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June 30, 2005

My Summer Reading List

I have been trying to read Simon Schama’s book “Landscape and Memory” since the beginning of the year. I have checked out the book and renewed it so many times that it could practically drive home by itself.

A few weeks ago I finally gave up. I really do want to read it and I have every intention of doing so – just after summer.

I have officially switched over to summer fun reading. My shelf of books from the library are filled with goofy titles such as “Funny in Farsi”, “Confessions of a Shopaholic”, “True Brits”, “Cooking for Mr. Latte”, “Wacky Chicks”, and “Confessions of a Window Dresser.”

In other words, light, silly and just what I need to veg out. There are other books on the shelf including travel lit (always good for a summer with no major travel plans), books on writing and the requisite gardening tomes, even a biography or two.

But the books I’m really excited about are all the “next installments” in the mystery series I read. I’m on the waiting list for all of the below. In italics is the main character.

Elizabeth Peters – The Serpent in the Crow (Amelia Peabody) [have it in hand]
Nevada Barr – Hard Truth (Anna Pigeon) [ditto]
Jasper Fforde – The Big Over Easy (Thursday Next) [62 of 69]
Laurie R. King – The Locked Room (Mary Russell) [129 of 137]
Lee Child – One Shot (Jack Reacher) [193 of 230]
P.J. Tracey – Monkeywrench Gang [177 of 563]

I’ve been hooked on serial mystery novels since second grade when I cracked open my first Nancy Drew, “The Clue of the Black Keys.” From there I moved on to the Bobbsey Twins, the Happy Hollisters (I am still kicking myself for not grabbing a free complete set at a thrift store in Butte, Montana, in the late 1980s), the Secret Seven and Trixie Belden - and like Trixie, I was also secretly in love with Jim Frayne.

Later favorites have included Tony Hillerman’s Joe Leaphorn/Jim Chee series and Ellis Peters’ Brother Cadfael set. I also enjoyed Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Milhone and Patricia Cornwall’s Kay Scarpetta, but they got to be too cloying or annoying, and I dropped them.

I think it’s important to support local authors as well. I used to read John Sandford but since I’ve had a child, his books are too gruesome for me. I love P.J. Tracy’s “Monkeewrench,” etc., and Erin Hart’s “Haunted Ground” and “Lake of Sorrows.”

So for now “The Lexus and the Olive Tree” and other more serious fare are just going to have to be returned to the library until the snow flies again. It’s summer, and I need chocolates for the brain!

Sweetness and Light or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bees

The only nonfiction book I’ve stuck with lately is “Sweetness and Light” by Hattie Ellis. This book is all about bees - their history, culture, cultivation, etc.

I wanted to read this book in order to learn how to attract more bees to my gardens. I’m concerned about the decrease in pollinators that has been occurring due to overuse of chemicals. While I know it wouldn’t be realistic to have a bee hive in the backyard, I’d like at least to have an ornamental skep, if only for show.

With all the flowers and plants in our backyard, you can imagine that it’s a magnet for all critters winged or crawly. And our son Graham is afraid of them all. He will screech if he sees a bee, ant or any other sort of flying thing. Box elder bugs, in particular, put him over the edge.

Graham - June 2005 014.jpg

The other night he wanted me to carry him the 20 feet from the sliding glass door to the willow furniture under the pergola, so he wouldn’t have to step over any ants. He doesn’t like to be out in the yard or garden much because of his fears, which can really limit our outside family time.

For all that we’ve tried reasoning with him (They’re more afraid of you than you are of them), flattery (But you’re so big and they’re so small!) and bribery (Just stay out by the fire a little longer and you can have another marshmallow), nothing seems to change his mind.

Then last night, in one of his Power Rangers/Transformer moments, he decided that he could transform into both a spider and a scorpion at the same time (See? This half of my body is a spider and this other half is a scorpion.) and that I could transform into both a bee and a butterfly. (I got to choose my animals.) We talked about the powers and abilities that each of these animals has and how they weren’t scary at all, but really cool.

So maybe, just maybe, through the amazing healing powers of the Power Rangers, we can bring Graham around to the joys and wonders of bugs. And he can spend more time outside chasing his best friend, Pont.

Graham - June 2005 091.jpg

Posted by maasx003 at June 30, 2005 9:50 PM | Books | Family


Graham is getting so big--he's adorable.

I just read the new Anna Pigeon book, and it wasn't as good as the rest. It kind of veers into Patricia Cornwell too-grossness. Landscape and Memory is really good, but soooo dense. I read it a while ago, and enjoyed it. Happy reading!

Posted by: Nancy at July 1, 2005 8:26 AM