Friday, January 01, 2016

My 2015 Reading List

Another year has past, and it's time to share the books I read in 2015.  This year I participated in the Good Reads Reading Challenge.  At the beginning of the year I decided that I would try to read 60 books.  I knew at the time that it was probably a conservative estimate, and that I would try to surpass that, which I did, big time.  I have a list of 92 books, with a few of those being books I re-read for my monthly book discussion group at the library. 

I enjoyed most of the books, but there were a few stinkers.  A few books I found exceptional I would highly recommend Being Mortal by Atul Gawande as being an essential book for anyone who's planning on getting old and dying someday.  Or for anyone who's going to at some point face the issue of aging and dying parents.  Other non-fiction standouts include The Boys in the Boat by Daniel Green, and The Prize: Who's in Charge of America's Schools by Dale Russakoff.  

There were also several fiction titles that I really enjoyed.  I'd not read Kate Morton before, but read her latest, The Lake House, which reminded me a bit of The Thirteenth Tale.  I also finally got around to reading Jojo Moyes, One Plus One, and will definitely read more of her works.  One of my favorites was The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins.  A fast-paced, gripping thriller, I thought it lived up to the hype. I also discovered a local mystery writer - Laura DiSilverio is a retired Air Force Intelligence officer who lives in nearby Colorado Springs.  Her mysteries feature spunky detectives with interesting lives.  I've read three of her series, and her one stand-alone, and enjoyed them all.

I could go on, but time and space preclude me from going into too much detail.  If you'd like to know more about a particular book, just let me know. I love discussing books as much as I enjoy reading them.  Happy New Year, and have a great year full of love and books.

Here's the list: 
1.       Smith, Alexander McCall     The Handsome Man's DeLuxe CafĂ©                        
2.       Penny, Louise                      The Long Way Home                                                                       
3.       Strout, Elizabeth                The Burgess Boys                                                                              
4.       Strout, Elizabeth                Amy and Isabelle                                                                              
5.       Hawkins, Paula                   The Girl on the Train                                                                         
6.       Larson, Erik                           In the Garden of Beasts                                                                  
7.       Gaffigan, Jim                        Food: A Love Story                                                                           
8.       Gawande, Atul                    Being Mortal                                                                                       
9.       Anderson, Neal                  The Bondage Breaker                                                                      
10.   MacDonald, Paul                Smile Now, Cry Later                                                                       
11.   Notaro, Laurie                     The Potty Mouth at the Table                                                      
12.   Semple, Maria                     Where'd You Go, Bernadette                                                        
13.   Stengel, Richard                 Mandela's Way                                                                                 
14.   Pickard, Nancy                    The Scent of Rain and Lightning                                                 
15.   Bradley, Alan                       As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust                                         
16.   Pym, Barbara                       No Fond Return of Love                                                                 
17.   Adiga, Aravind                    Last Man in Tower                                                                            
18.   O'Nan, Stuart                       West of Sunset                                                                                   
19.   Martin, Jim                           The Just Church                                                                                 
20.   Manning, Molly Guptill   When Books Went to War                                                             
21.   Hornby, Nick                        Funny Girl                                                                                             
22.   Weaver, Ashley                  Murder at the Brightwell                                                               
23.   Soli, Tatyana                        The Last Good Paradise                                                                  
24.   Shattuck, Susan                  Invisible Ellen                                                                                      
25.   Hannah, Sophie                  The Monogram Murders                                                               
26.   Walter, Hal                           Full Tilt Boogie                                                                                    
27.   Beaton, M.C.                        Death of a Liar                                                                                   
28.   Joyce, Rachel                       The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessey                              
29.   Brannan, Sandra                 In the Belly of Jonah                                                                        
30.   Yates, Richard                      Revolutionary Road                                                                         
31.   McConnon, Aili and Andres       Road to Valor                                                                                     
32.   Alcott, Kate                          A Touch of Stardust                                                                         
33.   Rotert, Rebecca                  Last Night at the Blue Angel                                                         
34.   DiSilverio, Laura                 The Readaholics and the Falcon Fiasco                                    
35.   Tyler, Anne                           A Spool of Blue Thread                                                                   
36.   Blackman, Fredrik              A Man Called Ove                                                                             
37.   DiSilverio, Laura                 Swift Justice                                                                                        
38.   DiSilverio, Laura                 Swift Edge                                                                                            
39.   DiSilverio, Laura                 Swift Run                                                                                              
40.   Bunjevac, Nina                    Fatherland                                                                                           
41.   Berg, Elizabeth                    The Dream Lover                                                                               
42.   DiSilverio, Laura                 Die Buying                                                                                            
43.   Coben, Harlan                     The Stranger                                                                                       
44.   Lutz, Lisa                                How to Start a Fire                                                                           
45.   Brown, Daniel James        The Boys in the Boat                                                                        
46.   Haruf, Kent                           Our Souls at Night                                                                            
47.   Packer, Ann                          The Children's Crusade                                                                   
48.   Tey, Josephine                    To Love and Be Wise                                                                        
49.   Booth, Michael                   The Almost Perfect People                                                            
50.   Gibbs, Chad                          Jesus Without Borders                                                                    
51.   McCreight, Kimberly        Where They Found Her                                                                   
52.   McGuire, Richard               Here                                                                                                        
53.   Todd, Charles                      A Fine Summer's Day                                                                       
54.   Corrigan, Maureen            So We Read On: How the Great Gatsby Came to Be and Why It                                                              Matters
55.   McLain, Paula                      Circling the Sun                                                                                  
56.   McLarty, Ron                        Memory of Running                                                                        
57.   Grisham, John                     Gray Mountain                                                                                  
58.   Ephron, Hallie                     Night, Night, Sleep Tight                                                                
59.   Lee, Harper                           Go Set a Watchman                                                                         
60.   Van  Wagenen, Maya       Popular                                                                                                 
61.   Benson, E.F.                         Mapp and Lucia                                                                                
62.   Marsh, Ngaio                       The Nursing Home Murder                                                           
63.   Moyes, Jojo                          One Plue One                                                                                      
64.   Diament, Anita                   The Boston Girl                                                                                   
65.   Hannah, Sophie                  Woman with a Secret                                                                      
66.   Backman, Fredrik               My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry              
67.   Barrows, Annie                   The Truth According to Us                                                             
68.   Hatmaker, Jen                     For the Love                                                                                        
69.   Bryson, Bill                           A Short History of Nearly Everything                                        
70.   Stegner, Wallace                Crossing to Safety                                                                            
71.   Strout, Elizabeth                Olive Kitteridge                                                                                  
72.   Rusakoff, Dale                     The Prize: Who's in Charge of America's Schools?                 
73.   Lowry, Lois                            The Giver                                                                                              
74.   Karon, Jan                             Come Rain or Come Shine                                                             
75.   Trigiani, Adriana                 All the Stars in the Heavens                                                          
76.   Benjamin, Ali                       The Thing about Jellyfish                                                               
77.   Chance, Maia                       Come Hell or Highball                                                                      
78.   Carlino, Renee                    Before We Were Strangers                                                            
79.   Morton, Kate                       The Lake House                                                                                  
80.   Vowell, Sarah                      Lafayette in the Somewhat United States                              
81.   Steinbeck, John                  The Grapes of Wrath                                                                       
82.   Smith, Alexander McCall    The Woman Who Walked in Sunshine                  
83.   DiSilverio, Laura                 The Readaholics and the Poirot Puzzle                                     
84.   Chandler, Raymond          The Big Sleep                                                                                       
85.   Stradal, J. Ryan                    Kitchens of the Great Midwest                                                    
86.   Keller, Timothy                   Jesus the King                                                                                     
87.   DiSilverio, Laura                 The Reckoning Stones                                                                     
88.   Dallas, Sandra                      Tallgrass                                                                                               
89.   Seitz, Matt Zoller               Mad Men Carousel                                                                          
90.   Kellerman, Harry                Wednesday the Rabbi Got Wet                                                   
91.   Boyle, T.C.                             The Women                                                                                         
92.   Christie, Agatha                  Dead Man's Mirror                                                                           

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Advent and Experiencing God

Our church is presenting a weekly small group series on Advent. Last night was the first session, and the text was Luke 1:1-25, which is the account of the priest Zechariah, and the news from the Angel Gabriel that he and his wife Elizabeth will soon have a son. This son will become John the Baptist, who was to prepare the people of Israel for the arrival of the Lord Jesus Christ. Zechariah and Elizabeth are childless, and are also quite advanced in age, so when Zechariah hears this news he questions Gabriel.  As a result, Zechariah is struck mute until the child is born. 

Having grown up in the church, I've heard this story hundreds of times, but God always has a way of teaching me something new about His Word. One thing that I learned from this passage is that God is faithful. Zechariah and Elizabeth had probably been praying for many years for a child, yet remained childless. Finally, when they had most likely given up all hope, they are blessed with a child. As Gabriel tells Zechariah, "Your prayer has been heard."  God heard the prayers of Zechariah and Elizabeth, and answered them in His perfect timing. How many times I've prayed, and when my prayers weren't immediately answered given up, assuming that God didn't care or was too busy with more important things. This passage shows me that God does hear our prayers and answers them in His own time. It reminds me that I have such a small view of God's Kingdom; yet God, who is omniscient, knows what I need, and when I need it. 

One of the biggest lessons I learned last night is that I often miss the presence of God. Zechariah was alone in the temple offering incense to the Lord when the Angel Gabriel appeared. What a privilege to be in the presence of the Angel of the Lord! Now that we have the Holy Spirit, we are able to be in God's presence at all times.   But how often do I take this for granted?  How often am I too busy to spend time In prayer and reading His Word, and when I do, how many times am I too distracted to focus on Him?  And even more so, how often am I too busy talking to him rather than listening to what He may be telling me?  How many blessings have I missed by not being present to God?

The last lesson I realized last night is the importance of studying God's word with others. While my own individual Bible study is valuable and instructive, it is also beneficial to meet with others to study His Word.  Here is where I learn new things, and gain new insight into the scriptures.  This is one reason why it's impossible to be a Christian without the church, and one reason why the Lord created the church- to teach one another and to build up one another so that we may be ready for Christ's return. 

Friday, August 28, 2015

Twenty-Five Years Ago

Working in the Periodical Room circa 1992
Twenty-five years ago tonight, I walked into the Deerfield Public Library to begin a new job. I'd just spent 4 1/2 years as a preschooler teacher in Evanston, and now that my son was starting Kindergarten I needed a part-time job that would allow me to be home with him after school and during the day at vacation time. I saw ad for a library page, and the hours were perfect- 5-9 Tuesday evenings, and 1-5 every other weekend. After about a month I added Monday evenings to my schedule. 

For me, this was as close to the perfect job as I could get.  I was surrounded by books, and was able to satisfy my sense for order. I quickly remembered the Dewey Decimal System I learned while
working in the Hastings College Library, and became an efficient shelver. I also spent a great deal of time in the Periodical room, fetching magazines and newspapers for students and other researchers.  

After five years working as a page, I was ready to move onto something new. An opening came up for a full time Circulation Assistant, and as my son was now entering fifth grade, I felt it was something we could handle. I enjoyed my time at the Circ Desk, and learned so much about how libraries work. 

After six months at the Circ Desk an opening came up for a Youth Services Library Assistant. I was hired, and moved down there in February of 1996. I knew I was finally where I belonged. It was challenging at first; I had no computer skills, and my knowledge of children's literature was extremely limited. But through perseverance, and by taking stacks of books home every day, I eventually developed the skills needed to succeed. 

In 2000, I finally took the plunge and started working on my Masters in Library Science at Dominican University. Jack Hicks, the Director of the Deerfield Public Library, was especially encouraging in this endeavor, and the library was able to provide some financial assistance, for which I am eternally grateful. 

Going to school while working full time was a challenge, but I loved it, and learned so much. After graduation in 2003 I became a Youth Services Librarian, a job I held until we moved to Maine in 2006. 

Twenty five years ago I had no idea that my part-time job would lead to a lifetime career, and that I would eventually become the Director of a Public Library. I am so thankful that I was able to find a job that not only met our financial needs, but would allow me to use my gifts and talents.  There have been rough patches along the way, but for the most part I have loved working in a Public Library. 

I'm retired now, and whenever I visit my local library I'm reminded of how much libraries mean to me, and am grateful for the opportunity to spend so much of my life in them. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Random Thoughts on a Spring Day

Our Backyard - April 24th
I'll admit that over the past few weeks I've been down in the dumps. It's been cold, I'm missing my friends, and the back pain that my Dr. had diagnosed as "disc slippage" continues to plague me. 

Adding to my dark mood is the fact that our backyard still looks like the surface of the moon. Granted, it looks better than it did last summer when it was overrun with weeds, but I'm so used to my garden in Maine where crocuses and daffodils would be poking through right about now. There's a lot of work to do, and it gets a bit overwhelming at times, but I try to remember the words of a friend, "It's a marathon, not a sprint."

This morning Steve and I dug out the dead arbor vitae bushes, then I went to the library and for a walk.  Near the library is a small pond
The Pond with Walking Path
with a walking path around it.  Next to it is a xeriscape garden that is tended by volunteers.  The volunteers were there today weeding and cleaning up.  

My Turnaround Point
After a couple of loops around the pond I decided to try the paved bike path that runs along McCulloch Boulevard  I walked for about 15 minutes then headed back to my car. This was the view at my turnaround point.

On the way back to the car I started thinking of the past weeks and my dark mood.  I realized that while things aren't always sunshine and skittles here, I do have many things to be thankful for.  I've been richly blessed, and there is much for which to be thankful.  As I walked, I compiled this list:

Grandpa and Grandson
1. Family.  The reason we moved here was to be closer to our son, daughter-in-law, and grandson.  And every day that I get to spend with them is a blessing. My husband is happily retired, and enjoying our new life.
2. Health.  Even though I'm still dealing with slipped discs, I'm in otherwise good health.  And my family is healthy as well.
3. Home.  We had the good fortune to find a lovely home in a quiet, rural area.  There's space for a garden (eventually), and there's plenty of room for guests. It's warm in the winter, cool in the summer, and comfortable year-round.
4. Food.  There's plenty of food in the cupboards, and if I run out I can easily get to the store and get more.  There are places in this world where people can't say that.
5. Faith.  I have the ability to worship God freely.  Again, there are places in this world where this is not possible.

There are so many other things I could list.  Friends, extended family,a long bike ride,  ice-cold watermelon on a hot summer day...

At the xeriscape garden
after my walk.
This morning during my quiet time I read this from Psalm 121: I lift my eyes to the mountains, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.  Psalm 121: 1,2 (NIV)

As I walked on the path today I lifted my eyes to the mountains and remembered where my help came from.  And I was filled with joy.