Vacation Planning

How do you prepare for a vacation? Do you make lists of what to bring, research the area, carefully planning an itinerary to maximize every minute? Or perhaps you tend towards a “wherever the wind blows” approach to your holidays.

If you are like me, finding the right books and making sure that I am prepared on the reading front is often at the top of my list. As you prepare for your vacations and activities, whether it be an afternoon escape to the pool or the trip of a lifetime, might I suggest reading about the place before you visit?

Recently I discovered what an enriching and fun experience reading about the places I planned to visit could be. My husband and I went to Paris for a week, and prior to the trip, I found myself picking up any book that referenced Paris or promised a Parisian adventure.  A surprisingly fun amount of fiction resulted from this random narrowing of my reading list, books like, “ A Moveable Feast”, “The Little Paris Bookshop” and  “Paris in Love: A Memoir”  served to paint a picture of life in Paris. Already dreaming and planning for our vacation, I began to imagine walking the Seine as the characters had, dining on wine and cheese under golden lights, and drinking espresso at sidewalk cafes as I watched the world wander by. My itinerary took on new depth, a food tour was now a must do, as I was ready to taste all that Paris had to offer.

And in the weeks leading up to our trip, I added “A Tale of Two Cities”, “The Paris Wife”, and “The Elegance of the Hedgehog”, my imagination transfixed by the Paris of past and present. My excitement grew the more I read, an image of Paris was forming, one that included Notre Dame and hidden bookstores, oversized scarfs and macaroons.

Once we arrived, the City of Lights seemed eerily familiar, as the place I had been so intently reading about, was now under my feet. And true confession, now that I had arrived, I had no desire to read about it (and no time to!), as the city I had only ever read about was before me.

What other books would you recommend? Any fun vacations this summer? Come into the store and we will happily assist in your planning by crafting the perfect reading list!

– km reader


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Tales of a Book-a-holic: Volume One

Audio Books

I discovered audio books years ago when my kids were young and I spent many hours on the road, taking them from one event to another.  I found that it became far too frustrating reading just at stop lights.  My kids grew tired of telling me when the light changed!  So I had to find a way to feed my reading habit and be a good role model for my children.  I discovered audio books!

I am also a fan of Nora Robert and J.D. Robb (the same person).  I have read ALL of her books.  I don’t usually like adventure and suspense, but after having read all of Nora Roberts’ books, I decided to give J.D. Robb a try, and absolutely loved her “In Death” series!  I’ve read through the series twice now – first out of order and then in order.   There are 48 books in the series.  I’m not sure why, but a few months ago I decided to listen to the audio books.  I’m now up to book 30.  Wow, what a difference!

Here are two things that have changed my mind about audio books:

1.  The Voice – When I read, everyone has a certain voice in my head.  I thought audio books would interfere with my own idea of what the character sounded like.  Nothing could be farther from the truth!  The narrator, Susan Ericksen, is great!  She has a great sense of the background of the characters and how they were meant to be portrayed.  She has narrated the entire series so the voices of the characters are very distinctive and consistent.  So if you’re looking into an audio book, I’d look for the more experienced narrators.  Any number of websites will feature the best known narrators.

2.  The Dialogue – I’ve found that when I read the books, I sometimes skip some of the dialogue and descriptions (to get to the good parts).  Now that I’m listening to someone else read the book, I don’t skip ahead (out of fear I’ll miss something).  Boy, have I missed some of the most romantic dialogue between Eve and Roarke, beautiful descriptions of their inner feelings that makes me really sympathize and understand the emotions that the characters are feeling, and vivid descriptions of scenes.  In short, I’m hooked!

Stay tuned for some of my favorite parts and the reasons why they’re my favorite.

Happy Reading!

A Fellow Book-a-holic

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Behind the Beautiful Forevers Katherine Boo

Since Behind the Beautiful Forevers was for book club, I didn’t give it much thought before I started reading. In all honesty, the book is super depressing. The kind of book that weighs on you as you wonder if the corrupt justice system will ruin the Husain’s life, if Asha will make a decision that isn’t completely corrupt or self-serving, and if anything good will happen to a character. While I had read other books about slums in Mumbai, India, the ubiquitous corruption, inescapable poverty, and general hopelessness of Behind the Beautiful Forevers was deeply disturbing and I found myself hating the book.

My perspective changed once I finished the book and read that it was ALL TRUE. The author, Katherine Boo, spent four years listening to the stories of the Annawadi slum residents and putting them into narrative form. Previously she reported on poverty in the United States and uses that background to access the complicated dynamics and relationships of this particular world.

I was surprised how much my perspective changed simply because I knew it was a true story. If the book was fiction, I expected to root for the characters, for them to be likable, and the ickiness less pervasive.  But if it was true, then somehow I was willing to accept the awfulness. Perhaps once I categorize a book as non-fiction, I can distance myself from the characters in a way I rarely do with fiction.

I have read more narrative non-fiction in recent years and find it a fascinating and sometime disconcerting way to approach a topic. This kind of writing messes with the strict fiction/non-fiction ways I apparently have been reading, drawing me closer to subjects that more closely reflect reality.

I do recommend this book and would love to hear your thoughts on narrative non-fiction.

Happy, or in this case, not so happy reading!

Mj Reader

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An Interesting Way to Look at History

An Interesting Way to Look at History

Here I am again – the non-history buff, reading and being fascinated by a book of History. I saw this book on the shelf and thought my son-in-law might enjoy reading it, mostly because of his love of and interest in coffee. When I showed the book to him, I found out he already owns it and it is one of his favorites.
So what is it about this book that makes it so good? Mr. Standage takes the reader around the world and from ancient to modern history using six drinks – beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea and coca-cola – as his focal points. He tells us where, when and how each drink came into being, and the social, economic, political, and even philosophical impact it had in various parts of the world. The author puts an amazing amount of information into a very well-written, concise and often eye-opening account of drinks whose histories we rarely consider. What are the connections between beer and agriculture? Wine and Greek civilization? Alcohol and slavery? Tea and a global superpower? Read Mr. Standage’s book and you will learn!

Hometown Girl

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February 10, 2014 · 12:43 pm

The Book Lady & Co Reading Group

   It was Christmas time again and somehow I couldn’t figure out what to get my mother. The truth is, she is not picky but because she does so much for people (me included) day in and day out, I wanted to make sure her gift was special. The Bookstore Lady likes quality time gifts, and since both the sci-fi goddess and I live 5 states away, I decided that this year we would do a virtual book club together.

    So far it’s a bit of a hodge-podge list, mostly topics either I am interested in – politics, or the Book Lady has had next to her bed for the last few months – Half the Sky.  Some God books and a little fiction to round it out and we are good to go. Below is the tentative list for the first 6 months, so feel free to offer suggestions for other books. I will also be posting reviews so you can check back and hear what we thought before choosing whether to read the book.

    Like all ideas that sound good in January, I am hoping this one makes it to December!

Happy Reading!

MJ Reader

 The Book Lady & Co. Reading Group

 The First Six Months

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Filed under Book Club, Christian, Holiday, Mothers

What shall I read today?

      I enjoy reading history (as long as I don’t have to cram for an exam), but I am not what you would call a history buff. I’m certain I have a better grasp of American history than world history, but I’m sure that much of what I learned in high school and college has been forgotten.

      I read a lot of fiction, but I try to have some non-fiction around to further my knowledge in whatever area catches my attention through a book cover or title. Over a period of many months, I happened to bring home these four books: Zondervan Handbook To The Bible; Bernard Lewis’ What Went Wrong? (The Clash Between Islam and Modernity in the Middle East); The Handy History Answer Book edited by Rebecca Nelson; and Let There Be Clothes (40,000 years of fashion) by Lynn Schnurnberher.

      I was reading a little of each book as the mood struck me. There was no plan or schedule to my reading, and the books were scattered around my house. But as I read, I began to see certain events (such as, the beginning of and the decline of the Ottoman Empire) mentioned in all four books. I was getting a biblical timeline perspective, a general historical perspective, a political world view perspective, and , yes, indeed, a fashion perspective on that and other events. Pulling the facts and ideas together was exciting, unlike much of my textbook reading in school. I found myself putting the books in one spot so I could refer to one and then another, and really get the big picture. I know that if I had to write a paper on, for example, the Ottoman Empire, I would certainly have to refer to several if not many books. But I don’t know that I would have pulled a biblical reference book and I surely know that I would not have referenced a fashion book!

      So, lesson learned: studying history (or any other area of learning you may choose) can be like a treasure hunt if you have the right materials. Seemingly diverse books can pull together information when you least expect it! So, branch out! Pick something new, different, and unusual – and see where the reading takes you.

Small Town Gal

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Robert Goldsborough Book Signing – October 5, 2013 at 1 p.m.

Stop by the bookstore and meet Robert Goldsborough, the author of eight Nero Wolfe mysteries!

In his latest novel, Archie Meets Nero Wolfe, Mr. Goldsborough takes us back to the first time Archie Goodwin and Nero Wolfe meet and tells the story of how the Wolfe/Goodwin partnership came into being.  If you’re interested in finding out just how Mr. Goldsborough decided to write his first Nero Wolfe mystery (Murder in E Minor) stop by our store on October 5th.

 The mystery, Three Strikes You’re Dead, is our introduction to Steve Malek , a (Chicago) “Tribune police reporter in a city gripped by the Kelly-Nash political machine and the post-Capone crime syndicate. ” Steve, nicknamed Snap, like all reporters, is always on the lookout for that one great story and manages to get himself into some  very dangerous situations trying to find it.  We can follow Malek through his multiple quests for that “story of a lifetime,” courtesy of Robert Goldsborough.

I met Mr. Goldsborough at the Love is Murder Mystery Conference last February.  He stopped by our Cornerstone booth and spent some time chatting with me and Kathy (Cornerstone’s owner).  Mr. Goldsborough is a great conversationalist, and Kathy and I really enjoyed the time he spent with us.  We had such an enjoyable conversation that we asked him to come and visit with us at the bookstore.  We are looking forward to his visit on October 5th and hope that you will join us.


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