RAY’S READING RECOMMENDATIONS

Remember that I write for myself to remember, but also to share. As an out-of-print bookseller I am always with books, in the shop, or in the house. I am always reading snippets while cataloguing books for sale, but also I will become fascinated with a subject matter to learn about, or find an author (recently mysteries) who writes so well with characters, bringing locations to life, and great plots and stories.

Since I cannot remember all I have read and enjoyed (or not) I thought a page of what I have read will help me remember, but also share to possibly encourage you to pick up the book as well. So, here begins a work in progress since I have reading piles everywhere, and I will try to go back to the beginning of 2021 at least. Most recent reads at the top – enjoy, RAY

In November I experienced the Guilford, Vermont, library which is about half the size of the first floor of my home. On the new arrivals shelf was THE BOOKSELLER’S SECRET by Michelle GableBookseller.s Secret. Intrigued, I asked my library to get it on inter-library loan. They bought it instead. Billed as “A Thrilling Novel About Real-Life Literary Icon Nancy Mitford,” it is set in wartime London, when Nancy worked in an iconic bookshop. Little is known of those years in Mitford’s life, thus a plausible fictional story can be woven full of actual historical details so you can get a feel for the times and the person. A similar approach was taken in THE LOST SUMMER OF LOUISA MAY ALCOTT, and I wrote such a piece on HORATIO ALGER in the late 80s. Chapters jump back and forth from following Nancy in the 1940s, and the current day as Katie and Simon are curious about, and researching what happened while looking for a lost manuscript. I enjoy having a laptop at my side when reading. Browser on Google, so I can check facts to learn, and also to understand new words, and here British slang. I dare you – copy/paste and learn kinkajou to insert in your next conversation. And, from page 53, “books are supposed to be a pleasure.” And, one can also get an appreciation for a period of time (WWII London) and the entwined lives of interesting personages. Certainly was worth some hours of my time.

Memory ManA couple of years ago I became “hooked” on the writing of master story teller David Baldacci. His mysteries and thrillers are well developed and the stories amazing. It seems that as each chapter ends with a sentence or two it draws you to immediately start the next chapter. A couple days ago I started his Amos Decker series (read his series in order) which begins with MEMORY MAN. At 8PM on Saturday night, 13 September, I knew I had to finish, and I did at 1:15 AM. With so many of his tales you also learn about a place or something else. In this book you delve into learning about some of the workings of the mind, and what can go wrong. You will not go wrong picking up any of Baldacci’s books, BUT, start with the first book in each series for the character and plot development.

Great Danbury State FairOn my recent trip to the Danbury Railway Museum in Connecticut, I discovered THE LIFE AND TIMES OF THE GREAT DANBURY STATE FAIR by Gladys Stetson Leahy, and completed by her grandson, John H. Stetson. Having grown up just south of the fairgrounds in Wilton, I have memories of the fair and Saturday night stock car races on the grounds. I immediately purchased the book, I recommend anyone who remembers the fair to pick up it. I started with the last half of the book by Stetson (who ran the fair until its end in 1981). because I figured I would relate best to that, and wanted to know how it closed. Then I read Gladys’ account of how her husband, John revived the fair after World War II and how a fair is run (even with history back to its 1869. beginning) her conversational reminiscent style is wonderful. Pick up a copy and enjoy, or at least head to YouTube and watch John’s documentary on the fair. (October 2021)

Midnight Garden Good EvilMIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL: A SAVANNAH STORY by John Berendt (1994). I had a copy of this book in stock in the shop a decade ago, but it was mentioned in an Atlee Pine book by David Baldachi (see below). Non-fiction, Berendt sets the scene of this true murder story with the fascinating history of Savannah, and the most interesting cast of real-life characters that you get to know. The writing is amazing. I have not been to Savannah in thirty years, but having pictured so well by Berendt, I am planning a trip. Pick this up at your library, and you will not put it down until you are finished. As acclaimed as the movie is, the book develops the characters so you really get to know them. You learn more about Savannah’s history, culture and surroundings. Even having read the book first, the movie was hard for me to follow. (September 2021)