"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Sunday Salon: January 19, 2020

Weather: Today was overcast but no rain. Fine enough for a walk with the dog. This past week we've seen it all: snow, hail, rain, wind, and fine blue skies.

6000 years old: James Usser (1581-1656) decided to calculate the age of the earth. He went way back to the "beginning" in the Bible and used all kinds of calculations. He was very meticulous. He used over 2000 pieces of paper and it took him 10 years to figure it out. In 1650 he came to a conclusion: "Earth was formed on Sunday, October 23, 4004 BC...around lunchtime." Nevermind that he was over 4 billion years off. He became known as the first geologist. In 1703 the Church of England printed Usser's dates in the margin of the updated Bible. From that point on many Christians have thought Usser's numbers were actually from God. In fact, Gideon's Bibles were also printed with this date up until 1978. Some misinformation really dies hard. (From the book: The First Dinosaur by Ian Lendler.)

"I want to finish my book before I die": My mother's dear friend had a small stroke this past week. She told her family that she didn't want to die, though she was ready, until she finished the book she was reading. It was too good to miss the ending. A few days later she had a bigger stroke which rendered her uncommunicative. Her family made sure to read the ending of the book aloud to her anyway. I sure hope she could hear them. She died yesterday in peace.

Snow-what?: The weather forecasters made sure we all were prepared for the worst: Snow, wind, freezing temperatures. When the snow arrived it amounted to less than two inches. I think one night the temperatures did fall below freezing, but just barely. Now we are back to regular winter weather: rain.

No reviews: This is the first time I have participated as a round two judge for the Cybils book award. After reading my first of eleven finalist books, I wrote a nice review and posted it here on my blog. Umm...That was a problem. Apparently, even though Cybils are awarded by book bloggers, we are NOT supposed to publish our reviews of the finalists until after the awards are announced on Feb. 14th. Not sure why, especially since I didn't say anything like "I will for sure vote against this book." Nevertheless, I took down my review and have it piled up with the other four I've written since then. Starting late in the day on the 14th of February, I will release one review a day for the following eleven days. I'm sure you can hardly wait.

Speaking of reading. Here is a list of the books I've read so far in 2020 (I've been busy):
  • Dreamland (YA Edition): The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic by Sam Quinones. E-book. I've wanted to read the adult version of this book for the years since it was published so I am glad to be able to read this YA version now. Cybils, SH Nonfiction.
  • On This Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong. Print. A gay man writes a letter to his mother, a Vietnamese woman who cannot read English, as an explanation of how he has interpreted his life and interactions with her. 
  • Blowout: Corrupted Democracy, Rogue State Russia, and the Richest, Most Destructive Industry on Earth by Rachel Maddow. Audiobook. The title says it all except that 'Oil and Gas' is the industry.
  • Playlist: Rebels and Revolutionaries of Sound by James Rhodes. Print. Rhodes, a classical musician highlights pieces of music from the original rock stars: Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Schubert, Rachmaninoff, and Ravel. Cybils, SH Nonfiction.
  • Disaster Strikes! The Most Dangerous Space Missions of All Time by Jeffrey Kluger. Print. Some of the space disaster I'd heard of (Apollo 13) but most I hadn't. Cybils, JH Nonfiction.
  • 1919: The Year That Changed America by Martin W. Sandler. Print. Women get the vote, prohibition is voted in, the first red scare, the Harlem Rennaisance, etc. Cybils, JH nonfiction.
  • Normal People by Sally Rooney. Audiobook. A girl and boy hook up in high school where he is popular and she an outcast. When they get to college, things are reversed. Read my review before you decide to read it. (Click hyperlinked title.)
  • The First Dinosaur: How Science Solved the Greatest Mystery on Earth by Ian Lendler. Print. All the people who put their heads and minds together to figure out geology and paleontology to the point of naming the first dinosaur. Cybils, JH nonfiction. 
Currently reading: 
  •  A Thousand Sisters: The Heroic Airwomen of the Soviet Union in World War II by Elizabeth Wein. E-Book. 28%. Cybils, SH Nonfiction.
  • The Stonewall Riots: Coming Out In the Streets by Gayle E. Pitman. Print. 46%. Cybils, JH nonfiction.
  • The Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor. Audiobook. Part of the 'Strange the Dreamer' series. 5% complete.
Instead of publishing reviews, I've been creating posts like these:
Sanditon: PBS is running a mini-series on Jane Austen's unfinished novel, Sanditon. The creator of the series took her characters, setting, and plot beginnings and built the story from there. Don and I binge-watched all eight episodes this week. What fun to be back in Austen's world for a while. I must say though, quite a few circumstances were very 21st Century, not early 19th Century. And the ending...I'll say no more. Watch it.

Survey: 59% of Republicans think college is bad for America. (Pew Research, August 2019) How far we have slipped. Sigh.

On the impending Senate trial on the impeachment of Trump:
“The most important thing is that the American people deserve a fair trial. The Constitution deserves a fair trial. Our democracy deserves a fair trial. And we believe that a fair trial involves witnesses. It involves evidence. It involves documents.” (H. Jeffries, D-NY on Fox News)
Because I want to think about something other than politics:

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
Do something good for someone in need!


  1. Even though there are no reviews, I sure enjoyed this post! And Dreamland (adult version) is a wonderful book!

    1. My experience with YA vs adult versions of books is that some of the details are pared down, so I think I won't need to read the original. I got the gist and it is terribly disturbing.

  2. I have CYBILS reviews all piled up as well and it feels strange to see all those drafts just sitting there. Only a few more weeks to wait. I love the story of your friend who wanted to finish her book before she died; it's such a testament to the power of books. Ah, politics. The trial will frustrate me, rolling back Michelle Obama's nutrition initiative for schools frustrates me, not thinking college matters frustrates me. Ugh. It's all too much.

    1. No one told me about the reviews until you sent me the note, then my "supervisor" mentioned it on our communication page. Seems odd to me. We should be able to blog but with some guidelines to not tip our hands in terms of preferences.

  3. Maybe reviews would sway people or cause them not to read the book--or have a positive/negative impression going in. (bias?) That's a lovely story about your mom's friend. I too would hate to leave a good book unfinished. I'm glad we didn't get hit with Snowmaggedon!

    1. I know, me neither. Don and my sister were teasing me about that last night, though they said I'd have five books to finish instead of one.

  4. Your mom's friend sounds exactly like how I plan to be at the end. That's wonderful that her family read aloud to her.

  5. Tell me that again...59% of Republicans think college is bad for America? Sigh.


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