Friday, March 13, 2015


Our esteemed colleague and reading machine, Abby DeShane, has decided to rejoin the efforts of bringing our competition to their knees!  Welcome back Abby!  So glad to have your numbers back in the mix!!

Our District numbers:     14 people
                                           63 items read
                                           17035 pages

It breaks down like this:       FV               HP               MC               WW
                                              4                  2                   7                    1
                                              23                4                   30                  6
                                              8697            1086             5272             1980

And now for a select list of things we read last month:

Busy Body: An Agatha Raisin Mystery by M. C. Beaton
Death of a Liar: A Hamish Macbeth Mystery by M. C. Beaton
Death of a Valentine by M. C. Beaton
Something Borrowed, Something Dead by M. C. Beaton
The Face of a Stranger by Anne Perry
Long Spoon Lane by Anne Perry
Seven Dials by Anne Perry
Slaves of Obsession by Anne Perry
A Sudden, Fearful Death by Anne Perry
A Dog's Purpose by Bruce Cameron
Flesh and Blood by Patricia Cornwell
The Gray Mountain by John Grisham
The Boys in the Boat by David James Brown
Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez
The Hundred Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais
The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan
The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan
The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan
America's First Adventure in China: Trade, Treaties, Opium, and Salvation by John R. Haddad
American Hipster: A Life of Herbert Huncke by Hilary Holladay
The 1920s: Luck by Dorothy and Tom Hoobler
Lets Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris
The Big Necessity by Rose George
The Word Exchange: A Novel by Alena Graedon
Whistling in the Dark: A Doubter's Dictionary by Frederick Buechner
Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC by Frederick Buechner
Music at Midnight: The Life and Poetry of George Herbert
The Innocent by David Baldacci
Bitterroot by James Lee Burke
P.S. Be Eleven by Rita Williams-Garcia
The Children Act by Ian McEwan
The Ploughmen by Kim Zupon
Lillian on Life by Allison Lester
The First Bad Man by Miranda July
More Awesome Than Money by Jim Dwyer
Saint Brigid's Bones by Phillip Freeman
Unbecoming: A Novel by Rebecca Scherm
Dragnet Nation: A Quest for Privacy, Security and Freedom in a World of Relentless Surveillance by Julia Angwin
The Art of Stillness by Pico Iyer
The Care and Management of Lies by Jacqueline Winspear
The World We Found by Thrity Umrigar
Station Eleven by Emily St John
The Deepest Secret by Carla Buckley
Crazy Love You by Lisa Unger
Smokin' Seventeen by Janet Evanovich
The Bees by Laline Paull
Hushed Voices by Herbert Adam

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Brrr....Winter Reading Comes to STLCC

The number of participants in the book challenge continues to diminish, but some of us are still plugging away...

13 people read
46 books, for a total of
15,844 pages!

Want a breakdown by campus?  Here ya go:

                     FV                    HP                    MC
people           3                        3                       7
books           10                       9                      27
pages          4111                  3473                  8260

What we read:

11/22/63 by Stephen King
Rose Gold by Walter Mosley
Inferno by Dan Brown
Books Can Be Deceiving by Jenn McKinlay
Book, Line and Sinker by Jenn McKinlay
Cloche and Daggar by Jenn McKinlay
Due or Die by Jenn McKinlay
Read it and Weep by Jenn McKinlay
A New York Christmas by Anne Perry
The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
People of the Morning Star by W. Michael and Kathleen Gear
People of the River by W. Michael and Kathleen Gear
Ways of Seeing by John Berger
All the Light We Can Not See by Anthony Doerr
Unlucky 13 by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro
A Place at the Table by Susan Rebecca White
The Map that Changed the World by Simon Winchester
Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham
Labor Day by Joyce Maynard
Aquamarine by Carol Anshaw
Snow Angels by James Thompson
Lucifer's Tears by James Thompson
Helsinki White by James Thompson
Helsinki Blood by James Thompson
Bone Dust White by Karin Salvalaggio
Adobe Photoshop CC Clasroom in a Box
Midnight RisingL John Brown and the Raid that Sparked the civil War by Tony Horwitz
The Great Hunt by Robert Jordan
Allegiant by Veronica Roth
Something Rich and Strange by Ron Rash
A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James
Wild Ran the Rivers by James D Crownover
Missing Reels by Farran Smith Nehme
Lillian on Life by Allison Jean Lester
Milton's Brief epic:the Genre, Meaning and Art of Paradise Regained by Barbara Keifer Lewalski
J.S. Bach's Johannine Theology by Eric Jaffe
The English Poems of John Milton 
An Uncommon Man: The Triumph of  Herbert Hoover by Richard Norton Smith
Voyage by Diana Gabaldon
The Bees by Laline Paul

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Bees

Can you imagine an entire novel written from the point of view of a worker bee? I found this while browsing the shelves for something to read over the holidays. I thought it might be difficult to get into, but I couldn't put it down. Flora 717 is a rebellious individual in a society that values conformity. Her curiosity and secrets put her in danger but also enable her to rise from the lowest level of workers, to a valued forager, to a final triumph and the salvation of her hive.
The Bees by Laline Paull, 2014.

Monday, December 15, 2014

November Reading Brings a Drop in Participation

As a district our numbers are:

12 people
44 books
12,051 pages

How did it break down you ask?

FV- 4 people, 17 books, 5412 pages

HP- 2 people, 8 books, 1770 pages

MC- 6 people, 19 books, 4869 pages.

Books we read:

The Winter King by Alys Clare
A Rumpole Christmas by John Mortimer
Friendly Game of Murder by J J Murphy
Buckingham Palace Gardens by Anne Perry
Defend or Betray by Anne Perry
The Hyde Park Headsman by Anne Perry
Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco
Six Degrees of Separation by John Guare
The Return by Hakan Nesser
The Target by David Baldacci
Eye to Eye: The Photographs of Vivian Maier
The Long Way Home by Louise Penny
Shifting Shadows by Mercy Thompson
The Walking Dead vol. 21 by Robert Kirkham
Stolen by Kelly Armstrong
The Walking Dead vol. 22 by Robert Kirkham
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J K Rowling
Shadow Traffic by Richard Burgin
Killer by Johnathon Kellerman
Finger Lickin' Fifteen by Janet Evanovich
Fox Tracks by Rita Mae Brown
The Garden Party by Katherine Manfield
A New York Christmas by Anne Perry
The Anatomy Lesson by Nina Siegal
Gilead by Marilyn Robinson
Eleven Pipers Piping by C C Benison
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
Monogram Murders by Agatha Christie
The Handsome Man's Deluxe Cafe by Alexander McCall Smith
The Christmas Wedding Ring by Susan Mallery
Ho-Ho-Homicide by Kaitlyn Dunnett
Murder and Moonshine by Carol Miller
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche
China Dolls by Lisa See
In Praise of Doubt by Peter Berger
Degrees of Allegiance by Petra DeWitt
J S Bach's Johanine Theology by Eric Chafe
The Manger is Empty by Walter Wangerin
Questions of Faith by Peter Berger
Documentation by Robert Hauptman
Michaelangelo: A Life in Six Masterpieces by Miles Unger
Pegasus Descending by James L Burke
Some Luck by Jane Smiley
No Place to Hide by Glen Greenwald

Monday, December 1, 2014

China Dolls by Lisa See

I picked up China Dolls because I had enjoyed Lisa See's breathtaking novel Snow Flower and the Secret Fan set in the exotic world of traditional nineteenth-century China, and the more recent Shanghai Girls and Dreams of Joy, which chronicle the lives of two sisters caught up in China's perilous leap to modernity. In China Dolls, three women of Asian descent but very different backgrounds become friends as they struggle to work as nightclub and stage performers in San Francisco in the years just before and during World War II. Personally, although the book was interesting as light reading material, I didn't find it to be as richly detailed or emotionally satisfying as the other novels.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Miriam’s Way by Cissy Lacks

This is the story of 13 year-old Miriam Kornitsky’s courageous five-year survival in the forests of White Russia. The year is 1941 and her father insists that she and her older cousin Sonia hide in the forest from the advancing German soldiers. He warns her to trust no one. Her cousin is shot and killed when they ventured out of the forest to find food and water. Now on her own, Miriam relies on the survival lessons her father taught her as a young child. During the summers she survives on berries, weeds and tubers. In the winter she ventures out to find molasses cubes in barns outside the forest never staying long enough to get caught.  At first she finds plenty of clothing from the dead who did not escape the repeated firing from German soldiers on the ground and from above. 

After five years in the forest Miriam discovers that the war is over. She is befriended by a young Russian girl whose family nurses her back to health. Few people who escaped into the Polish and Russian forests survived but Miriam did.  Her determination to live is a wonderful testament to the human spirit.  This is a heartwarming story for both teens and adults.  In the late 1950’s Miriam and her husband settled in St. Louis where she lives today.

Martha Henderson/Meramec

Friday, November 7, 2014

How to Read a Book

     For over two decades this book has sat on my shelf with a bookmark sticking out the top. I got about a third of the way through. I was too busy--reading.  Adler and van Doren's book is a true classic. It first appeared in 1940 and continues in print, with subsequent revised editions. I'm sure there is sage advice here. After all, these were the guys who came out with The Great Books of the Western World series. Topics such as "Levels of Reading," "How to Be a Demanding Reader," and "How to Read Philosophy" are covered.



Human nature being what it is, though, we all have our own ways of doing things and too often we think our way is superior. (Maybe that's why I didn't finish Adler and van Doren?) So, I offer here my own "How to Read a Book."  (Don't feel bad if you don't finish reading this blog post.) Disclaimer: I have FDD--Fiction Deficit Disorder, so this method is skewed toward non-fiction.
1) Consume caffeine steadily while reading; it aids comprehension. Coffee or tea for non-fiction, Coke for literary fiction, Mountain Dew for all other fiction. Save wine for your book group.
2) Sit comfortably.
3) Sit beneath good lighting.
4) Use three bookmarks: one for your place, one for your place in the Endnotes, and one for your place in the Bibliography.  No Endnotes and Bibliography? Choose a different book.
5) Read the Introduction. (Have you skipped an Introduction at some point in your life? Then, if Catholic or Eastern Orthodox, read five long Introductions for penance; if Episcopalian or Lutheran, tell your best friend you once skipped an Introduction and move on. All other Protestants: try not to wallow in guilt. If Jewish, this is a non-issue; you always read Introductions--as do Unitarians, Agnostics, and Atheists.  All other world religions: just try to get in the habit.)
6) Read the Bibliography. If you own the book, place a checkmark by those items you have already read. Place a line by those you would like to read. Don't forget to refer to this two years later when you are in a dry spell and can't find a good book to read.
7) Minimize background noise, although either the Chopin Nocturnes or John Rutter's Requiem are suitable for evening reading. Slow jazz is a distraction--especially for non-literary fiction.
8) If you own the book, underline salient points or quotable material. Then note the page number in the back of the book with a word or phrase to jog your memory a decade later.
9) If you do not own the book, take notes on either college rule notebook paper (wide rule is unacceptable; it makes you look elementary, my dear Watson) or on cheap printer paper. Save your 100% cotton rag for serious letters or people you want to impress.
10) If consuming food while reading, use a book weight. This allows you to read "hands free"--at least for a couple pages, avoiding accidents. The book weight is to reading what the blow dryer is to hair styling.
11) If you thoroughly enjoyed the book, send the author a "thank you" note. Sometimes they will write back. Two notes tucked in their books I particularly appreciated were from Joseph Epstein and Fritz Stern. (If you're really lucky, when the author passes on, you can auction the note at Sotheby's and retire early. Note: this should not be your sole or even main motive for expressing gratitude.)
12) If it is a truly outstanding tome, look for the author's e-mail address, either in the book or online and send an e-mail of gratitude. You will have made someone's day brighter and often will receive a reply. Here is an example:

Thanks  for the compliment, and may all of  the books you read be golden.  S0
From: Brazeal, Jana S. []
Sent: Friday, July 20, 2012 10:20 AM
To: Ozment, Steven
Subject: Thank you
Dear Prof. Ozment,
Thank you very much for your excellent and accessible scholarship. I have read, with pleasure, about five of your books over the years—beginning with Age of Reform. I am currently reading A Mighty Fortress and I’m looking forward to reading your book about Luther and Cranach.
You have given the gift of intellectual enjoyment to a Reference Librarian in St. Louis, MO.
Vielen Dank!
Jana Proske Brazeal

The above method does not pretend to be comprehensive nor "The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading" ala Adler and van Doren, but it is a lot shorter than their 419-pages of How to Read a Book.  May all the books you read be feasts for the mind and soul.