Reading

Book Club with Hugo Marston & The Bookseller

balck and white book cover with Paris elaborate bridge over the Seine in the foreground and Eifel Tower in the background

A well written mystery, with a story that evolves from an interest in antique books, to the kidnapping of a bouquiniste (a bookseller with a stall along the Seine), plus historic WWII intrigue, and, of course, murder.  There is even a little love interest scribed by Mark Pryor in The Bookseller, the first title in the Hugo Marston series.

After enjoying our first book club title, The Directors – a library loving, book reading, wine drinking group of retired friends – moved literary settings from the English countryside to Paris for our second book club choice.  The Bookseller introduced us to Hugo Marston, a former FBI profiler now head of embassy security in Paris.  The tall Texan, who is fluent in French, loves well brewed coffee and walking Paris streets, possesses a strong sense of justice but will diplomatically step out of the limelight and let the French police claim the glory after catching the bad guys.  The Directors all agreed we will be exploring the other titles in Pryor’s Hugo Marston series.

Happy reading!

Reading

Earth Day – starting early

Photo by Markus Spiske from Prexels

Usually Earth Day arrives, as it does every April 22, and catches me unaware.  I go oops I should have [fill in the blank – read or investigated or donated or something] before now.  So this year, still living in these Covid times, I am starting early and Gum Trees and Galaxies provided just the right incentive.  The blog’s co-authors, who self describe as “…a couple of Australian empty nesters (not grey nomads, at least not yet), exploring, experimenting and recording life,” invite their readers to a nature reading challenge.  Yes, I am still exploring reading challenges for 2021.  They even provide a downloadable Gaia Book Bingo card to enhance your Gaia/Nature reading adventure.

Join me in reading and celebrating Earth Day 2021!  You can start early too.  Reduce.  Recycle.  Reuse.

Knitting · Reading

Knitting in the City

Knitting in the City © Penny Reid

When launched as a Covid coping tool, Knit+ Librarian was intended to highlight my current reading without being too book-reportish.  However, a quick review of recent posts reveals a dearth of titles and lest you think this librarian has given up on books – not to worry.  I have simply opted not to report each book title-by-title.  My Goodreads account is a finely-tuned tool that provides titles, dates and ratings on a five-star scale, as well as a list of what I am reading and an ever-growing want-to-read list. At the moment I have six titles open:

  • Ghosts of the Shadow Market by Cassandra Clare – a YA paranormal fantasy audio book for multitasking while I knit
  • Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson and A Good Time for the Truth, an anthology edited by Sun Yung Shin – for upcoming book discussions I am leading at church (reported on earlier)
  • The Bookseller by Mark Pryor – the first in the Hugo Marston murder series for the upcoming The Directors’ bookclub
  • The Art of the Wasted Day by St. Paul author Patricia Hampl – a recent gift from a friend
  • Knitlandia by Clara Parkes – another gift from a friend that I come back to chapter by chapter.

Let me recommend – – – For light reading with a knitting tie-in, author Penny Reid, provides the right combination of good things – character development, dialogue, humor, all set against a Chicago backdrop – in her Knitting in the City series.  I have finished Book 5:  Happily Ever Ninja and downloaded book 6 to my iPad.  These contemporary romances can be read as stand-alone titles but there is a nice flow between the books as we meet seven good friends who gather every Tuesday night to knit or crochet all the while enjoying adult beverages and offering great worldly advice.  As with every title within this genre, the expected occurs – girl meets boy, attraction, romance and love happen albeit with some challenges.  Unlike some series where the characters are so interchangeable so as to be cardboard cutouts from one title to the next, the women of Knitting in the City are as unique as any collection of your friends.  Reid uses knitting as a connecting thread week-to-week as the story and relationships develop sufficient to keep any fiber lover happy but without overwhelming the non-knitter.  Sometimes she even slips in references to Ravelry patterns.  And, for the really knit-nerdy, Reid offers a companion title that includes 27 patterns based on her characters’ knitting creations.

Happy reading!

Reading

Read & Celebrate Minnesota Authors

For over 20 years, the Minnesota Book Awards have celebrated Minnesota authors connecting readers and writers of all genres.  The 36 finalists for the 2021 award were just announced and include some favorite authors and new names too.  Check out the list for your reading pleasure and then check back April 29 when the winners will be announced.  Or, even better, join the free virtual festivities. 

Reading

Reading Challenges

Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

After decades of librarianship and managing countless summer reading programs for children and winter reading programs for adults – all encouraging the pure enjoyment of reading (whatever form: paper page or tablet or headphones), I have discovered the phenomenon of reading challenges.  While I have participated in any number of knitting challenges:  52 hats in one year, 12 shawls, themed cowls, etc., I never thought about reading challenges other than to set an annual Goodreads goal along with 2.6 million other Goodreads participants.  But trust me they abound!  I’ve listed a few resources I found inspiring but, if these are not to your liking, a simple Google search will yield 700 million more.  Thanks to Swedish school librarian, Elin, for my introduction to 2021 reading challenges.

Happy Reading!


Reading

The Sassenach

Just like “rain drops on roses…and warm woolen mittens”, good whisky should be added to Julie Andrews’s My Favorite Things.  My special bottle of The Sassenach Blended Scotch Whisky Spirit of Home (not available in Minnesota) was shipped by boat from Scotland to New Jersey where USPS took up the task of delivering it safely to my Mother’s house in Wisconsin and I picked it up today for our tasting delight.  They say whisky is an acquired taste and retirement is certainly allowing this acquisition. We have already enjoyed a “wee sip” necessitating the late evening, poorly light photo with the seal still intact.  Thank you Sam Heughan aka Jamie Fraser.

Sláinte!

Reading

Book Club: The Thursday Murder Club

When I started Knit+ Librarian, I thought I could simply resurrect my blogging skills and, violà, creativity would abound.  But I forgot that while the WYSIWYG environment is easy to navigate it also abounds in sophistication.  Depending on themes and choices, the options for style and design are wildly numerous.  So, as part of my 2021 self-improvement resolutions, I registered for WordPress Courses and, dear reader, you may see some different posts (not just knitting or baking) as I experiment with tools and techniques.  First up – learning new formatting options and inserting a YouTube video.


The Directors – a library loving, book reading, wine drinking group of retired friends – just finished our first book club discussion, something new for the new year.  Our kickoff title was the charming debut mystery, The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman.  The septuagenarian and octogenarian characters are laugh-out-loud funny as they gather evidence, support the local constabulary, enjoy a cocktail and, of course as our heroes, solve the mystery.  We all agreed, later in life, we could easily conceive of living in such a retirement village as the one nestled in the hills of Kent, England.  Enjoy a book promoting interview with the author.

Reading

When life interests intersect …

Throughout my library career I advocated for the Minnesota Center for the Book and the Minnesota Book Awards.  I’ve booktalked Book Award nominated titles and represented Greater Minnesota on the Book Award Advisory Committee, as well as attended receptions at the Library of Congress to celebrate the work of Centers for the Book around the United States. 

So I was excited to learn about a new book club – One Book / One Minnesota.  Launched in the spring of 2020 as Minnesota went into Covid quarantine and libraries closed their doors to walk-in patrons, One Book encouraged Minnesotans to read together.  The three titles selected thus far feature award winning Minnesota authors:

  1. Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
  2. A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota edited by Sun Yung Shin
  3. A Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich.

A blending of reading good books by Minnesota authors and retirement life came together last night as I led an online book discussion of A Good Time for the Truth.  This anthology contains 16 extremely well written chapters, each by a different Minnesota author, each a Person of Color living and working in our state.  Artfully edited by Sun Yung Shin.  The first lines of her introduction reads:

You hold in your hand a book of visions.  Memories.  True stories.  Shock.  Grief.  Dreams.  Activism.  Recognition. A call for us to listen and learn about one another’s real lives in Minnesota.

While the setting and many of the references are Minnesota specific, the stories are real whether they occur in Minneapolis or Minocqua, Rochester or Rockford or any city, USA.  Stories which reveal how those who look like me – white, middle-aged, educated, financially comfortable, that is to say privileged – take for granted our place in this white patriarchy.  Or, conversely as Sun Yung Shin states:

Most people of color in the United States have to think about race every day, multiple times a day.  We are constantly negotiating our bodies, our selves, our identities, in a racialized society.

These stories are so well written and revealing that I could only read one at a time before setting down the book and taking time and space to reflect, sometimes to cry, about the injustices and inequities to which I was blind.  This same sentiment was expressed by several participating in our church’s Common Read book discussion.

We are living the great American democratic experiment.  But for it to be truly successful, all the voices need to be heard.  Those Indigenous People with whom our government has repeatedly broken trust.  Those whose ancestors were brought here against their will chained in the holds of slave ships.  Those who came to this “land of opportunity” for a myriad of reasons and every day enrich the whole of our existence but whose contributions are minimized because they are different.  I encourage you to pick up a copy of A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota.  Read with an open heart the beauty of the language on the page and hear the stories of fellow Americans. After, give me a call or an email or a text so we can chat as we grow and learn together.

P.S. If you want to hear some of the authors in their own voices, check out this One Book / One Minnesota YouTube video with Sun Young Shin and six of the anthology’s authors.

Knitting · Reading

Fox in Socks

Fox    Socks    Box    Knox    Knox in box.  Fox in socks.

After my toe-up Ruisseau Socks, I swore off knitting this particular clothes item.  Too fussy.  All that work to complete just one and, of course, one is not enough so you are done but not done.  Then the September Knit Camp project was (you guessed it) SOCKS.  So, ever the practical person (after all why pay for classes and then skip them) I tackled another pair.  Designed by Marie Greene and dubbed Milkshake Socks because this is “An old-fashion recipe for plain socks that you can shake up with your choice of colorful yarns. … Think of your yarn choice like adding flavor to your milkshake.” 

Gauge for Ruisseau required US #1 needles.  My first time working with something that small and my sock learning experience was to continue as Milkshake necessitated a #0 based on my tension and this yarn.  To get a sense of size – pull out a ruler with metric measurements.  A #1 needle is 2.25mm in diameter and the #0 a fraction smaller at 2mm.

New socks.  Two socks.  Whose socks?  Sue’s socks.  Who sews whose socks?  Sue sews Sue’s socks.

No new yarn was purchased for this project as I did a stash dive for this orange-turquoise-gray self-striping skein called Enceladus (one of Saturn’s ice moons).  The color combo was unique to Northfield Yarns and purchased during the 2015 YarnVenture shop hop.  At the time I had yet to knit a pair of socks or even add them to my project queue.  I picked up the exclusive hand dyed skein solely because as it was featured by what I now dub my local yarn store (LYS).

With my Milkshake Socks complete, I think I may really be done with socks – – – Thank you Dr. Suess and Fox in Socks [or not!]

Reading · Travel

The Directors

We had planned a July trip to the popular destination of Nissawa. Yes, I know this Minnesota town may not be on your travel go-to list, but we enjoyed time together in August 2018 that included good conversation, shopping and attending Wine & Words. It was while we were at that first author brunch that we named ourselves, The Directors. Plus, a walk in the Grand View gardens is always a beauthiful setting. But Covid-19 foiled our 2020 plans. Initially, we simply thought to forego the large dinner/brunch gatherings but then the event planners managed a major shift from on-site to virtual and so, today, we connected online to hear the six 2020 Wine & Words authors. This year the brunch social hour had the authors video chatting from their kitchens and, appropriately, sharing drink, food, and summer canning recipes.