A Company Of Swans by Eva Ibbotson
Published by Speak (2007) page 27




Thanksgiving has come and gone for another year and now the Christmas countdown has really begun!  While you’re making your list and checking it twice hopefully you’ll be able to make some time to do a little holiday reading.  From heartwarming family stories to murder mysteries, there are so many great books set during the Christmas season!  I’ll be sharing a few of my favorites as we go through the month and I’d love to hear about some of your favorite holiday books.

Happy reading this holiday season!

November Reading Wrap-Up

Books I’m Currently Reading

let the devil sleepLet The Devil Sleep by John Verdon

highwaymanThe Accidental Highwayman by Ben Tripp

the greatest knightThe Greatest Knight by Elizabeth Chadwick

Books Finished In November

ivanhoeIvanhoe by Sir Walter Scott

persuasionPersuasion by Jane Austen (Re-read)

the hooded manThe Hooded Man by Paul Kane

home by nightfallHome By Nightfall by Charles Finch

If you’ve read any of these books, I’d love to know what you thought about them!

October Reading Wrap-Up

Books I’m Currently Reading

the greatest knightThe Greatest Knight by Elizabeth Chadwick

ivanhoeIvanhoe by Sir Walter Scott

the hooded manThe Hooded Man by Paul Kane

Books Finished In October

the two mrs. abbottsThe Two Mrs. Abbotts by D.E. Stevenson

a moorland hangingA Moorland Hanging by Michael Jecks

the house on the strandThe House On The Strand by Daphne Du Maurier

the foundlingThe Foundling by Charlotte Bronte

the red boxThe Red Box by Rex Stout

If you’ve read any of these books I’d love to know what you thought about them!

September Reading Wrap-Up

Books I’m Currently Reading

the foundlingThe Foundling by Charlotte Bronte

the hooded manHooded Man by Paul Kane

the red boxThe Red Box by Rex Stout (Re-read)

Books Finished In September

Ramage & The DrumbeatRamage & The Drumbeat by Dudley Pope

the matchmakerThe Matchmaker by Stella Gibbons

wild strawberriesWild Strawberries by Angela Thirkell

miss buncle marriedMiss Buncle Married by D.E. Stevenson

102The President’s Hat by Antoine Laurain

103The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

problem of evilSidney Chambers And The Problem Of Evil by James Runcie

the shadow walkerThe Shadow Walker by Michael Walters

July Reading Wrap-Up

Books I’m Currently Reading:

they were found wantingThey Were Found Wanting by Miklos Banffy

the company manThe Company Man by Robert Jackson Bennett

ramageRamage by Dudley Pope

101Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust

Books Finished In July:

dream of perpetual motionThe Dream Of Perpetual Motion by Dexter Palmer

equations of lifeEquations Of Life by Simon Morden

little dorritLittle Dorrit by Charles Dickens

cathedralCathedral by Raymond Carver

84 charing cross road84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

the silent gondoliersThe Silent Gondoliers by William Goldman

The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop

“Then there! on that heaped table, or hidden on the lowest, dustiest shelf, we stumble on it.  A common thing, this volume.  There may be five thousand copies of this particular book in the world, or fifty thousand, or half a million, all exactly alike, but this one is as rare as if it had been made solely for us.  We open to the first page, and the universe unfolds, once upon a time.” (page 9)

I buy most of my books online.  It’s not something I like to admit but it is the truth.  I prefer browsing through bookstores to browsing through books online but since Borders closed a few years ago the closest bookstore to me (a Half Price Bookstore) is about a half hour away.  I still manage to go there regularly but it’s certainly not like my at least once-weekly trip to Borders.

It seems like we’ve come full circle with bookstores.  It wasn’t that long ago when the big chains were thriving and you would be hard-pressed to find a good independent bookseller.  Now the independents are enjoying some success again (apparently just not in my area) and a lot of the chain stores seem to be in trouble.  Here’s a good article from last year about all of this.

The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop by Lewis Buzbee provides an interesting read on the book business, from its earliest days to modern times.  This was originally published in 2006 (my edition includes an afterword from 2008) but it still provides some excellent insights into the book world.

yellow-lighted bookshop

What I really enjoyed about this though was Buzbee’s obvious love for books… and how much I could relate to it.

“It’s not as if I don’t have anything to read; there’s a tower of perfectly good unread books next to my bed, not to mention the shelves of books in the living room I’ve been meaning to reread.  I find myself, maddeningly, hungry for the next one, as yet unknown.  I no longer try to analyze this hunger; I capitulated long ago to the book lust that’s afflicted me most of my life.” (pages 9-10)

If you love books and bookstores then The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop is definitely worth a read!

From The Cover: In The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop, Lewis Buzbee celebrates the unique experience of the bookstore – the smell and touch of books, the joy of getting lost in deep canyons of shelves, and the silent community of readers. He shares his passion for books, which began with the Weekly Reader in grade school.  Woven throughout is a fascinating historical account of the bookseller trade – from the great Alexandria library with an estimated one million papyrus scrolls to Sylvia Beach’s famous Paris bookstore, Shakespeare & Co., that led to the extraordinary effort to publish and sell James Joyce’s Ulysses.

Just One More Thing:  “If you read one book a week, starting at the age of 5, and live to be 80, you will have read a grand total of 3,900 books, a little over one-tenth of 1 percent of the books currently in print.” (pages 129-130) 

Time Enough

This Edition: Paperback Published by Graywolf Press (2008)
Other Books By Lewis Buzbee: Steinbeck’s Ghost, Fliegelman’s Desire, After The Gold Rush, Blackboard, The Haunting Of Charles Dickens, Bridge Of Time, First To Leave Before The Sun

You Might Also Like: Sixpence House (Lost In A Town Of Books) by Paul Collins

A Book By Its Cover

I  was wandering through the bookcases at Borders (I really miss them) one day a few years ago when one book in particular caught my eye.  I was intrigued by the cover design and even more intrigued by the title.  Since I wasn’t there to buy anything specifically I decided to go ahead and get it.  As interesting as the book looked, when I arrived home it was doomed to be added to my To Read pile.  (Well, it used to be a pile… now it’s just wherever I can find room for it around the house.)  About a year passed before I finally got around to reading it but once I started I couldn’t put it down.  I kept thinking to myself, “You should have read this sooner!”

The City Of Dreaming Books

The City Of Dreaming BooksI typically don’t read fantasy books, but this one certainly got my attention.  As soon as it was finished, I checked to see what else Walter Moers had written and read The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear and A Wild Ride Through The Night (which features illustrations from Gustave Dore).  I didn’t like them as much as The City Of Dreaming Books but they were certainly enjoyable to read.  I’ve also bought The Alchemaster’s Apprentice, but that is still waiting in the To Read pile.

What I’m really excited about is the sequel to The City Of Dreaming Books, The Labyrinth Of Dreaming Books which will be released in English in November.  I’m hoping it’s every bit as good as the first one!


Up McIntosh Lane

I love to read and I have for as long as I can remember.  A good deal of my youth was spent behind the pages of a Good Book.  Rediscovering Vera the Mouse this week reminded me of a book I loved to read when I was younger:  Miss Hickory by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey.  I don’t have all the books from my Younger Days, but this is one I made a point to keep.  Like Vera the Mouse, the leading lady in this story knows how to dress well.  However, Miss Hickory is a little unusual:

“As a matter of fact Miss Hickory had difficulty in turning her head.  It was a hickory nut that had grown with an especially sharp and pointed nose.  Her eyes and mouth were inked on.  Her body was an apple-wood twig formed like a body with two arms and two legs, hands and feet, as twigs sometimes grow.  To this body Miss Hickory’s nut head was glued.”

Miss Hickory

Bailey is wonderfully descriptive and really brings the characters and their homes to life.  But what makes this Extra Special is the illustrations by Ruth Gannett.  Even now, I still like to pull this book off the shelf every once in awhile just to look at the pictures.


Revisiting this book and others from my Younger days is like catching up with a childhood friend: it brings to mind lots of good memories!

Mr. T. Willard-Brown