Library Column–March 30, 2006

People in Warren pay a bit for their library. Are you getting your money’s worth? If you check out more than two adult books a year or four children’s books a year, or read a few of our magazines, or ask the librarian a couple of questions, or use the computer a few times a year, or check out a few of our videos or DVDs, then the answer is yes. So, if you want to get your money’s worth out of the library—just use it occasionally and enjoy!

I haven’t had room in my column lately for everything I’ve read or listened to. That is why four of the titles reviewed below are audio books that got bumped from the last two columns. I listen while I commute from Montpelier and I also listen at home while I spin yarn on my spinning wheel. Unfortunately, when it comes to spinning, I do better with more frivolous books. A perfect example:

Eleven on Top by Janet Evanovich (audio CD). Excellent escapist entertainment for those who like that sort of thing. Also helped me produce 5 skeins of very soft brown wool yarn.

The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd (audio CD and 2 copies of the hardcover). A married woman in her 40s returns to the island of her childhood, in an attempt to rediscover her essential self. Thoughtful and probing.

The Hunt Ball by Rita Mae Brown (audio CD). A mystery centered in the fox-hunting culture of Virginia, but you’ll be happy to know that the foxes do not get killed, only the human beings.

4:50 From Paddington by Agatha Christie (audio cassette). I love listening to Agatha Christie, but I find her boring to read. Beats me. This one has a mysterious missing body, tangled family relationships, Miss Marple and a shrewd young lady assistant all mixed together in a masterpiece of misdirection.

Girl With a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier (audio cassette, also book). Richly imagined historical novel written from the point of view of the subject of the famous Vermeer painting. I enjoyed it in two ways—as a sensitive, tragic, novel and as a great description of everyday life in Delft in the 1660s.

The Jungle Law by Victoria Vinton. Kipling is living in Vermont, enjoying life with his new, expectant wife and working on The Jungle Book. Down the road is the Connolly family, Jack is a struggling farmer, his wife Addie is doing the Kiplings’ laundry, and their 11 year old son, Joe, is fascinated by the exotic new world opened to him by the clever, eccentric young author. A touching glimpse into a lost world of the past, expertly mixed fact and fiction by a new novelist.

My Life on a Plate by India Knight. Audio cassette. First person, discontented English "mom with two kids" (and a foul mouth) trying to figure out why her life lacks excitement. I found her pretty irritating, not my sort, but honesty is her redeeming quality and saves the book from disaster. Also, it is funny in spots.

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