Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Middle Sis' August Books

I can't believe it's September already--hooray for autumn! August was a good month for reading for me, as I had several plane flights that provided uninterrupted book time. Now that the school semester has started and I'm teaching again, expect dedicated fun reading time to plummet.

  1. The Complete Guide to Walking for Health, Weight Loss, and Fitness by Mark Fenton (2008) Who needs a guide to walk? Don't we do that naturally? Well, yes, but this guide provides a timetable for 52 weeks of walking, with regular distance increases, aimed at getting a new walker ready for a 5 km or longer walk/race. Fenton also provides exercises, encouragement, and practical advice. Another in my series of books to inspire my marathon training. The stretching exercises were of particular interest to me. Well formatted, entertaining and informative, a great guide for the novice trying to start a program, or a dedicated walker trying to rev up her program or train for a race goal (like moi). Trade paperback
  2. The Film Mystery by Arthur B. Reeve (1921) Fun mystery of the silent movie era (and you know how I love silent movies). Well written, nice pace, and interesting first-hand view of the burgeoning film industry just as it was poised to take off and become mainstream American entertainment.The murders were set up well, and the revelation of the murderer undertaken in Classic Golden Era style. Kindle
  3. Mrs. Raffles by John Kendrick Bangs (1905) Very fun vignettes starring the wife of the Master Criminal Raffles, wherein she shows that she is just as clever a mastermind at burgling as her husband. Separate short stories that can be read independently or as a whole, with minor building up across stories to the denouement. Fun! Kindle
  4. A Series of Unfortunate Events No. 3 The Wide Window by Lemony Snicket (2001) The third entry in the tragic saga of Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire. How many forgotten, distant relations do these kids have? And when will the banker Mr. Poe start to believe them when they identify someone as Count Olaf? Love the Edward Goreyness of the series. Kindle
  5. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving (1820) I listened to a reading of this on BBC Radio 7 last fall, and when I bought my Kindle it was one of the first books I downloaded. Last week I also watched Sleepy Hollow with Johnny Depp just to continue the wonderful, historic, creepy atmosphere as Halloween lurks around the corner. Great novella, wonderful ambiance, spine-tingling fear as Ichabod is menaced by the Headless Horsemen. Anyone who grew up around the New York/NewJersey/Connecticut area will always have a secret dread of two things: the Jersey Devil and the Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow. Definitely recommended. Kindle
  6. The Static of the Spheres by Eric Kraft (2009) Novella of a boy and his grandfather building their own short wave radio set. Touching but not maudlin, a sweet fictional reminiscence. While the narrator never really emerges with much personality from the book, the grandfather and grandmother are more engaging and well-rounded characters. I'd love to eat in their kitchen one Saturday night. Kindle
  7. The Country of the Pointed Firs by Sarah Orne Jewett (1896) Wonderful depiction of life in a small Maine fishing village at the turn of the century, when modern changes were already affecting the fabric of local life. Sympathetic depiction of eccentric characters and warm acceptance of their quirkiness by their neighbors, a lovely little celebration of Yankee fortitude and kindness. I've been wanting to read this one for years, and am so glad I finally have. I'd love to live in that little town. Kindle
  8. Walking to Vermont by Christopher Wren (2004) Now this is the kind of walking book I've been wanting to read (forget that one from last month). Mr. Wren, a former New York Times reporter, decided to start his retirement by walking out of his office in New York City to his retirement home in Vermont. Once he leaves NYC, he hikes along the Appalachian Trail, and takes us along with him in a well-written memoir that weaves reminiscences of his time as a foreign reporter with his hiking experience and the people he meets along the AT. Full of the charming and odd people one meets in out-of-the-way places, we also get to meet big-hearted people, like the woman who has made thousands of chocolate chip cookies that she gives to the AT hikers, the people who let the the hikers sleep on their lawns or leave coolers of cold juice out on the trail. Local historical tidbits are included and help flesh out the journey.  Reading about it is the next best thing to hiking the trail.  Hardcover
  9. Real Murders by Charlaine Harris (1990) First of the Aurora Teagarden mysteries. Members of a club who meet monthly to discuss old, unsolved, historical murders are appalled to find that one of them is recreating these murders, using club members as victims. Enjoyable until a child was kidnapped and threatened; I intensely dislike books where children are hurt or molested or killed. Once I get the bad taste lingering behind from that aspect of the story, I may give Roe and her friends another shot. Audiobook
  10. Brood of the Witch Queen by Sax Rohmer (1918) Egyptian curses! Supernatural appearances! A pair or disembodies hands that mysteriously appears--and kills!Danger! Romance! A great story, very atmospheric, ruined by too abrupt an ending. But the ride to the end is great fun, with an ancient mummy come to life threatening Edwardian London, a fragrance that can kill, human sacrifice, and basically all the ingredients to a rollicking good adventure a la Indiana Jones. Kindle

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