Books Read in January 2022

I had the pleasure of reading a variety of books in January. Each one was interesting in its own way.

In my December 6, 2021 blog post, Books Read in November 2021, I made less-than-glowing remarks about Wiley Cash’s When Ghosts Come Home. I’m rectifying the situation today.

When Ghosts Come Home, by Wiley Cash

When Ghosts Come Home, by Wiley Cash

I owed it to myself and Wiley Cash to give this novel a second chance. I checked out the large print edition of the book from the public library in January and started reading it again. I’m so glad I did!

I think part of my problem in November was that I read the first chapter or two and didn’t get back to it for a week or so. Since the third chapter was about a new set of characters with no obvious connection to the characters in the first couple of chapters, the book sort of fell apart for me. I figured out the connection a little later, but by then I’d lost interest in the story.

Getting back to this novel in January was a real treat. I was able to give it enough attention in longer blocks of time to get into the storyline, make the connections, and care what happened to the characters.

I had to find out why Rodney Bellamy was at the airstrip that night. I had to find out what happened to Janelle’s kid brother, Jay. I had to know if Winston’s daughter, Colleen, was going to get her life back together after losing her baby. I had to find out how Winston, the county sheriff on the coast of North Carolina, got all the crimes and problems sorted out. I had to find out what part FBI Agent Tom Gross played in all this.

Determined to tie all the loose ends together, the end of the book kept me reading until 3:00 a.m. I’m back on track now with Wiley Cash and look forward to his next novel.

There is an element of racial tension woven throughout When Ghosts Come Home. The following is a very telling quote from the book. Ed Bellamy is referring to the white Marines he served alongside in Vietnam.

“But I knew something else my white buddies didn’t know: I knew what it meant to be hunted…. I still know what it means to be hunted. All these years later, we’re still being hunted.”

I’ve read all his earlier novels: A Land More Kind Than Home, The Dark Road to Mercy, and The Last Ballad.

I read A Land More Kind Than Home in 2015 before I started commenting other than mentioning the titles on my blog about the books I was reading.

In February 2016, I read The Dark Road to Mercy. Here’s the link to the blog post in which I commented on it: Some books I read in February

I commented on The Last Ballad in my blog post on November 6, 2017: Some Good New Books.


These Precious Days, by Ann Patchett

These Precious Days: Essays, by Ann Patchett

I was surprised when I looked back through my blog posts to find that this is the fifth Ann Patchett book I’ve read. I’ll give you the links to those earlier four blog posts in case you’d like to read what I had to say about her other books.

To refresh my memory and yours about the Ann Patchett books I’ve read, here are my nutshell descriptions and the links to the blog posts in which I wrote about them:

(1) The Getaway Car is a book in which Ms. Patchett humorously tells what she has learned about the craft and art of writing. What I read in February 2017

(2) State of Wonder is a novel set in Brazil. It involves a pharmaceutical firm in Minnesota and the jungle along the Amazon River. Some Great September Reads

(3) The Dutch House is about a dysfunctional family in which the mother leaves and never returns. There are many layers to this story and the house itself is as important as any character. I highly recommend you listen to the CD of this book which is read by Tom Hanks. I stretched my reading horizons in November

(4) Bel Canto is a novel based on the 1996 hostage situation at the home of an ambassador in Peru. Eight Books I Read in March 2020

(5) Commonwealth was a novel that didn’t grab my interest and I didn’t listen to all of it. It involved drunks at a christening party. I couldn’t identify with that. Books Read in May 2020

Ann Patchett is an essayist in addition to being a novelist. These formats take two different writing skills. She’s a master of both. I enjoyed listening to These Precious Days, which is a collection of essays. She reveals some of her past in an entertaining way and with humor. If you’re an Ann Patchett fan, you’ll love this book.

I connected with her on several levels in this book. We’re both writers, although she’s light years ahead of me. We both knit – or do so rarely and not as well as those knitting experts in Scotland. Neither of us have children to dote on or depend upon to help care for us in our dotage.

It is a book about friends and family and those ties that bind us and help us along through life’s ups and downs. It was one of those books that left me wanting more when it ended.


When We Cease to Understand the World, by Benjamin Labatut; translated from Spanish into English by Adrian Nathan West

When We Cease to Understand the World, by Benjamin Labatut

My cousin, Jerome Williams, recommended this book. I failed to have it on my to-be-read list, although it was shortlisted for the 2021 National Book Award for Translated Literature. The author, Benjamin Labatut, is Chilean.

This novel reads like a nonfiction book. In it, Señor Labatut writes about various scientists and mathematicians who have had to wrestle with the moral ramifications of their discoveries. In some cases, their discoveries were meant for good but have been used as weapons of mass destruction and untold suffering. Some of these men lost their minds or were mentally tormented by the ways in which their discoveries were used.

There are unexpected twists and turns as years and decades pass, and we’re left to wonder what great wonders and what horrific demented uses of those great wonders lie in the future.

Thanks for the recommendation, Jerome. You have good taste in literature.


The Silk Roads: A New History of the World, by Peter Frankopan

As I’ve mentioned before, this book isn’t a fast read. It’s a history book and it packs a tremendous amount of information and insight into its more than 600 pages. Trying to read the regular print edition was taxing on my eyes, so I got on the waitlist for the Kindle edition. I rose to the top of the list early in January and was eager to pick up where I’d left off in November.

Other books also reached the top of the library waitlists, though, and I was distracted. The Silk Road isn’t the kind of book you can read in snippets. I’ll keep reading it, probably throughout 2022.



Since my last blog post

I’ve been researching the Great Wagon Road and some of old trails associated with it. In case you’re interested in learning more about the Great Wagon Road, I recommend that you look at the PiedmontTrails.com website (https://piedmonttrails.com/) and look for Piedmont Trails on YouTube. Carol, who spearheads the Great Wagon Road Project, has lots of information that she freely shares. The Great Wagon Road Project is documenting the 800-mile wagon road that went from Pennsylvania to Augusta, Georgia in the 1700s and early 1800s.

I’m doing this research in conjunction with the historical novels I’m attempting to write. I had planned to start writing the rough draft of Book One with the working title The Heirloom, but there’s a technical issue with my computer regarding margins. I hesitate to start the rough draft until I can get my margins set at a reasonable setting. I’ve never had this problem before.

Until my next blog post

I hope you have a good book to read and a hobby to enjoy.

Stay safe and well.

Janet

My Recent Discovery of OpenLibrary.org

I love how things seem to just happen. Things I couldn’t anticipate because I didn’t know they existed. Serendipity.

OpenLibrary.org

Photo credit: Emil Widlund on unsplash.com

In the process of looking for an out-of-print genealogy book a couple of weeks ago, I quite by chance saw a reference to OpenLibrary.org. I’d never heard of it, so I typed in into a search engine to investigate it. What a treasure!

The website’s self-description reads as follows: “Open Library is an initiative of the Internet Archives, 501(c)(3) non-profit, building a digital library of Internet sites and other cultural artifacts in digital form. Other projects include the Wayback Machine, archive.org and archive-it.org.

I haven’t taken the time to explore archive-it.org, archive.org, or the Wayback Machine, but I learned from the video overview that the Wayback Machine gives you a way to go back in time and see what a particular website looked like years ago.

After signing up with my email address and a password, I gained free access to 4 million books, including that out-of-print genealogy book! It wasn’t available from Amazon.com and it wasn’t even available from my go-to used books website, abe.com. (The Advanced Book Exchange rarely lets me down.)

On OpenLibrary.org, I was able to access the entire genealogy book and do all the research I needed to do in just a couple of hours. It didn’t cost me a penny. I remember a time not so long ago when being able to do that from the comfort of my home – or from anywhere else, for that matter – was the stuff of science fiction.

If you can’t find the book you’re looking for on OpenLibrary.org, they even have a way for you to sponsor a book, and then it will be available to you and everyone else.

I’m getting no financial or other benefit from blogging about OpenLibrary.org. I just wanted to share with you a free resource that might help you.

Since my last blog post

Photo credit: NisonCo PR and SEO on unsplash.com

I watched a free 90-minute webinar on Tuesday about Amazon Optimization by Geoff Affleck. It was aimed at self-publishing authors. I don’t know yet how I’ll get my novel series published, but I took lots of notes for future reference if I go that route. Also, I picked up some pointers that I can do to my Amazon Author page now.

The Heirloom

I read every chance I got last week, and I worked on my scenic plot outline for Book One in my series (possibly titled, The Heirloom) every day except Sunday. I try not to work on the Sabbath. The word count for the scenic plot outline stood at more than 12,000 as of Saturday night. I’m enjoying my research on the Great Wagon Road and some of the trails that crossed or veered off of it.

Thank you, Beverley in the British Virgin Islands – and a blogger friend of mine – for firmly encouraging me to stop reading so much and make time for my writing. I’m happier now and have more direction in my life.

My sister and I continue to work on photo albums together while we listen to a book, listen to music, or watch TV.

Until my next blog post

I hope you have a good book to read. I continue to have more books than I can get to, but I’m dedicated now to writing six days a week.

Stay warm. Stay safe. Stay healthy.

Janet

#OnThisDay (Tomorrow): Robert Burns’ Birthday

Robert Burns was born on January 25, 1759 in Ayrshire, Scotland.

A friend of mine from Campbeltown, Scotland, asked me if I liked to read the poems of Robert Burns. I had to admit that I couldn’t understand most of them.

Although written in English, and I’m an English speaker, the English Robert Burns used in the second half of the eighteenth century in Scotland was a far cry from the English I use and speak as an American in 2022.

I love to hear the soft, lilting tongue of Lowland Scots spoken. It’s lovely. It’s, no doubt, the way my Morrison ancestors spoke, for they were lowlanders and not Gaelic-speaking highlanders.

It’s lovely to hear a Scottish accent, whether highlander or lowlander; however, the heavier the accent, the harder it is to understand some words. In addition to that, the Scots have words for things that we don’t use in America.

When it comes to reading something written in Scots, some words just don’t translate well to my ears. That brings me back to Robert Burns.


Photo credit: Gary Ellis on unsplash.com

“Auld Lang Syne”

The most famous poem associated with by Robert Burns is, no doubt, the one that’s sung on New Year’s Eve. The words of “Auld Lang Syne.” The Scottish pronunciation is ‘o:l(d) lan’ səin. I must admit, this doesn’t help me at all. My source was quick to point out that we should note that Syne is pronounced like an s and not like a z. The rough translation is Long, long ago; or old long time; or good old time.

It seems that it’s an ancient song and in 1788 Robert Burns was the first person to write down the words. That was when he submitted the words to the Scots Musical Museum.

Did you know the song has four verses? Here they are in Scots, followed in more understandable English, thanks for the Scotland.org website The History and Words of Auld Lang Syne | Scotland.org.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,

And never brought to mind?

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,

And auld lang syne.

Chorus

For auld lang syne, my jo,

For auld lang syne,

We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,

For auld lang syne.

And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp!

And surely I’ll be mine!

And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,

For auld lang syne.

Chorus

We twa hae run about the braes

And pu’d the gowans fine;

But we’ve wander’d mony a weary foot

Sin auld lang syne

Chorus

We twa hae paidl’d i’ the burn,

Frae mornin’ sun till dine;

But seas between us braid hae roar’d

Sin auld lang syne.

Chorus

And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere!

And gie’s a hand o’ thine!

And we’ll tak a right guid willy waught

For auld lang syne.

Chorus


Scottish Lamb. Photo credit: Gibbon Fitzgibbon on unsplash.com

A modern translation of “Auld Lang Syne”:

Should old acquaintance be forgot,

And never brought to mind?

Should old acquaintance be forgot,

And long, long ago.

Chorus

And for long, long ago, my dear

For long, long ago,

We’ll take a cup of kindness yet,

For long, long ago.

And surely you’ll buy your pint-jug!

And surely I’ll buy mine!

And we’ll take a cup of kindness yet,

For long, long ago.

Chorus

We two have run about the hills

And pulled the daisies fine;

But we’ve wandered manys the weary foot

Since long, long ago.

Chorus

We two have paddled in the stream,

From morning sun till dine;

But seas between us broad have roared

Since long, long ago.

Chorus

And there’s a hand, my trusty friend!

And give us a hand of yours!

And we’ll take a deep draught of good-will

For long, long ago.

Chorus


Oh, My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose

Photo credit: Serafima Lazarenko

“Oh, My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose” is my favorite Robert Burns poem – partly because it’s more understandable than most of his – and because the sentiment is beautiful. Here are the words:

O my Luve is like a red, red rose

That’s newly sprung in June;

O my Luve is like the melody

That’s sweetly played in tune.

So fair art thou, my bonnie lass,

So deep in luve am I;

And I will luve thee still, my dear,

Till a’ the seas gang dry.

Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear,

And the rocks melt wi’ the sun;

I will love thee still my dear,

While the sands o’ life shall run.

And fare thee weel, my only luve!

And fare thee weel awhile!

And I will come again, my luve,

Though it were ten thousand mile.

You can find it sung by various artists on YouTube.


Happy 263rd Birthday, Robert Burns

Scottish Bagpiper. Photo credit: Lynda Hinton on unsplash.com

It’s a tradition that many Scottish organizations, such as the Robert Burns Society, celebrate the bard’s birthday with a fancy dinner. This involves a bagpiper “piping in” the traditional Scottish dish, haggis. I’ve never been to one of those dinners.

When I visited Scotland, I was determined to have as many Scottish experiences as possible. I ate haggis. Now I can say, “I’m a haggis eater,” which you’re supposed to say with a deep voice and much gusto.

I’ve eaten haggis. I don’t have to do that again, if you get my drift.

Thistle. Photo credit: Elisa Stone on unsplash.com

Since my last blog post

A blogger friend of mine, Francisco Bravo Cabrera, is a man of many talents. He paints, he writes poetry, he makes music, he puts together extraordinary art history videos, and he shares his talents on his blog. Here’s the link to one of his recent posts: https://paintinginvalencia.wordpress.com/2022/01/16/jazzart-phase-iii/

Since I blogged last Monday, I learned that he has launched a new endeavor by joining Fine Art America. Here’s a link to Francis’ Fine Art America page where you can view and purchase examples of his digital art on a vast variety of items ranging from wall canvas to notecards:  Francisco Bravo Cabrera Art | Fine Art America. Best of luck with this new opportunity, Francis!

I started writing the scenic plot outline for what I want to be “Book One” in my planned novel series. The scene-by-scene “outline” now stands at more than 3,700 words. I’m considering the working title, The Heirloom. The manuscript I’ve been blogging about for years with the working title of either The Doubloon or The Spanish Coin will be “Book Two.”

My blog post last week was “liked” and commented on by an honest-to-gosh published novelist, D. Wallace Peach. Her comment made my day and encouraged me that I’m on the right track with novel structure. Thank you, Diana!

My decluttering project at home continues. I went through bags, drawers, and boxes of old craft supplies. It felt good to discard dried-up fabric paint, craft glue, and sundry supplies I know I’ll never use. Usable items I’m no longer interested in or motivated to use will be donated to several people and a re-sell organization. The process freed up a drawer in a chest of drawers, making room for more things I probably should throw away or donate.

I worked on my next three blog posts.

I also did some reading. I gave When Ghosts Come Home, by Wiley Cash, another chance and loved it. More on that in my February 7, 2022 blog post.

Oh – and I actually got to spend some time on genealogy, one of my most rewarding hobbies.

In spite of some health concerns within my family, the Covid-19 pandemic, natural disasters, and the threat of war in eastern Europe, I had a good week. For me, 2022 is getting off to a productive start.


Until my next blog post

I hope you have a good book to read and a hobby to enjoy.

Stay safe and well, and let me know what you’ve been doing.

Janet

Highland “Coo.” Photo credit: James Toose on unsplash.com