Category Archives: Books

Authors on the Bay – Charlie Adams

This month I’m introducing a new occasional series for the blog:

Authors on the Bay

Many of us have been fortunate over the years to receive e-mails from Charlie Adams, a teacher who is a long time summer resident of Long Island, from the various countries he’s taught at in the last few decades. So many times I would ask Charlie, “When is your book coming out?” Now, we’re finally able to read Charlie’s book, “My Amazing Twelve Year Adventure in Russia.” It makes for fascinating reading, between his wonderful stories and anecdotes, as well as personal information (in case you were wondering, as many of us do, “How Charlie met Helen”).
I was able to correspond with Charlie, who winters in Florida, and ask him a few questions for this blog.

1. Did you keep a journal or is your book based on memory?
The vast majority of the book is based on memory and a rather large collection of photographs.

2. What was the hardest part about writing your book and what was the easiest part?
a. The most difficult part was having to write about the break-up of my first family. It is something I did not want to do. I had no idea that Elaine was going to ask for a divorce.

b. The easiest part was writing about the travels with my sons, because they were such enjoyable experiences.

3. Your book is not exactly chronological – how did you decide to arrange your book?
The only thing I tried to do was to separate the Soviet times from the non-Soviet times. In many cases this was difficult to do. It was the dates that gave me the most trouble, as I wasn’t sure about them. Fortunately, my sons helped me with many of them. A friend who was editing for me said I really needed the dates, so I did the best that I could.

4. Did your sons inherit your sense of humor and love of travel? How do they view their time in Russia/Soviet Union?
My sons use to tease me about my sense of humor, saying things like, “that sounds like a Dad joke.” However, they both have healthy senses of humor. As you know, the three of us did a substantial amount of traveling during our time in Russia. However, family life seems to have kept them close to home. At the beginning, Moscow was the last place on earth that they wanted to be. However, they really enjoyed their life in Moscow and were sad when it was time to leave.

5. Briefly, what are your views of Russia today and how it’s changed for the better or worse since your days there?
In a way it was sad for me to witness the downfall of the Soviet Union. Part of this is selfishness on my part, because I had been living the life of a wealthy person up until then. The saddest part, however, was that the elderly were no longer taken care of, and life became much more difficult for them, including having pension checks delayed for months. That was true for teachers as well. Today, I see a leader who is trying desperately to reinstate Russia as a world power. It frustrates me that I don’t know to what degree Mr. Putin is guilty of the many charges that have been leveled against him. I honestly believe that Crimea should be part of Russia. I visited it many times. Eighty plus percent of the people who live there are Russian. It was Russian blood that was shed during the Crimean War. Also, it was being economically neglected by Kiev.
I am not convinced that things are much better now. It use to be that “things” were simply not available to the people. Now, they are available, but many people cannot afford them.

6. Do you have any more books you’d like to write, perhaps about some of the other countries you’ve lived in since Russia?
I actually started to write a second book about my life in other countries; however, after a couple of attempts, it just wasn’t there. Maybe that will change. As you know, I wrote many letters about my experiences in these countries and sent them to friends. Maybe that was enough.

If you are interested in purchasing a book from Charlie, you can send him a check for $23.50 (the 3.50 is for shipping):

Charlie Adams

4104 S Atlantic Ave. #4

Port Orange, FL

32127

or wait until Charlie arrives on the island at the end of June.

Tribute to Connie Brayley

Last month we lost a beloved former island librarian, Connie Brayley. For many years Connie was our Library Director, and one could often find her behind the desk on Saturday mornings. She and her husband Warren (“Dout”) were on the board for many years, assisting in any way that they could, from technical support to Art and Soul, the island’s big summer fundraiser. They were both involved in creating our island’s current library, serving on the planning committee. When Connie retired the library board named the new library’s circulation desk for her. Connie was a real lover of books, and was part of the island’s classic book group for years, including a subsidiary book group we started of classic women writers. She will be dearly missed by all of us on Long Island, and especially her fellow library and book lovers.

Favorite books of 2017: a Top 10 List

According to my Goodreads site, I read 52 books in 2017.

Here are some of my favorites:
*The Rosie Project / by Graeme Simsion. For fun and light reading, but with an undercurrent of thoughtfulness, this is a great read. I especially like that it’s an Australian author, so we get a perspective of life Down Under.

*Scarlett / by Alexandra Ripley. Here’s the story on this one. Several years ago I found this book in a book sale. But I couldn’t read it until I first read “Gone with the Wind” (which is on my “Favorite books of 103” list). Having finally read (and loved) “Gone with the Wind” I could now read “Scarlett,” which is a sequel to Margaret Mitchell’s classic book. Written over 50 years later, Alexandra Ripley picks up the tale, and wow, does she do a wonderful job carrying on the story of Scarlett. I loved it all the way through. Perfect book to read on a cross country train ride last March.

*Lab Girl / by Hope Jahren. Recommended to me by LICL librarian Nancy Jordan, this book was a page turner, which says a lot about a non-fiction book about a scientist. Hope Jahren is not just any scientist, however – she is a fabulous writer, who shares her story with great humor and honesty.

*The forgotten garden / by Kate Morton. For pure British novel escapism, this book which takes place in Australia, London, and Cornwall, is a really fun read.

*When books went to war : the stories that helped us win World War II / by Molly Guptill Manning. This book made the list because of how it inspired me. My interest developed in the subject from my project to catalog our WWI pamphlets. When I found this book it inspired me to head to Bowdoin College Library Special Collections department to view their Armed Services Editions, which were small paperback books read by the soldiers during World War II. I ended up writing a blog for Bowdoin: http://community.bowdoin.edu/news/2017/12/with-books-in-their-pockets-armed-service-editions-at-special-collections/

*Angel and apostle / by Deborah Noyes. This tale picks up where “The Scarlett Letter” leaves off, only by this creative author, Deborah Noyes. Her writing is so lyrical – I wasn’t always sure what she was talking about but reading her novel about Pearl, the daughter of the main character in “The Scarlett Letter,” was pure pleasure.

*Christy / Catherine Marshall. Another classic, I reread this because I gave a copy to a friend, and then decided that I would like to reread it (about 40 years after the first reading). I loved it all over again – such a wonderful story based on a true story – of Christy Huddleston, a young woman who heads into the Appalachian Mountains in 1912 to teach at a mission school.

*Dangerous territory : my misguided quest to save the world / by Amy Peterson. I serendipitously picked up this book from the Portland Public Library, and was immediately immersed into Amy’s story, which can easily echo people I knew at her age. This well written and thoughtful book is so inspiring in many ways, because she doesn’t end up saving the world, but she does find herself along the way (and her husband, too).

*All creation waits : the Advent mystery of new beginnings / by Gayle Boss. This beautifully written and illustrated (with woodcuts) book will make you appreciate all the critters out in the woods and how they are marvelously created to withstand the cold. My sister-in-law in Vermont read it at the same time I did, so it was a shared Advent reading.

What are some of your favorite books that you read last year?

Tea and libraries

I just came across this – how exciting to combine two of my favorite things: tea and libraries ! (for a good cause)

Friend —

We are excited to partner with Arbor Teas, a family-owned organic tea company based in Ann Arbor, Michigan to create a new way of supporting libraries in the United States. You can now purchase tea for yourself, friends, family, and for your staff at your office through Arbor Teas and they will donate 10% of each purchase if you use the coupon code EveryLibrary at checkout. That means you can give the gift of tea AND give American communities the gift of literacy and learning through libraries.
________________________________________
Buy your teas from Arbor Teas this Holiday Season and use the coupon code EVERYLIBRARY to support libraries in the United States.
________________________________________
“Our primary focus is delivering the highest quality organic teas as sustainably as possible, but underpinning this is a passion to use our success to do good and give back,” said Aubrey Lopatin, co-founder at Arbor Teas. “That’s why Arbor Teas is excited to become a sustaining contributor to EveryLibrary’s efforts to rally communities in support of libraries facing funding challenges.”
Arbor Teas first partnered with the library community to support the Ann Arbor District Library’s Summer Game 2017, a points-based program that rewards reading and library use. EveryLibrary and Arbor Teas view this promotion as the beginning of an ongoing partnership which may include other charitable programs in the future.
Individuals looking to support this new partnership can shop online at www.arborteas.com for certified organic teas as well as teaware, gifts and tea-infused sweets. At checkout, enter EveryLibrary as the coupon code, which will remain active indefinitely as a means to generate ongoing funding for library campaigns. One-time and sustaining donations can also be made directly to EveryLibrary at: action.everylibrary.org/donate.

More information is available at: https://www.arborteas.com/everylibrary

November is National Novel Writing Month

Ah, November… when the days get darker earlier, the wind whips through the trees and buildings, and we all turn inwardly, hunkering down in cafes drinking our cappuccinos and lattes. What better way to spend the month than writing a novel. And now there’s a format to do so:

https://nanowrimo.org/

On this website you can track your progress, get pep talks and support, and meet fellow writers online.

Here’s the Maine group:

https://nanowrimo.org/regions/usa-maine

Even if you don’t do the website, winter in Maine is still an ideal setting for writing a novel – I wrote one a few years ago, based on my grandmother’s house in Albany, California. I never attempted to publish it, but what better way to while away a dreary March day than immersing myself into my fantasy world of sunny California, with my imaginary neighborhood full of colorful and interesting buildings and people. I would highly recommend it!


One book, many conversations

Today I participated in a nation-wide conversation about George Orwell’s 1984. This week participants from around the country are gathering to discuss this classic book. This is part of “One book, Many Conversations (manyconversations.org), held October 9-15, 2017. The one I attended was at the Maine Charitable Mechanics Association (on Congress Street in Portland, Maine). Other locations in Portland include The Maine Women Writers Collection (University of New England) and Maine College of Art Library. Can’t make it to a live discussion group? You can participate online!

According to the website:

Together we will delve into 1984, a book that raises questions that are at the core of living in a democracy, including the nature of citizenship, the sources of power, and what it takes to be a leader, to be courageous and to love another human being. These themes are broad, common to the human experience, and cross all partisan boundaries. 

Books and war

I’ve been immersed in World War One pamphlets that arrived here at the Maine Historical Society (my day job) about 100 years ago. We finally decided to catalog them, so this is my summer project. Amidst the pamphlets are letters from the American Library Association’s War Service Committee to librarians, asking for men to go into librarianship, as well as asking for book donations.

According to Wikipedia, The Library War Service was established by the American Library Association in 1917 to provide library services to American soldiers training in camps and serving overseas in World War I. Between 1917 and 1920, the ALA raised $5 million from public donations, erected 36 camp libraries, distributed 7 to 10 million books and magazines, and provided library collections to more than 500 locations, including military hospitals.

I find this all so fascinating, about how books and libraries were necessary during war time. So when I found the book “When books went to war: the stories that helped us win World War II” by Molly Guptill Manning at the Maine Charitable Mechanics Association, I checked it out.

Inside this book, I found wonderful tales of how books indeed were used in fighting the war, mostly in providing a book for every soldier, to help improve morale as they fought a war in the most dismal and horrendous of situations. Some of the book movement was a backlash to the book burning going on in Germany, in an effort to control what people were reading. But there is also interesting information about publishing of paperbacks for soldiers, that were lightweight to carry as they traveled into war torn areas. Anyone who believes in the power of bibliotherapy will find this a thrilling read.

On a different but related note, there are, of course, wonderful novels that take place during war-time. Two of note that relate to World War One are “The summer before the war” by Helen Simonson, and “A star for Mrs. Blake” by April Smith. I’m reading “The summer before the war” right now – as the Belgian refugees are taken in by villagers in Rye, I think about the many pamphlets I’ve catalogued about the German invasion of Belgium, when over 200,000 refugees fled to Britain. This novel helps to bring that fact to life. “A star for Mrs. Blake” is about Cora Blake, of Maine, who makes a pilgrimage to France in the 1930s, with other Gold Star Mothers who lost their sons during World War I.

As we commemorate the 100th anniversary of America’s involvement in World War I let’s take the opportunity to recognize the role of books in wartime.

LICL Summer Book Group

Tonight we’re starting another summer book group at our island library, thanks to the generosity of Jean Murley, the daughter of Curt and Penny Murley, island residents. Jean is an Associate Professor of English at Queensborough Community College of the City University of New York. Last year she led a wonderful study of “Picking Cotton: Our Memoir of Injustice and Redemption” by Jennifer Thompson Cannino, Ronald Cotton, and Erin Torneo.
Jean is back again to lead another book group – this time a novel: Mohsin Hamid’s “How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia.”

We’re meeting the next three Tuesday evenings. I’m looking forward to it!

 

 

Australia in literature and film

Australian writers are really coming into the forefront of literature, at least in my reading. Two authors of books I wrote about previously for “The Library Suggests” are evidence of that: Liane Moriarty and M. L. Stedman (who also appears in previous blogs). I’m currently reading “The Forgotten Garden” by Kate Morton, another Australian writer, which takes place in both Australia and England. I loved “The Rosie Project” by Graeme Simsion, a whimsical and fun romp.

Other classic non-fiction works I’ve enjoyed throughout the years include “Tracks,” by Robyn Davidson, about her travels across Australia by camel (which also became a terrific movie). Jill Ker Conway’s books about growing up in the Australian outback are wonderful, especially “The Road from Coorain.” Jill later became the first female president of Smith College.

One of the first Australian books I read was the novel, “My Brilliant Career” written in 1901 by Miles Franklin (Stella Maria Sarah Miles Franklin). The heroine of the story is Sybylla Melvyn, is an imaginative, headstrong girl growing up in rural Australia in the 1890s.

And to deviate into film, we are enjoying the Dr. Blake mysteries on PBS. The series stars Craig McLachlan in the lead role of Doctor Lucien Blake, who returns home to Ballarat, northwest of Melbourne, in the late 1950s to take over his late father’s general medical practice after an absence of 30 years. And one of my all-time favorite movies is “The Man from Snowy River,” a 1982 Australian drama film based on the Banjo Paterson poem of the same name. I remember seeing it in the theater for the first time and being mesmerized by the scenery, music, and story (which includes a sweet love story).

Who are some of your favorite Australian writers? (Colleen McCullough anyone?)

 

Not Australia, but as close as I’ve gotten (Hawaii)

Which is better – the book or the movie?

Which is better – the book or the movie?  For me, it’s usually the book, but there are always exceptions.

This past month I checked out two DVDs from the Long Island Community Library based on some of my favorite books in recent years. One was “Wild” by and about Cheryl Strayed and her hike on the Pacific Crest Trail – this was a great book, but the movie was merely good. It’s difficult to get the interior voice into a story. It seemed to focus more on Cheryl’s backstory than on her transformative journey. The other movie, which I watched last night, was “Light between oceans” based on M. L. Stedman’s book about a family on a remote lighthouse off Australia. This was a lovely movie, which portrayed the drama with fine casting, and of course the beautiful scenery provided a great backdrop. Even though I knew what was going to happen, I dropped a few tears at the end.

 Another favorite book of mine that I read last year didn’t translate well into a movie, in my opinion: JoJo Moyes’ “Me before you.” I loved this book, especially the dialogue and inner voices. While it was a good story on film, it didn’t seem to be as entertaining as the book. But there again, I knew how it would end. The real test is what my husband thinks of a movie, as he hasn’t read the book and doesn’t know the story. It was fun to watch “Gone Girl” with him as I knew what was going to happen, having read the book by Gillian Flynn, and he didn’t read it. Often when I’m reading a book I think “hmmm… this would make a great movie” – and sometimes a movie is made from the book, and it delivers.

And then there are the times when I see the movie first and then read the book, such as “Gone with the Wind” – I read this book many years after I saw the movie. I loved the book, although I did picture Clark Gable and Vivian Leigh as Rhett and Scarlett as I read the book.

I didn’t care for “A man called Ove” by Frederik Backman, but maybe it will make for a better movie experience. The movie, as well as “Girl on the train” by Paula Hawkins, are available at LICL. Since I haven’t read “Girl on the train” yet, I think I will read it first, and then check out the movie. I’ll let you know what I think – about both!

July 7th: Regarding “Girl on the Train: I enjoyed the book, and the movie! I thought the movie did a good job of translating the book into a movie, although they changed the setting from the London suburbs to the New York City suburbs (but Emily Blunt got to keep her British accent)

 

You can buy the mug above at:

https://www.etsy.com/listing/204814503/funny-mug-coffee-cup-tea-cup-bookworm?ref=finds_l