Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Unique Book Titles


This week’s topic: Top Ten Unique Book Titles.


1. A Short History of Tractors in Ukranian by Marina Lewycka. This book is a fun account of an older man falling for a much younger immigrant woman who is searching for wealth in Britain. It is hilarious in places and funny throughout.

2. Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl For some reason I did not review it either here or on Goodreads,  but gave it 4 stars in my reading log.

3. In the Sea There Are Crocodiles by Fabio Geda. Here’s my review from my old blog:

In the Sea There are Crocodiles by Fabio Geda I didn’t know what to think of this, but ended up marveling at this boy’s survival instinct. Makes me cringe when I think of the silly stuff we American parents “worry” about happening to our kids–like bad grades, not being picked for the team or having to eat nutrition-free school lunches. This young man, even though this is a fictionalized account of his life, is a ROLE MODEL. And his mother DID know what she was doing–she gave him LIFE for ever, not for the short selfish term.

4. All Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg. Here’s my review from my old blog:

If you grew up in the late 60s and early 70s likely you remember Fannie Flagg trading wise cracks with Gene Rayburn, Brett Summers and Charles Nelson Riley on the The Match Game. Well, today, she’s the author of a great slew of novels. The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion tells the story of the SPARS–women who ferried planes to US Army Air Corps bases during World War II. It’s also the story of identity and what it means to be “me” and “us.” This little gem is interesting, fun and well worth your time in every way. And, please, somebody play me the “Aw Jeese, You Bet Polka.” The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg.

5. Sima’s Undergarments for Women by Ilana Stranger-Ross. Here’s my review from my old blog:

I’ve long been fascinated by all types of fundamentalism, regardless of the political or religious creed the espouse. Sima’s Undergarments for Women is set in a mostly Orthodox and Hassidic Jewish neighborhood in New York. As the title indicates, Sima sells lingerie–the real stuff that real women wear daily. She fits bras perfectly–altering them when necessary. [Yes, I learned a lot!] The story intermingles her struggle to have children with that of the young woman she takes under her wing as a sort of surrogate daughter. Her stale marriage, a friend’s glorious marriage, all get worked into the story. Sima’s Undergarments for Women by Ilana Stanger-Ross.

6. Gonzales and Daughter Trucking Company by Maria Amparo Escandon. Read my review.

7. Why Can’t Somebody Just Die Around Here? by Gerhard Marocher Read my review.

8. Dark Ferret Society and Rise of the Narcoleptic Turtles by Emily Humphreys. Read my review. YA Fans, check out this great series!

9.  Ginger, You’re Barmy by David Lodge. Read this one years ago in the Peace Corps.

10. Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal. Read my review.


If you’d like to play along and post your own Top Ten Tuesday list, join the link-up at The Broke and The Bookish each week. Here are the rules. You can read all of this week’s great lists here.


Top Ten Tuesday: Top 10 Yummy Foods Mentioned in Books



This week’s topic: Top Ten Yummy Foods Mentioned In Books. I’m taking this to mean books that aren’t foodie non-fiction.  And, I’m not even counting how many such “foods” I mention!

Two of my favorite book series for sheer food delight are Jan Karon’s Mitford and Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector Gamache series.  Probably because I am currently listening to the newest book, the food of Mitford is on my mind! And, there’s an actual published cookbook of all the great Mitford food.

The OMC–the Orange Marmalade Cake. This is the one that nearly kills Father Tim–it’s that sweet! But boy does it sound fabulous!   Puny’s Cornbread and her Macaroni and Cheese!n the newest books, Dooley’s Deep Dish Pizza, always makes me want someThose Vanilla Muffins from the cookbook–I copied the recipe years ago from the library’s copy of the cookbook. We LOVE them.  While the OMC, Puny’s Cornbread and, who could forget it? liver mush are about the most mentioned, food plays a big role in this series as people gather together or live out ordinary lives or drop something off to comfort a neighbor. And it is all great-sounding Southern American food although they’ve eased up on the deep frying.


Scrambled eggs with brie. I don’t even really enjoy scrambled eggs but I bet brie would help the flavor a lot! Duck, Brie, and Fig Confit Sandwich –my mouth waters every time this is mentioned! Parsnip and Apple Soup with a Drizzle of Walnut-Infused Oil YUM!!!  Admit it, they had you, too, at the “drizzle,” right? Then there’s the chocolate-covered blueberries from The Beautiful Mystery.… swoon. Heck, I’d even take a Tim Horton’s doughnut!

Although it does not offer ALL the recipes, The Nature of the Feast can be downloaded here to help you enjoy Gabri’s wonderful meals.


Just about anything in the City Baker’s Guide to Country Living–including even the crock of Boston Baked Beans served with Brown Bread “spackled’ with real butter!


That subscription required, one-off dinner. All of it. Everything! Kitchens of the Great Midwest.

Top Ten Tuesday is held weekly at The Broke and the Bookish. Here is the link to the rules. 

You can read all of this week’s lists here.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books With Autumnal Covers


This week’s topic: Ten Books With Fall/Autumn Covers/Themes (If the cover screams fall to you, or the books give off a feeling of being Fall-ish)



Poetry for Young People: Robert Frost The cover just says “Fall in New England,” right? Love his work.

Keeping a Nature Journal In the fall I love to be outside and see the changing colors, feel the crisp cool air and, above all, rake leaves. I’ve never had so many trees that it was a burden, though, so don’t call me insane for that! So many happy memories raking leaves with my late Keeshund beside me. I also have great memories of “drawing” hikes with my kids inspired by this book. We’d take sketch books and colored pencils and go to a park and hike. Finally we’d decide on a place to sit and draw. That their drawings were much better than mine was always a confidence booster for them–and I wasn’t faking my no talent!

Freckles A Hoosier (Indiana) classic, by early-20th Century best-selling author, Gene Stratton Porter, this book is one of her Limberlost tales.

Headmaster’s Wife Here is my review from my old blog:
 “‘Do you have children?….Now imagine if, just to spite you, they do the exact opposite with their lives from what you hope they will.‘” (p. 107). 

Usually a story told in  non-linear fashion gets annoying to me–not so this time. There IS a method to the madness and it is to tell a very griping story. This books was MESMERIZING. I had to ration it–it had that great a hold on me.  In the last part f#-! became his go-to word and it cheapened the book unnecessarily, even if it was meant to convey the changing times or something else . That’s a very minor detraction though, from what is truly a work of art. The author is a gifted storyteller. I hope to read many more books by him.[NOTE: without spoilers I will say there is an event that, when taken out of context, may upset some readers.] 

October Sky (aka Rocket Boys)  My son and I both enjoy this book–and the wonderful movie adaptation, in spite of a crucial change. in the movie

Cold Sassy Tree There is so much to “love’ in this book about when Miss Love Simpson comes to town! Look out Will Tweedy! The movie is equally delightful.

Mayflower Thanksgiving is pretty darned Autumnal and this book’s cover has the look of an eerie late Fall day.

At Home in Mitford

Mitford is one of my favorite fiction series. Father Tim, Cynthia, and all the rest of the town are marvelous. Plus there are two adoption stories in here to warm my adoptive-Mom’s heart.

A Separate Peace

This was my favorite assigned reading in high school. I loved it even more than the Rocking Hhorse Winner (D.H. Lawrence). I think it may be the reason some older parents named boys Phin/Finn in the 1990’s and early 2000’s (I imagine there’s something newer that explains the rest of the name’s popularity).

It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.

How could we have Fall or Halloween without this one? Not possible for those of us in it’s first generation of fans.

Visit the Broke and the Bookish for all of this week’s posts!

And now, enjoy a seasonal classic…..





Top Ten Tuesday: Throwback Freebie: 10 Books I Loved From the Early 20th Century


This week’s topic is: Throwback Freebie: Ten Books I Loved During The First Year I Started My Blog, Favorite Books Published 5 or 10 or 15 Years Ago, Ten Older Books I Forgot How Much I Loved, etc. etc. Tweak however you want!



1900    Alice of Old Vincennes by Maurice Thompson

1905    Diary from Dixie by Mary Chestnut

1906    The Jungle by Upton Sinclair

1908    Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery

1909 Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton Porter

1910    Twenty Years at Hull House by Jane Addams

1911    Peter Pan (And Wendy) by J.M.Barrie

1912  Yosemite by John Muir

1913  Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence

1916    Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher



You can read the complete list of my Books Read by Year from the 20th Century here.


Top Ten Tuesday is hosted weekly at the Broke and the Bookish. You can read all about it here. Check out all of this week’s great posts here.

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Books I Struggled With


Ten Books I Struggled to Get Into But Ended Up Loving or Ten Books That Were A Chore To Get Through or Ten Books I’ve Most Recently Put Down (the theme is…books you had a hard time with…tweak it how ever you need).

The Ones I Kept at and Ended up Glad I Did



Several times on Twitter I’ve read comments about giving up on Beartown. I gave it a little thought, but I’m very, very glad I stayed with it. Here’s the post on why I loved it.





I ended up liking this book in spite of a few difficult moments. You can read my full review here.






The Ones I Wished I’d Tossed Back, But Didn’t




I’m a fan of Lisa See’s, but this one….. My review.







No matter what the critics said, it just wasn’t for me. My review.







I so wish I’d listened to my inner-reader’s voice and tossed this back. I tried it in both print and audio and DID finish it. Here’s my review.

The Ones I Gave up on and Didn’t Look Back


I gave this one a SECOND chance! But SPOILER!! When a victim of incest has to make her own “organic” condom and justifies enduring the abuse to pay for her education…..AND that wasn’t even a NAZI atrocity (the book is about Nazi treatment of non-Jews the Third Reich didn’t want)…. I threw it back. I wanted to hurl it out the window and keep driving, but it was a library copy.  Who decides that stuff like this “adds” to a story?

I had a variety of reasons for throwing these three back. You can read my post on “why” here.




The adults whining got too much for me. I didn’t bother with a review. I’ll give her work another try though. It just wasn’t the right story for me at that moment.





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Top 10 Tuesday: 10 Hidden Gem Memoirs




Horse Boy: A Father’s Quest to Heal His Son by Rupert Isaacson. A father and horses help an autistic boy find his way.



Farm Girl by Karen Jones Gowen. What it was really like to grow up in the depression years on a farm in Willa Cather country.



Stop-Time by Frank Conroy. One of my first assigned books in college in the Fall of 1980. A harrowing childhood saved by writing and jazz.



Eleanor’s Story: An American Girl in Hitler’s Germany by Eleanor Ramrath Garner. A fascinating look at what happens when a German-American family returns to Germany during the depression for a job with much more promise.



The Perfect Gentleman: A Muslim Boy Meets the West by Imran Ahmad.  An hilarious and heartwarming story of a Muslim boy landing growing up in London and trying to fit in.



Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good by Kathleen Finn. The memoir of a Michigan family, food and life.



Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron. A sweet memoir of a cat who lived in an Iowa library.



A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea: The Journey of Doaa Al Zamel.  You can read my full review here. Dramatic tale of one young woman fleeing Syria.



See You in A Hundred Years: One Family’s Search for Simpler Life by Logan Ward. The tale of what happens when a very modern couple tries to live like it’s a hundred years ago. Really live like it. If you loved the PBS Show The 1900s House–this is the rural American version sans the reality tv cameras. A good read.



Memories of Ninety Years by H.R.H. the Duchess of Gloucester. When Lady Alice Montagu-Douglas-Scott married George V’s 3rd son, Prince Henry, she was the Lady Di of the moment. at 35 she was an older bride, but she’d lived a very interesting life–including winning an international photography contest. This is her 2nd memoir-the “pretty” one with all the photos, drawings and other memorabilia.

She is the only non-Princess to be allowed to use her name with “Princess.” The Queen allowed it after her Uncle Harry died so that Alice did not have to go through life as “Princess Henry, Dowager Duchess of Gloucester….” Her first son, the “other” Prince William was a very modern young man who, like Princess Diana,died tragically at a very young age. If you are guessing that the names William and Henry/Harry are familiar–well, Charles wanted his sons to, of course, have traditionally royal first names, but only those not then in use. William and Henry (Harry) were the top of the list.


Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Why not post your own list and join in the fun? Here is the information you need to participate.


Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Books for New Young Adults



Note: This post originally appeared on my old blog in March 2015 and was posted on this blog originally on January 15, 2016

If I could get my kids to read books I recommend, this would be the list for them….


I have two kids–both are now young adults–20-somethings. One is a reader of sorts, the other hates reading. Naturally. Of course, given that I’m a book nut and a librarian. I take it personally, though who knows why. If I could get them to read books I recommend, this would be my list of what they should read. No, the Bible isn’t on here–they’ve had it around all their lives and know to read it. No Anne Frank or Corrie Ten Boom–they’ve met them both in school or homeschool. Nope, no Roosevelts or Royals. Not a single Mountbatten, Churchill or any other Brit. No Federalist Papers or wisdom of the Founding Fathers–they should know enough on that to at least appreciate their freedom. No Gone With the Wind or other favorite sagas. No Number One Ladies Detective Agency or William Monk.  No Peace Corps memoirs or travel books. No, not even James Herriot and his wonderful friends and animals–they’ve known him thru his children’s books. Just the books that might get them thru life a little easier–they can find their own books to read just for pleasure.

This book so moved me that I’ve probably recommended it to more young people than any other book. Set in my hometown, it tells the story of racial hatred, racial identity and the power of the human spirit. I think it should be required reading in high schools everywhere. Life on the Color Line by Gregory Howard Williams.


Ok, one child has listened to this one with me. It really captured that child’s imagination. I wish my other child would listen to it, too. Written in the 1940s it is still “spot on” about how we are deceived about and distracted from what matters The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis.

Practical advice to the clueless before it’s too late is usually ignored. I wish they’d read it and APPLY it. Men are  From Mars… John Gray.

I’ve long encouraged my kids to go Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace course, but this book is equally important. Stuff can’t fill your heart, but debt can cripple you. This book clearly shows what matters–self respect and hard work. The Millionaire Next Door .

It takes most people half a life time to learn that constructive criticism isn’t about whether or not you are a good person. Nor do you have to be liked at work. You do, however, have to be respected and seen as a willing contributor to the team and for that to happen you must be emotionally mature enough to be part of a team. School has pretty much destroyed this in many, many kids. This is a tough one, but it matters. Working With Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Coleman.


“Life is banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death” may seem the opposite of the self-help books I’ve listed, but they really go hand-in-hand. People “stave to death” getting hung up on popularity, letting others make their life for them and trying to fill holes in their heart by spending money. Auntie Mame, one of the many great books my Mom shared with me, taught me to be my own person and that families are whoever loves us. Auntie Mame by Patrick Dennis. I’d also love it if they read his book The Joyous Season.

I had to debate including this one, but it does belong here. Traditions can be stifling or they can be part of the scaffold that holds us up. It’s a choice on how that goes for each of us. Same with family. Skipping Christmas by John Grisham.


Because every generation thinks they’ve invented sex, drugs and rock n’ roll, this reminds us in a fun way that there really is “nothing new under the sun.” Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner’s classic The 2000 Year Old Man.


Don’t like your life? Change it. Get up off the couch and do something different. Go to college, start a business, move to a new town or city–its YOUR life. It will only be what you make of it. She Got Up Off the Couch by Haven Kimmel.

I know–that’s only nine, but If they’d read these, I could sleep easier. But, likely they won’t–at least not until they’ve learned most of this the hard way. Before you have children no one can ever tell you how hard it is to watch your kids make choices–even good ones. You can see the outcome, but they must find it out for themselves. That can be brutal. It isn’t any easier though for them to see when you were right and they should have listened.

Now the tenth book:



This is the book of your life. Every day is a new, blank page, to write on it what you will. Fill every page with meaning, love, joy, sorrow, adventure, risk, success, failure. Don’t let life live you–make sure you live a life worth living. Do hard things. Do easy things. Love. Encourage. Stop the bad, help the good.


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