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winter 2013-14 075

When I began writing this diary on Saturday, the sun was shining fiercely high in the sky and it was nearly five PM.  The evening before, I heard the birds singing valiantly and cheerfully.

Could the Groundhog be wrong?  Well, for Michigan, probably not.  There have been years with an early spring so I can always hope for it, but even with more snow coming (and ice pellets?) the forecast of 39 degrees this week is heartening.  Winter’s back may not be broken, but the light is staying longer and signs of spring will show up here and there promising the end of the long white roads and ice heavy trees.

It brings to mind cheerful books.  I do understand that some books can be too cheery and too cozy, but that refreshing warm breeze from a book where friendships flourish always draws me in.  Like a fire on hearth where a story teller holds children in thrall or a table in a warm kitchen where people are drinking coffee, the general sense of well being makes a book refreshing.  

The author squashes people over on the bench and makes room for me the reader.

Bellwether by Connie Willis that I finished reading last week was this type of book.  The underlying question of the story is about how fads start and why almost everyone becomes a copy cat in short order.  What kind of folks resist fads? Can a fad be predicted or promoted?  The story has every thing that makes it a fun read…the promoted evil doer, the mysterious capable assistant, romance, and sheep.  If you missed it when it first came out as I did, find it and enjoy a romp.  It is still very much on topic.  

Despite the seriousness of some books I often find there are fun things going on as well.  In Alcott’s Little Women there are plays, snowball fights and balls.  In Dicken’s Great Expectations, there is the Aged Parent.  In Harry Potter there is Quidditch and dinner at the Weasley’s home.  

I have mentioned before the mystery series by Spencer Quinn with Chet the dog as the narrator.  I smile just mentioning the stories.  Chet almost made it through the Canine School, but at the last moment there was an episode with a cat that is better left unmentioned.  Bernie, who Chet says is no slouch, defends Chet after his minor mistakes and Chet is loyal.  The books are fun to read.

  Dog On It (2009)  
  Thereby Hangs a Tail (2010)
  To Fetch a Thief (2010)
  The Dog Who Knew Too Much (2011)
  A Fistful of Collars (2012)  
  The Sound and the Furry

Paw and Order is coming in August.

Many years ago Elizabeth Scarborough made me laugh with her fantasy series:

Songs from the Seashell Archives Vol. I
        Song of Sorcery
        Unicorn Creed

I also enjoyed The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 ¾ by Sue Townsend.

The Irish RM by Somerville and Ross is also entertaining.

Molly Ivins…anything.  Bushwhacked and You Got to Dance with Them What Brung You are two of hers I liked.

James Herriot’s series that begins with All Creatures Great and Small will keep you in smiles even through the serious parts.

Other fun reads that have made me smile:

As You Like It by Shakespeare  

Bill Bryson takes A Walk in the Woods

Peter Beagle visits A Fine and Private Place
Three Bags Full by Leonie Swann with sheep Maple, Othello, Mopple the Whale, Melmoth, George, Zora, Rebecca Flock who solve the mystery.

Twain’s Adventures of Tom Sawyer

All of Donald Westlake’s Dortmunder series, but esp. the short story “Too Many Crooks” found in his Thieve’s Dozen.

Wicked John and the Devil in Grandfather’s Tales by Richard Chase


video of RC telling the story


Patrick F. McManus’ collected short stories:

A Fine and Pleasant Misery (1978)
They Shoot Canoes, Don't They? (1981)
Never Sniff A Gift Fish (1983)
The Grasshopper Trap (1985)
Rubber Legs and White Tail-Hairs (1987)
The Night the Bear Ate Goombaw (1989)

The Ransom of Red Chief by O. Henry


The Bear Went Over the Mountain by William Kotzwinkle

The Elfin Ship by Blaylock

Lindsey Davis’ Falco stories…Falco’s funny comments lighten up the stories.

I have a Wodehouse on my TBR pile to re-read if I stop being mad at the author.  I have fallen behind in Evanovich’s stories.

What fun books are on your list?  

Diaries of the Week:

Write On! Books about writing redux.
by SensibleShoes

Can’t Forget, Won’t Forget: 18 February 1943
by Diana in NoVa

Contemporary Fiction Views: Extending readerly sympathy
by bookgirl

Dignity in Education (Part 2)
by Robert Fuller

Robert Fuller says:

Chapter 43 of The Rowan Tree "nobodies can change" is up.

In which Adam realizes the benefits of being a nobody...


The whole novel is still free on Kindle:


is still only free on Smashwords:


Please feel free to request a price match for the Kindle version, though!

NOTE: plf515 has book talk on Wednesday mornings early

Originally posted to Readers and Book Lovers on Wed Feb 19, 2014 at 05:00 PM PST.

Also republished by Progressive Friends of the Library Newsletter.


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