Although my main emphasis for 2020 is to complete Dollycas’s 2020 Alphabet Soup Challenge, author edition, to read 20 books in 2020 recommended by fellow bloggers, and to clear my TBR shelves to a manageable number of books (which I have already done), I still continue 2019’s goals of reading more non-fiction as well as Books about Books.
The Book I completed tonight is Charles Lovett’s The Bookman’s Tale, which is described by the cover as A Novel of Obsession. An old-fashioned romance, book-themed mystery, and dramatic who-done-it, aka Agatha-Christie-style, ending, this novel was a fun read. At a little over 300 pages, it alternated chapters between Peter, the protagonist, as a young man; Peter as a bereaved widow; and bookbinders, booksellers, and book forgers who were contemporaries of Shakespeare. Throw in the protagonist with a new love interest trapped in an underground tunnel (that connects two enemies’ manor houses) and arriving the end to be met with a self-confessed murderer aiming a pistol at them, and the reader is on his way to a bang up ending. (Sorry, I couldn’t restrain myself!)
Lovett wrote this book in 2013, but it appeals to readers of all sexes and all ages who enjoy books, bookstores, booksellers, and revelations from those who are obsessed with the authorship and collecting of books. It is an excellent read.
Join in with those of us bloggers who participate in First Line Fridays by copying the first line or two of what you are currently reading. Get responses from readers as to whether they’d be “hooked” by those lines.
Today’s Friday First Liner is from Charlie Lovett’s The Bookman’s Tale, yet another of my Books about Books reads:
“Wales could be cold in February. Even without snow or wind the damp winter air permeated Peter’s topcoat and settled in his bones as he stood outside one of the dozens of bookshops that crowded the narrow streets of Hay.” BRRRRRR. Read on and find a warm story of a true bibliophile.
Tuesday Teaser is hosted by The Purple Booker and asks participants to copy a sentence or two from where they are currently reading in hopes of teasing other readers to read the same book.
My teaser today is from one of my Books about Books challenge, Charlie Lovett’s The Bookman’s Tale.
“In a box in the dusty back room of a local antique shop, Peter discovered an early edition of George McDonald’s fantasy novel, At the Back of the North Wind. The book was illustrated by the Pre-Raphaelite follower, Arthur Hughes…This would be the first book Peter would give Amanda…a perfect candidate for rebinding.”
I am following Peter, an introverted book collector and binder who meets the love of his life, Amanda, only to lose her later in the book. There is mystery, romance, and bibliophilic devotion involved in this 2013 novel.
I read a large number of books about books, bookstores, libraries, librarians, and everything “bookish” last year. It was a fun indulgence and one that I really enjoyed. Recently, at our local library, I spotted a book with a “body-builder” guy lifting a huge load of books titled, The World’s Strongest Librarian. Looking closer, I read the subtitle,”A Memoir of Tourette’s, Faith, Strength, and Family.” Josh Hanagarre, the book’s author tells his fascinating tale of how he became a librarian, manages his Tourette’s, has a fairly “normal” life with a wife and family, and is a champion weight lifter and expert at strengthening exercises.
After I had read the first few chapters which described a happy, uneventful boyhood in a family-centered, Mormon home in Utah, I began to read of his devotion to his Mormon faith and thought, “Uh-oh, here comes a lot of Mormon propaganda.” I almost put down the book, but I’m so glad I didn’t. Told honestly and sometimes brutally, Hanagarre describes his onset of Tourette’s and his loss of faith. (No, he doesn’t miraculously get it back and everything ends happily ever after–another interesting turn of his story.) His acceptance of his disability and his control (to a degree) of it through excruciating exercises and weight lifting provides a tale of courage, perseverance, and determination.
Although the anecdotes about peculiar happenings and patrons of a big city library are expected, Josh’s handling of both proves he is “not your average librarian.” The book is humorous, touching, introspective, and interesting the entire way through. I am going to count this memoir as my non-fiction read for February (The Church of Small Things being my January non-fiction read.) I had originally hoped to read 12 non-fiction books in 2020 (the same number I aimed for and exceeded in 2019), but now I am aiming for one non-fiction book per month.
Have you read any non-fiction lately I would enjoy? Please let me know in the reply section below.
What better than a book set in a small library n a small town, whose main character is a librarian? The Library of Lost and Found, a 2019 novel by Phaedra Patrick, her debut novel, is, as critics claim, “Eccentric, charming and wise.” The “local” librarian, Martha Storm has lost her chance at finding true love since she cared for her elderly parents (while working at the town library) until their deaths, and until she is firmly established as everyone’s favorite “old maid”. Everyone agrees she is the person to ask if you need help or a favor, for she has “all the time in the world” and “nothing better to do.” Martha still lives in her parents’ home, which looks like something out of a hoarder’s nightmare because she does not have the time or energy to go through her parents’ things; plus, her living and dining room are cluttered with “projects” she has taken on for other people: pants to hem for her sister’s son since the sister doesn’t have time, a paper mâché dragon’s head to repair for the theater department of the local high school, and on and on.
Actually, this is not just the story of things that get lost in Martha’s house, but of how she has lost herself and finds herself, as well as a second chance at love. Library has been called “…a hymn to books and how they can bring love even miracles into your life.” And they do just that in Martha’s life. The thing I like best about Martha’s development and reformation is how she “writes her own happy ending.” I highly recommend The Library of Lost and Found.
In 2018 and 2019, I read many books about bookstores, libraries, and books in general. I enjoyed this so much I am going to continue in 2020 to read “books about books.” One of these I have read since New Year’s Day is Goodnight June by Sarah Rio. Yes, it is based on the children’s classic, Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown. This novel is based on Jio’s “take” on how the children’s classic may have come to be. The protagonist, June Anderson, librarian, inherits her Great Aunt Ruby’s bookstore which specializes in children’s books. June discovers letters written by her Aunt Ruby to Margaret Wise Brown written in the 40s that are the key to family secrets and will unlock a change in June’s character that will keep the reader cheering for the altruistic librarian. A touch of romance rounds out this author’s engaging tale and provides a “darned good read.”
This 2017 publication represents my favorite genre, Books about Books. Bob is not tall, dark and handsome; in fact, Bob is not even a man. BOB stands for Book of Books, a “bound record of everything [the author] has read or didn’t quite finish since the summer of 1988, my junior year of high school.” Each chapter revolves around the title of a book that coordinates with a period n the author’s life. I once read a book that revolved around fashions, which declared that women might forget names and dates of certain events n their lives, but they will always remember what they were wearing. This author catalogs periods and events in her life by what she was reading at the time.
The introduction states, “Bob offers immediate access to where I’ve been psychologically and geographically at any given moment in my life… Each entry conjures a memory that might otherwise have gotten lost or blurred with time.” The first book remembered is Brave New World, read in high school, and continues from there. Books place the author in Paris, Thailand, and many places around the world, and the reader is given a glimpse of the author’s life through her reactions to the books she reads.
For me, this was a fun read that satisfied my inner book-nerd and allowed me to enjoy a memoir at its most creative form. I give this one five stars our of five stars.