceutical industry became somewhat unregulated and also started advertising to consumers; including some of the peculiar consequences thereof. The last chapter includes a list of useful web-sites for anyone taking prescription drugs: I plan to add some of them to the Warren Public Library web page under Useful Links.

Saturday by Ian McEwan (audio CD). One very odd day in the life of a London neurosurgeon, exploring his thoughts, his marriage, his children, his work, and one chance encounter that could destroy it all.

The Master Butchers Singing Club by Louise Erdrich (audio cassette). A complex story about a small town in North Dakota, beginning in the 20’s and ending in the 50’s, with a number of unique characters and Ms. Erdrich’s rich prose.

Fiddlers by Ed McBain. His last book, and his last book about the 87th Precinct. Good job and good-bye. A quirky story about a very odd series of murders.

Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare by Stephen Greenblatt. We have this book on audio CD (Joslin Memorial has the "book" version) and I found it a most entertaining story, albeit occasionally gruesome. The author manages to track down many plausible experiences that Shakespeare probably had, out of the general events of the times, particular events in the Shakespeare family, and a good understanding of the workings of the Elizabethan and Jacobean theater worlds.

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