Thursday, 30 December 2010

. Of making many books there is no end

Our fabulous Sarasota County (FL) Libraries uses an automated checkout system by which receipts are issued when book are borrowed.

I kept all my receipts for 2010 and thereby discovered that I borrowed and read 54 books during the year.  One a week is not too shabby!

I major in history and biography.  This year I’ve read some biographies of fabulous women whose lives inspire me.  They include Catherine the Great of Russia, Queen Elizabeth I of England, Queen Anne (legally the first Queen of the United Kingdom).

Equally if not more inspiring have been the biographies of Anne Hutchinson (a woman who defied the male leadership of the Massachusetts Bay Colony);  of Ida Tarbell, a remarkable investigative journalist;  and of Dorothy Parker – an American ”wit” but much, much more than simply a “wit”.

In fiction I have been engrossed with the works of the great Willa Cather. I enjoyed “Death comes to the Archbishop”, (it is one of her finest novels), but her “My Antonia” charmed me even more.

I learned a great deal from a biography of the one and only Confederate States of America President – Jefferson Davis; and of the ghastly English fascist and H-tler sycophant Diane Mosley.

One a lighter side I giggled my way through “The finer points of sausage dogs”, and “Portuguese irregular verbs”, together with “At the Villa of Reduced Circumstances”: each by Alexander McCall Smith.

(I purchased but one book this year, using a Barnes and Noble gift card which had been given me at Christmas 2009.  It was a sweet book, also by Alexander McCall Smith, entitled “La’s Orchestra Saves the World”. Having enjoyed this book immensely I sent it  to my Pittsfield friend Gwen Sears, asking that she would read it and then pass it on to yet another person.  My hope was that person after person would read the book, write her or his name on the title page, and then “pass it on again”.  I wonder if this has happened.)

Earlier this month I read the story of an Iranian dissident, Zarah Ghanramani.  It’s an astonishing and haunting tale of a young woman who defied the current and ghastly Iranian regime.  The book is entitled “My life as a traitor”. It should be a “must read” for those who, like I, are deeply committed to progressive feminism.

Back in September I was browsing the library shelves for some fiction by Taylor Caldwell.   I selected “God’s Little Acre”. ‘Twas  only when I got home that I realised that  I’d selected the wrong Caldwell.   My book was by Erskine Caldwell.  It’s searing novel (published in 1933) about the industrialisation of the “South”. 

This 77 year old novel is at the top of my 2010 “favourite reading” list.
Despite the warning of the biblical book “Ecclesiastes” (see the above  title for this entry), 

I will be back at the Library in early 2011.

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