Thursday, January 4, 2024

#23-Where did the Year of Really Good Reading Go?

 Okay, I would agree Stuff to Read blog has been a little late getting written, but that doesn't mean I haven't been reading. So what better way to start off  2024 than to tell you what's worth your time to read from 2023. I do have to say last year's reading may have tended to be on the noir or dark side but quality is always quality, so here goes.

High school football is King in Denton, Arkansas and Billy Lowe, the star running back, takes out his frustration and hatred for his mother's boyfriend who abuses him constantly, on crushing anyone trying to tackle him. The new football coach, fresh from California and driving the only Prius in truck-loving Denton, is born-again and bent on saving Billy. But when Billy's abuser is found dead in Billy's trailer, he becomes a suspect and the state playoff hopes suffer. Author, Eli Cranor won the EDGAR award for this first novel, Don't Know Tough, and it's worth a read.

Cranor's second novel, Ozark Dogs, presents Vietnam War veteran Jeremiah Fitzjurls, who is raising his high school aged grand-daughter Joanna, inside his high-fenced junkyard/armory while the dreaded Ledfords, notorious meth dealers and fanatical white supremacists, come to collect on Joanna as payment for a long-overdue blood debt. There is football, a drug cartel and weak local law enforcement moving the story forward.

William Kent Krueger offered his latest stand-alone novel, The River We Remember, in 2023 and it is a real winner. Jewel is a small town on the Alabaster River near the Minnesota-Iowa line, racked by the murder of its wealthiest but least-liked citizen, Jimmy Quinn, by shotgun blast, found floating in the river on Memorial Day, 1958. The sheriff, a WW ll survivor, investigates as rumor points to another war veteran Noah Bluestone who is Native American and has returned to Jewel with his Japanese wife. The setting and in-depth characterization of the characters carries this novel to a winning conclusion.

Dennis Lehane's latest Small Mercies takes place in Boston in the scorching summer of 1974, and centers on Irish Mob conflicts, a missing teenaged white girl, and a Black man's murder on the subway track in the days approaching the first day of school integration during the Boston busing crisis. The told through single mother Mary Pat Fennessy, a Southie, whose daughter doesn't return from a night out. Mary Pat starts turning things over in Southie that are better left untouched in this stunning novel.

James McBride follows his 2020 bestseller, Deacon King Kong (One of my all-time favorite books!) with The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store which begins in the 1970s with the discovery of a corpse in the bottom of a well but shifts back to the 1920s and the Black and Jewish community of Chicken Hill in Pottstown PA and the title grocery store and a music hall and the real novel. It features a huge cast trying to save a young Black boy who is deaf from placement in an evil mental institution. Suffice it to say, McBride moves the characters masterfully in this small town as racism is rampant.

Crook Manifesto by Colson Whitehead is the 2023 return to the characters and setting of his 2021 bestseller Harlem Shuffle to be a work of crime fiction and a family saga that takes place in Harlem during three periods: 1971, 1973, and 1976, the year of the America's bicentennial celebration. The three periods display Harlem through the eyes of Ray Carney, a furniture store owner who has numerous connections to gangs, police fixers and other very interesting characters.

I'm finishing Thomas Perry's latest, Hero, and it is way worth a read. Justine Poole, works for a prestigious security company in LA. She becomes the title character when she thwarts a "follow-home" robbery of two elderly figures in the movie industry, shooting two of the five robbers. She is a media star, but the gang leader hires a killer for pay to take revenge and eliminate Justine. The LAPD are somewhat ambivalent about Justine and her company but when bodies around her start falling in the hired killer's wake,Justine and others are fighting back. This is another Perry work that is ultra logical and detailed about crime and its underbelly. 

And lastly, I have the Vanessa Chen novel, The Storm We Made, on top of the reading pile, so watch for a review of that. It sounds very good. Til next time...keep reading.

Saturday, February 25, 2023

 #22- Has It Really Been a Year?     2022 A

Yes, it has and Stuff to Read has fallen way behind. But, I can make up for it quickly in two articles, artfully called 2022 A and 2022 B that will give you a lead on some really good writing worth your time. 2022 A in alphabetical order begins with John Branch's Sidecountry: Tales of Death and Life from the Backroads of Sports. Branch, a NY Times, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist chose 20 of his favorite articles covering such topics as alligator hunting and sky sailing, avalanche skiing with the aftermath, the Dawn Wall climb by Tommy Caldwell and Alex Jorgeson in Yosemite--BTW, an excellent documentary--and an extended essay on the school girls basketball team at a Tennessee reformatory that hasn't won a game in decades. All are wonderfully written pieces about sports we seldom think about.

H.W. Brands latest Our First Civil War: Patriots and Loyalists in the American Revolution goes beyond the history texts to reveal the origins of the split between those loyal to the Crown and Parliament and those opposed who would form the Patriots of the Revolution some years ahead. The interesting emphasis is on the intertwined lives of Washington and Franklin who had their reasons for supporting the Revolution including family squabbles and ambition. Most interesting to me was how this Civil War shifted from the north to the south, especially the Carolinas and Georgia late in the war leading to Yorktown. Another especially good book I've read on the American Revolution in the South is John Buchanan's The Road to Guilford Courthouse: The American Revolution in the Carolinas.

Next up is Gwendoline Brooks bestseller Horse which intertwines four subplots about the world's fastest thoroughbred, Lexington, born and raised in Kentucky in the 1850s by his Black trainer and son, but raced around the South pre-Civil War, a skeleton of a racehorse found in storage in the Smithsonian, an art dealer who is obsessed with an oil painting of a race horse and two young people in Washington who tie the story together. IMHO, I was not satisfied with the book's ending which had that dreaded quick ending, tacked on but all that preceded--the story of Lexington, the racing, the painting is first rate and worth your time.

A.F. Carter's The Yards is a debut definitely worth reading. Baxter is a mid-west, rust belt town on the way down when Git O'Rourke, a single mother holding 2 jobs as an LPN for the sake of her daughter and mother who lives with them, heads out for a night of bar adventure, and maybe sex. She links up with the best of the bar lot, heads to a local motel, has sex, finds the guy unconscious in bed after a dose of heroin, and leaves with his bag of money and a gun. The next morning local police officer Delia Mariola is called to the motel when the guy in bed now has a bullet hole in his forehead. The book moves among Git, Delia and a local crime king as they work out who shot the guy and why and what happens to the money.

And speaking of a shot to the head, the next book under consideration is One Shot Harry by Gary Phillips. His photographer/process server Harry Ingram listens to the police scanner to get his photography leads but a call about a car accident that kills a friend and fellow Korean war veteran leads Harry into some dangerous territory in racially charged 1963 LA. Phillips presents a mystery but one charged with a lot of history and sociology of the times.

Stephen Pyne,an emeritus faculty member at Arizona State in ecology, earth history who served as a wildland firefighter for many years on the north rim of the Grand Canyon has presented what seems a summary of his thinking on the history of homo sapien's impact on earth as seen through the history of fire. When people learned how to manage fire from volcanic events to clear forests for hunting and eventually, agriculture, all was basically in balance. The middle ages leading into the Industrial Revolution changed that as well as how people viewed fire. Now , people have introduced what Pyne terms the Pyrocene when wildfire combines with climate change to create a new world governed by fire. This is an important book based on a career spent in thought.

The final book in 2022A is another non-fiction/novel written by the late Valparaiso U theologian, teacher and author Walter Wangerin entitled The Book of God. It is written as a continuous story beginning with Abraham and his wife receiving new names and a mission from God. The book moves through the old and new Testaments in chapters as the twelve tribes war with each other and all the other inhabitants of what would become the middle east. It was indeed a bloody time but the Old Testament reads like a novel. I need to borrow it again from my library to read the New.

Saturday, February 26, 2022

#21-- 2021 into 2022: Seven Months of Really Good Reading

So, besides hiking, biking, tennis and racquetball, I've enjoyed a good seven months of reading and wanted to share what's really Stuff to Read. Kicking off the list is an old mystery that I've had for about 20 years and re-discovered when I bought the author's latest from 2017, the fifth in a series that began with River of Darkness:: A Novel of Suspense in the Shadow of World War l (1999). This book introduced Inspector John Madden who is a very damaged person after his experiences in the trenches in France during WW l and the deaths of his wife and daughter to the flu epidemic that followed. Madden's 1924-based superiors at Scotland Yard assign him to a multiple murders case in Surrey that appears to be a gang burglary of a country house gone wrong. But Madden doesn't agree after seeing the wounds on the bodies during the autopsy. They appear to be caused by one person using a wartime bayonet. While Madden pursues the killer with the help of the local doctor, a beautiful woman, we are given alternating chapters as the actual murderer prepares his next venture. We are given his history and insight into why he's following the River of Darkness very much in the style of Harris' Silence of the Lambs..

Next in line is Naomi Hirahara's latest, Clark & Division.  Set in 1944 in Chicago's northside, the novel introduces 20 year old Aki Ito and her family who have been released from California's Manzanar camp following Pearl Harbor to live in a Japanese-American community in Chicago with her older sister, Rose. But just as the Ito family is traveling to Chicago, they get word that Rose died when she fell onto the subway tracks .Furthermore, Rose was pregnant and Aki doesn't buy the accident story. The novel carefully presents life in the very segregated community as WW 2 rages and tempers run hot.

Thomas Perry, author of the Butcher's Boy an EDGAR awardwinner in 1983, has a knack for exploring the workings of prison escapes, hired killers and now, The Burglar(2019).Elle Stowell is a young woman with an unconventional profession: burglary. But Elle is no petty thief―with just the right combination of smarts, looks, and skills, she can easily stroll through ritzy Bel Air neighborhoods and pick out the perfect home for plucking the most valuable items. This is how Elle has always gotten by―she is good at it, and she thrives on the thrill. But after stumbling upon a grisly triple homicide while stealing from the home of a wealthy art dealer, Elle discovers that she is no longer the only one sneaking around. Somebody is searching for her. As Elle realizes that her knowledge of the high-profile murder has made her a target, she races to solve the case before becoming the next casualty, using her breaking-and-entering skills to uncover the truth about exactly who the victims were and why someone might have wanted them dead.

Colson Whitehead, author of The Underground Railroad and The Nickel Boys authored another great novel last year with The Harlem Shuffle. Ray Carney, a Black man and furniture store owner in 1959-1964 Harlem strives to support his growing family, maybe raise himself in his father-in-laws eyes, and try to turn his crime inclined cousin around. But Ray also is known to take the occasional piece of jewelry, tv, or fancy houseware in "trade" and move it along to a local fence. All is going reasonably well in Ray's life until his cousin joins a gang wanting to knock over the Hotel Theresa-- the Waldorf of Harlem-- and the wrong stuff gets stolen. Ray must use all his skills to avoid the real mafia and corrupt cops as the story moves along. 

Wm. Kent Krueger's 18th novel in his Cork O'Connor series is almost a stand alone as Krueger works the territory he so successfully opened in his novels Ordinary Grace (a 2014 EDGAR award winner) and This Tender Land (2019), another award winning bestseller. Lightning Strike is the prequel to the Cork O'Connor series as Cork, a 12 year old in 1963 Aurora MN, finds the body of one of his heroes hanging from a tree in the deep forest near Iron Lake. Cork's father, the sheriff, is expected to agree with the view that the death of the Ojibwe leader was suicide. But Cork and his dad aren't easily led so they work independently and together to get to the truth. BTW-- Krueger will finally be coming to Loveland on Monday, April 11 for a Loveland Loves 2 Read program on the three mentioned books and his career in writing.

Silvia Garcia-Moreno, best selling author of Mexican Gothic, has produced a novel viewing the 1970s student protests and government crushing of revolt in Velvet was the Night. Maite, a 30 something secretary in a Mexico City law firm, lives lonely and carless in an apartment with her mother's constant criticism and only the latest issue of Secret Romance magazine to give her any relief. El Elvis is a 20 something escapee from rural poverty working as a thug for El Mago and his Hawks who are a government supported group sent to break up demonstrations and deliver bodily damage to the student demonstrators. Their paths move in parallel as Leonora, a neighbor of Maite, leaves her cat and a key to her apartment and disappears. Leonora, has a roll of undeveloped film of the Hawks and police beating students and many parties would like access to it. Elvis follows Maite and discovers that they have a lot in common, hence the title.

Finally, for my post-holiday, non-fiction reading, my daughter gifted me a copy of the 1619 Project, edited by Nikole Hannah-Jones. Like last year's Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson, this book is big, 624 pages and it deals with the painful  discussion of slavery, the Civil War, Reconstruction, the Jim Crow era and life into the late 20th and early 21st centuries. The 1619 book is eighteen chapters, each researched, footnoted and written by a different scholar on subjects like politics, music, sugar industry, diet, traffic, and citizenship to capitalism, religion, and our democracy itself. The book is a clear, connected review of US History in the many chapters, stories, poems and photos that reveal the past and present pain that originated in this country when that first ship carrying slaves from Africa landed in Virginia.

Thursday, July 8, 2021

#20  Winter into Summer 2021--Vaccinated and Reading Like Crazy

So, it's been six months or so since I updated the waiting world on what has been worthwhile  to read. Christmas brought a gift from my daughter of Barak Obama's first volume of biography, A Promised Land, which weighed in at 700 pages and basically covered his first two years in office. There are returns to his boyhood on Hawaii and his education as he gradually moved into local then state and national politics. The book is very conversational as he talks about his family and especially his wife Michelle and his daughters. He maintains the tone which is highly readable when talking about politicians and world leaders, but he really gets into the detail of the BIG issues of his first two years, namely the worldwide financial collapse of 2008-9 and the Affordable Care Act-Obamacare. If you were not a poli sci major in college you might wish for some serious editorial oversight on topics like these but his writing about foreign policy,especially the hunt for Osama Bin Laden are edge of seat reading. I'd recommend it regardless of political leanings as the writing of a very smart man.

Another earlier gift from my daughter got read as I racked up miles all winter on the recumbent bicycle downstairs. The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson was truly a transformational book for me as she pursued in vast historical scope (she interviewed more than 1,000 people) of the Great Migration of Black Americans from the Jim Crow South of the 1920s to the 1970s, focusing on three people--  Ida Mae Gladney, who in 1937 left sharecropping and prejudice in Mississippi for Chicago, where she achieved quiet blue-collar success and, in old age, voted for Barack Obama when he ran for an Illinois Senate seat ; sharp and quick-tempered George Starling, who in 1945 fled Florida orange groves and potential lynching for Harlem and work as a Pullman porter on the NYC to Florida train, saw his family fall, and finally found peace in God ; and Robert Foster, who left Louisiana in 1953 to pursue a medical career in the military and in Los Angeles, the personal physician to Ray Charles as part of a glitteringly successful medical career, which allowed him to purchase a grand home but exposed him to Vegas gambling and the horses. This book helped me better understand my years growing up in the Calumet Region and news from Chicago on red-lining, race riots and the protests.

A third book by a Black author that I enjoyed immensely was J. Drew Lanham's  The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man's Love Affair with Nature which is set in the southwestern corner of South Carolina near Augusta GA. It is the story of his boyhood and family as seen through the lenses of history and nature as he presents the history of the Lanham name originating with a great, great grandfather , a slave in the late 1790s working on the Lanham plantation, tracing down to his grandmother and father living in the Jim Crow south. But equally important are the lessons he learned observing nature on the family's wild lands that led him to college and a Wildlife Ecology professorship at Clemson University. Now retired Lanham still revels in ornithology but he's very aware of his surroundings.

And speaking of the South, we made our first trip of the Covid years to North and South Carolina in late April, May and toured the Kings Mountain National Military Park on the NC/SC border. The Park Ranger strongly recommended  a the book to read to understand the Revolutionary War fought in the South, specifically the Carolinas. and he was right though the 400 pages were somewhat daunting.  The Road to Guilford Courthouse: The American Revolution in the Carolinas opens with the 1776 Battle of Sullivan’s Island where Patriot forces successfully defended the Charleston Harbor and concludes with the British victory at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse in 1781. While these two events bookend this military history, the meat of the work is a battle-by-battle march through the skirmishes and battles of the Southern Campaign, culminating at Guilford Courthouse. The author, John Buchanan, examines not only the battlefield strategy and tactical decisions made in the Carolina back country, but also the personalities and military careers of the major characters of Daniel Morgan, Nathanael Greene, Francis Marion, Sir Henry Clinton, Lord Cornwallis, Banastre Tarleton and Scotsman hero of the Kings Mountain battle, Patrick Ferguson

The final book I wanted to focus on is guitarist extraordinaire Richard Thompson's  brand new book Beeswing: Losing My Way and Finding My Voice 1967-1975. This presents the early years career of Fairport Convention, a super group of folk and rock musicians who scuffled along Great Britain but made exceptional music. And Thompson can write!


Saturday, November 21, 2020

#19-- A Covid Fall's Reading

 So, what's been worth my reading time during the past 6 months? Some old and some stunningly new. The 2014 debut novel in British author Mick Herron's self-titled Slow Horses series introduces the inhabitants of MI5's castoffs into London's Slough House. These men and women are the failures within the government intelligence service who screwed up an operation, crossed up an ambitious superior, became too dependent on alcohol or drugs and are now sent to quit the service or be bored into quitting with unending menial tasks. But a video of a young man being threatened with beheading on social media fire the Slow Horses into action utilizing their various, underappreciated skills. This series won the CWA Gold Dagger and is best read in order.

Studs Terkel (1912-2008) was best known for his radio show on Chicago's WFMT.   Talking to Myself: a Memoir of My Times, is great introduction to this late, lamented treasure. Terkel is laconic, wry, sometimes baffling. He needs his tape machinery, his Sony and his Uher.  He will reveal himself only as refracted through interviews with others, only in anecdotal banter. We learn in this memoir, a raggle-taggle patchwork, that Terkel was raised in his mother's Chicago hotel for transient men; where he learned to listen and to wait for the unforeseen moments when people reveal themselves. He worked as a poll watcher for some of Chicago's more entertaining and crooked politicians and knew Al Capone. His memoir is a lot like his radio shows, a wealth of interesting sidelights hidden in plain view of his story.

John Harvey 1938- is the prolific British author who introduced Detective Inspector Charlie Resnick of the Nottingham Police in Lonely Hearts in 1989. Resnick, a divorced loner with four cats named for his beloved jazz musician heros , is assigned a case involving a murdered woman whose last boyfriend was just released from prison and was heard to threaten her. Open and shut!  Not so as other, similar murders are happening as the suspect is held in jail. This debut was judged one of the 100 best mysteries of the 20th century.

So, What's New?    Among the new books I've enjoyed recently is Scott Phillips That Left Turn at Albuquerque which has zero to do with New Mexico, but a lot to do with corrupt people. Douglas Rigby, a lawyer in  LA has his back to the wall when he steals $200,000 from his last remaining client to do a cocaine deal that goes very wrong. Rigby cheats on his wife,a realtor who cheats on him, and who is poised to exercise her pre-nup that will bankrupt them both. Rigby concocts a scheme involving the last client, art forgery and subrosa sale to Russians of a painting but all ends in chaos and murder. Phillips, author of the classic The Ice Harvest, is one of the best noir authors, doesn't do heros, and apparently hates lawyers. What's not to like?

On the face of it, Blacktop Wasteland by S. A. Cosby is one in a long list of books riffing on a popular theme: the career criminal who wants just one last bite at the cherry, one last job to set him up for peaceful, affluent retirement. Beauregard “Bug” Montage however, is an African American man in the rural south, which leaves him a few steps behind the starting line when it comes to getting ahead. Bug  lives in the hills of North Carolina,is a responsible family man with a wife who brooks very little silliness from him, 2 sons, and is a small business owner of an auto repair shop with an employee who relies on him.Bug also owns and drives a Plymouth Duster 340 ci. that he inherited from his father and that he drag races along the Piedmont and never loses. An associate brings an opportunity to drive a stolen car from a jewelry store stickup but the action turns very wrong and puts Bug into a very evil crime syndicate revenge theft involving platinum. The book is stunningly well-written with a plot that hums on all 8 cylinders.

My final book under scrutiny is The Chain by Adrian McKinty which needs a little introduction. McKinty, born in Northern Ireland in 1968 during The Troubles, has been writing mystery novels for more than a decade, winning many awards including an EDGAR, a Ned Kelly in Australia, a McCavity, but making no money from his writing. He and his wife and child were about to be evicted from their home in Australia when word got to several big time American authors about his situation. He was contacted and connected with an editor/agent who asked if he had anything written with a US setting. McKinty replied he had a short story written almost a decade before called The Chain, and when sent to and read by the editor/agent who was stunned by it, the publishing wheels turned and the novel was released in 2019. 

The story presents a parent's worst nightmare, a phone call saying that a daughter is kidnapped from her school bus stop and will be murdered unless the mother can send an enormous Bitcoin ransom to an anonymous address and then identify a target child she has to kidnap, hold for ransom, and keep the Chain going. Rachel Klein is the Boston area mother, a single parent, cancer survivor who gets the call and must pull it together to get her daughter back. To say the book is "compelling" is a gross understatement as Rachel has to deal with a totally evil situation that police help isn't an option and all of her phone calls, computer activity, activities are monitored by The Chain. OK, so maybe the characterizations are a little thin and the book's conclusion is way past stunning, the concept is perfectly carried out by McKinty and if you want to give up control for 4 or 5 hours, read The Chain.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

#18 More Covid-19 Reading

#18 More Covid-19 Reading

So, what's been good stuff to read since the last time I checked, about 6 weeks ago. Goodness knows we all have time and apparently some money to spend on reading. Longs Peak Book Company, my used book business, has sold about 50 books in the past 10 weeks since this started. The four books I want present begin with the latest from novelist Don Winslow, Broken, his collection of 6 novella length stories that cover the western US with a stop in New Orleans in the book title story for a revenge fest involving an obsessive cop, his brother and mother and a very bad small-time drug dealer. The other stories capture the LA to San Diego cop culture, two characters in Hawaii and a return to El Paso. The stories are dedicated to and written in the style of Steve McQueen, Elmore Leonard and Raymond Chandler and there's not a loser in the 6 pack.

I have begun reading The Overstory by novelist Richard Powers and can't recommend it too highly. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 2019 and finalist for many other awards, the novel introduces its characters through separate short stories that tie the characters to a love of trees. This plays out in the body of the novel as these characters meet, fight deforestation, and develop their individual, extraordinary skills. The book is long, over 500 pages, but spectacular.

A new book that I got as an Advanced Review Copy (ARC) that will be published June 2 is Martha McPhee's novel, An Elegant Woman.Taken from her family history and recollections of neighbors and friends, McPhee presents her great-grand-mother and two daughters leaving a central Ohio town, her philandering husband in the early years of the 20th century to travel by train west to Montana and stake their claim. It's never easy for Glenna, the great-grandmother and her daughters, Katherine, the beautiful one and Thelma/Tommie/Katherine, the hard working one as Glenna basically abandons the girls for long periods as she works for suffrage and teaches at a string of one-room schools across the west. The girls make a decision on their futures that sends one to Hollywood, the other to nursing school back east and what will become a life as An Elegant Woman.

What with no authors doing signings, speaking tours, bookstores are working hard to stay afloat as are most every other small business.The Mysterious Bookshop in NYC solicited recommendations for weekly columns of a Who's Who of mystery writers-- DeMille, Connelly, Patterson, Perry, Sallis, etc. They individually listed the 5 books that most influenced them in writing and it was a lot of the expected-- Christie, Highsmith, Chandler, etc. But occasionally someone posted an author and title I'd never heard of. But the good old Loveland Public Library came through. Maybe they still have a few books that I recommended buying over the past 30 years. One that was new to me was Gene Kerrigan's "The Rage", set in Dublin of the 2010 period when the Irish Golden Dragon deflated. Garda Inspector Tidey connects an old, unsolved murder of a low level gangster with the current murder of a wealthy banker. A recently released prison convict is working with his brother and several others to pull a faultless armored car robbery. The cases coincide making Tidey's life hell and displaying excellent writing. Kerrigan is for those readers of Bruen, Rankin, Declan Burke, Malcolm Mackay and Adrian McGinty. Read and Enjoy!

Monday, April 6, 2020

#17 COVID-19 and Reading

#17     Covid-19 and Reading

So what's a YOLD guy ( Young Old--between the ages of 65-75) gonna do when in shut-down, confinement, stay-at-home going into a fourth week? Well, he can exercise so it's a 1-3 hour hike each day, he can do chores like spraying under the deck to kill carpenter ants, and he can digitize the last 5,000 35mm color slides dating back to 1977. And he can read, even if the library is closed. I mean I have 1880 books that are not converting into sales, so why not read some. What's been good as a Covid-19 read?

Four books for enjoyable reading begin with an ARC(Advanced Review Copy) of a book that will be published 04/14/2020." The Address Book: What Street Addresses Reveal About Identity, Race, Wealth, and Power" by Deirdre Mask is her debut and it presents a deeply researched history of the power of street names, location, as well as how street layout was determined. She reviews the Roman and early English developments on grid layout and ad hoc arrangement that is totally confusing and then looks at the power of naming and numbering streets and buildings in Vienna, Philadelphia and South Korea. Particularly interesting is her view of power following the Nazi rise in street naming in Berlin and what followed the defeat to those names. She explores this same issue in post-revolutionary Tehran , post Civil War Florida, St. Louis and South Africa following the end of apartheid. The book ends with a look at the effect of street names on homeless people. This book is all a reader would want to know on an obscure subject.

"Sports Illustrated Fifty Years of Great Writing" is exactly as billed collecting the best of 1954 to 2004 for a Fiftieth Anniversary Big Book. This is not for reading cover to cover but more for dipping in and reading an essay or two. And it's not presumptuous to say every reading will expose a great writer like Frank Deford, Roy Blount Jr., Robert Creamer, Dan Jenkins, Roger Kahn, Budd Schulberg, Thomas McGuane and George Plimpton. But who would have expected authors like John Steinbeck, William Faulkner, Wallace Stegner, and Jim Harrison contributed to SI? This is a book to cherish for the long haul especially with no live sports on the horizon.

A third book was a re-read especially after attending a February Loveland Symphony Orchestra 250th birthday salute concert to Ludwig Beethoven. I re-opened Edward Dusinberre's "Beethoven for a Later Age: Living With the String Quartets" and enjoyed the book all over again. Dusinberre, the first violinist since 1993 of the world-class Takacz Quartet , now based in Boulder at the University of Colorado, blends his story from audition to the quartet to working with three other fantastic musicians, originally from Hungary, as they learn and perform Beethoven's string quartets, deal with a brutal travel and performance schedule, illness and death. This real life view of an elite musical operation is matched with Dusinberre's vivid re-telling the drama in Beethoven's life as deafness took over, Napoleon's armies repeatedly entered Vienna, and no one would pay Beethoven the agreed upon money for his compositions and concerts.This book is really special if you enjoy classical music.

The fourth book is a new classic and a most timely book, "Station Eleven" by Emily St. John Mandel. This book , a Finalist for the 2014 National Book Award, is a time-shifting tale that begins with the death by heart attack of a famous film actor on the Toronto stage of King Lear as witnessed by a child actor, nine year old Kirsten and Jeevan, a paramedic who tries unsuccessfully to resuscitate the actor. Their three stories intertwine as a worldwide pandemic begins that night from a Georgian Flu and The Collapse of civilization follows. Fifteen years later Kristen is travelling what's left of the coastal areas of the Great Lakes in Michigan with a troupe of musicians and Shakespearean actors in their horse-drawn caravan as their stories again intertwine in very surprising ways.In some ways this is a difficult book to read right now, but the author is a terrific storyteller.