- A Patchwork Planet by Anne
- At last I know what it means to
have a life...
- The Birds of Swan Point by
- A short, charming book about
birding at Providence's Swan Point Cemetery famous for
its warblers - perhaps more famous as the final resting
place of H.P. Lovecraft.
- Travelers of a Hundred Ages
by Donald Keene
- More diaries.
- Modern Japanese Diaries by
- See December
- The Willows at Christmas by
- See December
11 and December
- Short and Tall Tales by
Lillian Jackson Braun
- Those wacky Moose County stories
Qwilleran has been collecting throughout The Cat
- This Cold Heaven by Gretel
- Seven seasons in Greenland. Lots
of fascinating stuff about Eskimo lifestyle. Nice
retelling of Rasmussen's journeys at a manageable length.
Much of Ehrlich's description and reflection on her
experiences is overwritten. The content was what kept me
reading - not the writing.
- Trans-Himalaya by Sven
- Volume 1. Hedin's take on Tibet is
radically different from all those conquering (attempted
conquering, I guess one might say) Brits I was reading
- The Nine Emotional Lives of
Cats by Jeffrey Masson
- His cats like to go for walks with
him. He is the center of their universe. This is the cat
book he talked
about writing back in 1999
when he spoke at the MRFRS
annual meeting. Well, it's not exactly what he speculated
that it might be back then and it's certainly not what I
speculated it could be. It's a quick read and thought
provoking, but I think what folks said after the 1999
talk still applies.
- A Lady's Life in the Rocky
Mountains by Isabella Bird
- The intrepid Victorian lady
traveler in Colorado. Fabulous. I was sorry when I
finished it. I missed her insightful commentary on the
landscape and people of the old west.
- Birds of Siberia: The Petchora
Valley by Henry Seebohm
- Fascinating account of a 19th
century ornithological expedition in search of the
nesting area of the gray plover. Of course, not only do
they shoot the birds for specimens, they also shoot them
for food, and for sport... And they once they find out
where the gray plover nests, they eat the eggs! No wonder
it took me so long to finish this book. Now on to volume
2: The Yenisei, which I'm somewhat more interested in
than the Petchora Valley because they get further
- The Amber Spyglass by
- The third and final volume in the
His Dark Materials trilogy. I always new dark
matter was up to something. :-)
- After the Quake by Haruki
- Short stories by the master of
surreal Japanese storytelling.
- Eccentric Islands by Bill
- A collection of essays that got me
thinking about island as metaphor, Malagasy music, houses
full of books, Independent People (Halldor
Laxness), and China. All in one book.
- Salt Water Farm: Memoir of a
Place on Great Bay by Dorothy Emery
- Delightfully funny reminiscence of
growing up on a farm in southern New
- Florence, A Delicate Case
by David Leavitt
- Another in The Writer and the City
series. This one is less of a walk around Florence as a
gossipy bibliography of the late 19th/early 20th century
Anglo-Florentine community with a strong emphasis on gay
men. Full of long passages from mostly obscure, but some
great and famous, writers who lived in Florence.
- Land's End by Michael
- One of the Crown Journeys series
from Random House, yet another series of slim travel
books by well known writers in other genres. Remarkably
like The Writer and the City series, right down to the
focus on prominent gay male writers. It's a walk around
Provincetown, in the same mold as Edmund White's walk
around Paris. Flanerie except that Cunningham doesn't
call it that. I loved this book. The section on Adams
Pharmacy got me thinking about time, memory, mortality,
and metaphors all at the same time. I reread it several
times. It's that lyrical. It made me want to visit
Provincetown again - I haven't been there in like 20
years or so - but I bet I'll go there soon.
- The Flaneur by Edmund
- One of the new The Writer and the
City series from Bloomsbury.
White takes the reader on a stroll through Paris as he
knows it and as only he can. I've never been to Paris but
after reading this slim volume, I feel like I have.
- I Capture the Castle by
- A charming novel written from the
point of view of a teenage girl coming of age while
living in a ramshackle old castle with her sister,
brother, stepmother, and extremely eccentric father. Like
a Jane Austen novel only way way funnier.
- Word Freak by Stefan
- A fun easy read that took me deep
into the world/subculture of competitive
- Eye of the Albatross by
- Following a Laysan albatross in
her wanderings in search of food for her chick, plus
digressions on Monk Seals, Sea Turtles, and fisheries
- Island of the Aunts by Eva
- Aunts. A whole novel about aunts.
With mermaids, selkies, an amazingly large bird and
- The Time Bike by Jane
- The most recent in chronicles of
the Hall family of Concord, Massachusetts.
- Oaxaca Journal by Oliver
- A short easily read account
of a botanizing trip in Oaxaca with the American Fern
Society. On page 48 he mentions "a magnificent Douglas
fir on a precipitous outcropping". Without even reading
the next sentence, I knew that was the stand of Douglas
firs Zsolt discovered in 1994! The southernmost stand of
Douglas firs in the world. Sure enough he goes on to say
it was discovered by a botanist from the Hungarian Museum
of Natural History. Alas, he doesn't mention Zsolt by
name or the Dendrological Atlas Project. It is pretty
cool to have Zsolt's project almost sort of kind of
mentioned in a book by a best-selling writer. Now if only
I can find some way to leverage that to help the
- The Golden Chersonese by
- The intrepid Victorian lady
traveler in Malaysia. Her observations on the colonial
civil servants are every bit as interesting as her
observations on the locals.
- The Birds of Heaven: Travels
with Cranes by Peter Matthiessen
- Mathiessen & Robert Bateman
document the status of all 15 crane species around the
world through personal narrative and beautiful paintings.
Victor Emmanuel lead some of the trips. Fabulous book.
Not only a must read but a "must own and keep around"
- Red Poppies by
- A historical novel about Tibet and
China and the end of feudal chieftains, tinged with magic
realism, narrated by the idiot son on of a powerful
chieftain. I could hardly put it down. Political
intrigue, sex, war, magic, spectacular
- Consider the Eel by Richard
- Surprisingly readable account of
eel fishing, eel history, eel cookery... lots of fun. It
ain't Cod but it's darn good anyway.
- Mount Hope: A New England
Chronicle by George Howe
- A history of the town of Bristol,
Rhode Island and its most interesting family, the
deWolfs. I could not put this book down. The deWolfs were
slave traders, privateers, even pirates. Bad guys are way
more interesting than good guys. And these guys were
definitely bad guys. The author is a deWolf descendent
and makes it seem like the history of the deWolfs is the
history of Bristol. The weird thing is, he's probably
right. And he gives more of a sense of the horrors of the
Triangle Trade than a lot of history books. My favorite
chapter though is about Nor'west John deWolf who went on
a trading voyage to Canton and ended up crossing Siberia
and other adventures. Nor'west John married Mary
Melville, an aunt of Herman Melville, and is mentioned in
Chapter 45 of Moby Dick.
- Daughter of the Mountains
by Louise Rankin
- Another kid's book. A heroic
Tibetan girl takes an epic journey across Tibet, Nepal,
and India following a caravan of traders who stole her
dog. This oldie is pre-independence of India and makes
the British seem so wonderfully benevolent it's downright
funny. And some of the details of Tibetan culture are
just plain wrong (tsampa is not a cheese, for
example). Despite all that, it's a gripping narrative
with a girl hero. Too bad I didn't know this book when I
was searching high and low for books with girl
protagonists to read to Andrea (that must have been about
a thousand years ago - she probably has a higher reading
level than I do now:-)). She tolerates boy protagonists
now, but I think she'll appreciate this one (it's one of
those ages 9-12 books).
- The Fragile Flag by Jane
- More adventures of the Hall
family. In this one, Georgie saves the country from the
Peace Missile. Published in 1984, I got goose bumps
thinking of Dubya and the NMD.
- The Astonishing Stereoscope
by Jane Langton.
- More adventures of the Hall family
of Concord, Massachusetts. It's amazing where an old
stereoscope and a few slides can take you. Must be
something transcendental in the Concord water supply or
- The Swing in the
Summerhouse by Jane Langton
- Adventures of the Hall family of
Concord, Massachusetts. Who knew Transcendentalism was
this much fun?
- The Wild Geese by Ogai
- Related entry: February
- Sleeping with Cats by Marge
- Not really a cat book. It's a
memoir structured around Marge Piercy's relationships
with the cats she's known throughout her life much like
Vivian Gornick's wonderful memoir Fierce
Attachments is structured around walks with her
mother. Related entries: January
28. I'm supposed to do a
review of this instead of my regular column for the
spring issue of the MRFRS newsletter. Sure hope readers
aren't expecting it to be a cat book. I did really love
- The Cat Who Went Up the Creek
by Lillian Jackson Braun
- Squirrels. Black walnut trees.
Newsy postcards from museum villages of the East Coast.
Another fine sojourn in Moose County. Related entry:
- Moby Dick by Herman
- A whaling voyage out of New
Bedford... See entries for January
3 and January