Reading Diary

Revisiting America

Inda Lou Lambert Schell w/Janie Leona Lambert Gass—2014—Writerspace Publishing

When Lou Schell and her husband Fletcher first read Charles Kuralt’s America back in the late 1990s, the two were captivated by the stories of the travels, the variety of small towns he visited, and the fascinating people he met along the way. The Schells began planning their own dream trip: a year-long odyssey tracing Kuralt’s route around the country…Fletcher’s sudden death put an end to that dream for awhile, yet Lou couldn’t shake the feeling that this was trip she was supposed to take. At the age of seventy-nine, Lou Schell…would be spending the next year traveling America. You will also get to eavesdrop as she makes friends from New Orleans to Taos, and Boothbay Harbor, Maine, to Ketchikan, Alaska, ultimately proving to everyone who hears her story that it’s never too late to follow your dream.

Started reading December 2, 2019

How to Make an American Quilt

Whitney Otto—1991—Random House, Inc.

The novel is a verbal quilt worked in luminous prose. Seven sets of quilting instructions, touching on the evolution of this domestic art in American history, bind together the stories of the members of a contemporary quilting group in the small town of Grasse on the outskirts of Bakersfield, CA. We come to know these women as they experience betrayal, loss, and misunderstanding, only to find, in the end, friendship, forgiveness, and love at the least likely moments.

Read November 27-December 1, 2019.

This was a short, but good read. The novel sparked the movie of the same name, which is what drew me to the book. The movie version takes its cues from Otto’s story, but offers a little more depth into the characters—as it should. I enjoyed reading how the writer tied the quilt instructions into the story of each character, or should I say how they were woven in. Although I prefer to read the book before watching the movie, I can say both offered something different as Finn’s character is barely mentioned in the novel.

Ellen Degeneres: Seriously…I’m kidding.

Ellen DeGeneres—2011—Grand Central Publishing

Welcome to my third book. Inside this book you will find an assortment of wonderful thingswords, pictures, advice, tidbits, morsels, shenanigans, and, in some copies, four hundred dollars cash. So you might want to buy a few.

Read November 22-27, 2019

One cannot help but hear Ellen’s voice as you read through her book. The randomness and butterfly-like flight her thoughts traveled kept me laughing, even if it was difficult to follow along sometimes. One thing she is consistent on is her kindness, generosity, and empathy toward everyone she encounters—this is evident even in her writing.

Dear Fahrenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks

Annie Spence—2017—Flatiron Books

In Dear Fahrenheit 451, librarian Annie Spence has crafted love letters and breakup notes to both the iconic and the eclectic books she has encountered over the years. From her breakup letter to The Giving Tree (a dysfunctional relationship book if there ever was one) to her love letter to the The Time Traveler’s Wife (a novel less about time travel and more about the life of a marriage, with all of its ups and downs). Spence will make you think of old favorites in a new way.

Read November 1-18, 2019.

This is a must read for anyone who not only loves books, but appreciates libraries. Annie Spence is truly offering thoughtful insight into each book with every letter. My To-Read list has grown due to Spence’s personification of each book, or in some cases, book collections. I love her wit, snark, and sentimentality when it comes to books that leave an everlasting impression—whether good or bad. And, she’ll make you behave better at the library.

etta and otto and russell and james

Emma Hooper—2015—Simon & Schuster

Otto finds the note left by his wife in the kitchen of their farmhouse in windswept Saskatchewan. Eighty-three-year-old Etta will be walking 3,200 kilometers to see the ocean, but somehow Otto understands. He took his own journey once before, to fight in a faraway land. With Etta gone, Otto struggles with his demons of war, while their friend Russell pursues the woman he has loved from afar. And James—well, James you have to meet on the page.

Read October 29 – 31, 2019

I loved, loved, loved this story. It got confusing at first because the writer not only skips in between the characters, but skips back-and-forth through time. We’ve all at one point or another wanted to get away—just take off on our own and explore. Etta does just that—while in her eighties! Every character is endearing, especially James (which I won’t spoil for you readers). You wouldn’t think there is anything too complex in their personalities as you read along, but once you finish the story, there’s a realization of their individual complexity. Emma Hooper writes simply and beautifully, offering a depth of character with both Etta and Otto—I miss them already and want more. I must also mention in that being an American, it’s always fun to read the work from other countries. Even though Canada is our neighbor, the culture is obviously different and I learned a few things—and not just how many kilometers are in a mile.

Almost Golden: Jessica Savitch and the Selling of Television News

Gwenda Blair—1988—Simon & Schuster

A network anchor at thirty-one, Jessica Savitch came up on the fast rack in the hectic, hard-driving world of television news. Ambitious, beautiful and intelligent, she had the kind of on-screen charisma that boosted ratings, turned her into one of the most trusted people in America and made her a candidate for the network’s most sought-after spot: the main anchor chair on the nightly news. But by the time of her accidental death in 1993, Jessica Savitch—plagued by drugs, depression and disastrous romances—had already lost her race for the top. Almost Golden is her story, a compelling personal drama and an unsettling behind-the-scenes look at television news, a world where the quest for celebrity and the values of journalism often collide.

Read October 14 – 28, 2019.

I’ve always been fascinated by the inner workings of production whether it be television or film. This book really broadened my knowledge of the news media industry and all involved from the beginning of broadcast journalism via radio. Gwenda Blair did an excellent job in her research and expository writing. I appreciated the background and insight into the drive Jessica Savitch had to become a news anchor. Although it is a tragic story, we have the benefit of looking at her path and determining where and what she did wrong. We don’t get that in life and as the saying goes…hindsight is 20/20. Jessica’s goal didn’t really seem to be a TV news journalist, but rather a TV news starand that she did. If she seemed difficult to deal with, a lot stemmed from the limitations women had in pursuing any career, other than that of a secretary. I highly recommend reading this if (a) you love biographies; and (b) you want to break into broadcast journalism. Women can learn from Jessica’s mistakes and take advantage of her strategies. Her story haunts me even days after I’ve finished reading as I can appreciate the never-ending drive to achieve your goals and the obstacles that sometimes prevent them.

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