Friday, May 21, 2010

bookfinds @ Kittling: Books

Phoenix is playing around with its first 100°F. day, and Denis has been busy making sure the pool is ready for summer. Maybe once I'm ensconced in my summer reading spot my book consumption will rise. I'm not in a reading slump; I just seem to be very easily distracted by almost everything, including Denis's change of shift at work and in a big needlepoint project I have created for myself.

You know how I've said that I've purchased books and then not read them for more than a decade? Well, with this needlepoint project, I'm using yarn that I bought thirty years ago (and never touched). Looking at the price tags on the skeins, I would imagine that I'd be paying a tad more if I were to buy my supplies today!

Anyway, that's got nothing to do with the books I've found and added to my wish list within the past week. Wait a mo while I drag myself back on topic!

Here's what became part of my wish list this week. Do any of these titles tickle your fancy? Click on the book cover if you want more information.

At Home in France by Ann Barry.
"Not every writer who owns a house in France publishes a book about its pleasures and pains. Even among such owners, Barry, a food and travel writer and former editor at the New Yorker and the New York Times, is exceptional, because she does not actually live in her house in Carennac, a village in southwestern France near the Dordogne; she only visits it for two or three weeks a year. When she is there, she reads, jogs, cooks, hosts friends from home and explores the nearby regions. Because her visits are so short, her experiences in her village seem confined to finding a neighbor to keep her keys for her and someone to garage her car while she's away, and food shopping at wonderful country markets. She writes grippingly about her search for the best bread and vividly profiles familiar native types with whom she is acquainted."

Living Among Headstones: Life in a Country Cemetery by Shannon Applegate.
"In 1997, Shannon Applegate was bequeathed a small cemetery in western Oregon. The neglected five acres were not only the burial site for generations of her family but also the designated resting ground for many in the nearby, down-on-its-luck logging town. Living Among Headstones chronicles the author’s experiences as she takes charge of this sacred land and finds herself plotting graves, consoling families, and confronting the funeral industry.Filled with humor, singular events, pathos, and unexpected smiles, the pages offer historical asides and moving personal stories. For example, Shannon explores the language and customs of funerals as she agonizes over how to approach families who have covered graves with plastic flowers and inappropriate ornaments. In doing so, she contemplates the myriad ways cultures past and present approach the dead."

Wild Comfort: The Solace of Nature by Kathleen Dean Moore.
"In an effort to make sense of the deaths in quick succession of several loved ones, Kathleen Dean Moore turned to the comfort of the wild, making a series of solitary excursions into ancient forests, wild rivers, remote deserts, and windswept islands to learn what the environment could teach her in her time of pain. This book is the record of her experience. It’s a stunning collection of carefully observed accounts of her life—tracking otters on the beach, cooking breakfast in the desert, canoeing in a snow squall, wading among migrating salmon in the dark—but it is also a profound meditation on the healing power of nature. In the wonder of the rush of water over rocks, in the joy over the sight of a cougar in a cow field, Moore finds the solace that comes from connection to the natural world, and from that astonishingly intimate connection arise hope and courage, healing and gratitude."

The Almond Picker by Simonetta Agnello Hornby.
"A family saga, Sicilian style. The tale opens with the death of the woman Mennulara, whose name in Sicilian dialect means the almond picker. And so she was in her youth, trying to support an impoverished and sickly family. Before her death, Mennu, who had been in service to the matriarch of the Alfallipe family since she was 13, leaves cryptic instructions for the squabbling and disagreeable family. Hornby tells her story by spiraling back through Mennu's hard life. In the process, she emerges as a kind of secular saint, not only caring for her own family and the Alfallipes but also learning to read, overseeing the household accounts, managing investments, studying local archaeology and music, and even having secret ties to the Mafia and to the family."

Hildegarde Withers: Uncollected Riddles by Stuart Palmer.
"Hildegarde Withers, the creation of Stuart Palmer (1905-1968), is the original schoolmarm detective. After she first appeared in The Penguin Pool Murder in 1931, she was so popular that a series of movies starring Edna Mae Oliver and James Gleason followed, and Palmer wrote short stories about Miss Withers for Mystery, a slick-paper magazine sold only in Woolworth's stores between 1933 and 1935. These stories, filled with the sights and sounds of New York during the depression – museums, flea-circuses, burlesque shows, Latin gigolos – are genuine forgotten classics. The introduction is by Stuart Palmer's widow, Jennifer Venola."

Indian Country Noir edited by Sarah Cortez and Liz Martinez.
"Step into Indian Country. Enter the dark welter of troubled history throughout the Americas, where the heritage of violence meets the ferocity of intent. Features brand-new stories by: Mistina Bates, Jean Rae Baxter, Lawrence Block, Joseph Bruchac, David Cole, Reed Farrel Coleman, O'Neil De Noux, A.A. Hedge Coke, Gerard Houarner, Liz Martínez, R. Narvaez, Kimberly Roppolo, Leonard Schonberg, and Melissa Yi."

I have to admit that the cover of this one is what caught my eye. It makes me think of Monument Valley and the writing of Tony Hillerman.

What about you? Have you read any of these titles? Which ones? Which ones look good enough for your own wish lists? Do tell!


  1. I haven't read any of these books. The ones that appeal to me are At Home in France, Wild Comfort: The Solace of Nature and Indian Country Noir - quite a mixture!

    On the topic of unfinished projects, I have quite a few from years ago too. Mine are cross-stitch either kits or designs that I've accumulated. I keep wanting to buy new ones but I have more will power over buying them than I do over buying more books. I wish I could read and stitch at the same time!

    I can't stitch in hot weather either.

  2. I can certainly understand the distractions of early summer Cathy - you have to gear yourself up for that kind of heat! As for 30-year old yarn you've made me feel quite good about my 10-year old cross stitch project that people have stopped asking me if I'm ever going to finish - what they don't know is that I bought the pattern (while on a trip to San Francisco) and the cotton (when I returned home) and haven't yet stitched a single stitch - it's a rather ambitious pattern that will take me a good long while and I just haven't had the energy to start.

  3. One of my mottos (as a bookseller) is that ANY book you've not yet read is a new book! Enjoy them all, and have fun with the needlepoint -- a hobby I need to take up again one of these days.

  4. Oh my goodness -- I can' afford to visit your site; you simply suggest too many good books :)

    I have immediately reserved Wild Comfort and At Home in France. I sure the library has them available soon.

    For some reason I just now noticed your "new" Reader's Artist and I LOVE this painting.

  5. Living Among the Headstones and Wild Comfort appeal to me. I've been casually researching cemeteries and headstones for years. And I'm a nature lover who I think would do the same thing in that situation.

    I started a sweater last winter but got off on something else. Can't knit when it's hot, so I guess it'll get finished next fall, I hope. When I saw 100 degrees for Phoenix today, I remembered our July trips there when I was a kid. Can't take it!

  6. Living Among Headstones looks really interesting! I have a friend who's a funeral director who I'm definitely going to recommend it to.

  7. Most of those books look good to me. The ones that stand out are At Home in France and Wild Comfort. Great finds!

  8. Margaret-- I know exactly what killed most of my crafts: my computer. Now that I'm stitching while watching television, it's not so bad. I don't know why I got into the habit of just sitting there while Denis and I watch!

    Bernadette-- Sounds like a retirement project to me! ;)

    Eleanor-- I think the Internet threw many hobbies into tailspins, which is a shame. I'm just as guilty as anyone else.

    Molly-- But I'd miss you if you didn't visit!!!

    Barbara-- I used to go out with my grandmother and mother to transcribe all the information from headstones in forgotten cemeteries, which is why that book appealed to me, and I have done the same thing as the author of Wild Comfort. My mother used to knit afghans, so she didn't stitch much during the summer. What I do can be done regardless of season.

    Carina-- Good! :)

    Kathy-- I thought of you when I found At Home in France. :)

  9. This comment doesn't have anything to do with your books, but I am curious as to where you found your nostalgic pics you use for some of your memes?

  10. Kim-- Seems to me that I put in phrases like 1940s pin-ups, 1910s pin-ups, etc. in the search engine and then just looked through the results. Hope that helps.


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