Saturday, January 12, 2019

Books, Bookshops, and cats, oh my!

I finally got around to a few books on my To Be Read list and one was “The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend.”  A bookshop is a central feature, almost a character, in this delightful book set in Broken Wheel, Iowa.  The back cover blurb captures it well: “A heartwarming reminder of why we are booklovers, this is a sweet, smart story about how books find us, change us, and connect us.”
Booklovers will get a kick out of the references to books and authors and be thankful for the lists in the back of the book.  I was reading about one of the characters being taken with Idgie and was tickled that I finally recalled that Idgie was a character in “Fried Green Tomatoes.”

That book prompted me to think, “Gee, I think there are other books I’ve read that take place in bookshops,” and I was right. There were a few whose titles I couldn’t recall, but I’ve come up with most of them.

Years ago, I read the Carolyn Hart mysteries that take place in and around the Death on Demand bookshop on Broward’s Rock, a South Carolina island. I likely read the first five or six and enjoyed all the references to books and authors.  I wasn’t surprised to learn there are 26 in the series, and I may have to get back to them.
You don’t have to be a Jane Austen fan to enjoy Charlie Lovett’s “First Impressions,” a tale of a previously unknown Austen manuscript. The heroine is recently graduated from Oxford and works in an antiquarian bookshop in London.  Since I just last year took a trip to England and visited Oxford, I especially enjoyed recognizing the Oxford references.

I discovered John Dunning’s series of books featuring bookshop owner and former Denver police officer Cliff Janeway when my sister passed along “Booked to Die,” the first in the series.  Now I know there are four more in the series, so they’re going on my TBR list.

I’ve mentioned Nina George’s book, “The Little Paris Bookshop,” in a previous column, but this whimsical story of a bookshop housed on a boat belongs on this list as well.  Wouldn’t you love to visit a floating bookshop?

Still on my TBR list is “The Storied Life of A.J.Fikry,” about the owner of Island Books on the imaginary Alice Island located somewhere near Boston.
Another book I’m looking forward to reading is “The Diary of a Bookseller,” a Christmas gift from a friend who knows me oh-so-well. This one is nonfiction, written by Shaun Bythell, who owns The Bookshop in Wigtown, Scotland. Described as “a wry and hilarious account of life at a bookshop in a remote Scottish village,” it promises to be a behind the scenes look at the life of a bookseller.

As for cats, as I recalled these books, I couldn’t help but think about Books Unlimited, a cozy, inviting bookshop in Franklin, North Carolina, where Nancy the cat roams from the chair to the window to the counter, perfectly at home. If you’re lucky when you visit, she may even curl up in your lap. And, if the books I’ve mentioned end up on your reading list, Nancy and the book shop owner will happily find them for you.

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Friday, December 28, 2018

Dog Songs are the Best

As I travel in the Royal Red Chariot with Mum and Dad, I listen to lots of music. When Mum got her new SUV—aka the Royal Red Chariot—she got three free months of Sirius XM radio.  She protested she wasn’t in the car often enough to make the most of the subscription, but she got hooked and re-upped.

The dealership had tuned the radio to Sirius Sinatra, and we listened to that for a bit because it reminded Mum of Ganma.  Ganma loved Frank Sinatra, almost as much as Mum loves the Beatles--the next station we plugged in. Once Mum decided to get a subscription, she found all kinds of cool music.

Now we have NPR and several music stations we flip through: the sixties, the seventies, the eighties, the Beatles, Yacht Rock, Classic Vinyl, the Bridge, the Coffee House, Soul Music and most recently, Jimmy Buffett.  Mum is a button puncher from way back, so we hear a wide variety from her era.

Dad, unlike me, doesn’t appreciate all Mum’s choices. He’s never liked the Beatles--mainly because they’re not Buddy Holly. Remember the song “American Pie?” My Dad believes the music died the day Buddy Holly did. Have you figured out by now that Dad is just a little bit older than Mum?

That’s why he programmed in the fifties station, which is OK by Mum.  He also, however,  likes cowboy music, as in cowboys yodeling, and Mum is having none of that.  Thankfully, the closest thing we could find to cowboy music was the Willie Nelson station.

As a highly intelligent and cultured dog, I enjoy a variety of music, but my favorite genre is Dog Songs.  Dog Songs, you ask? Are there Dog Songs?  Of course, there are, and I’m sure you’re familiar with most of them.

Since Mum so loves the Beatles, let’s start with Paul McCartney’s “Martha My Dear.” If you thought it was about a girlfriend, you’re wrong.  It’s Paul’s ode to his Old English Sheepdog Martha.
Written in 1953,  Patti Page’s “How Much Is That Doggie in the Window?” is one of Mum’s favorites. She remembers it from a 78 record she had as a child.  It hit number one on the Billboard charts, which seems strange for what sounds like a children’s song. Then again, silly me, it’s about a dog; no wonder it was popular.

Another dog song popular with children is B-I-N-G-O.  I especially like it because I can substitute B-A-N-J-O and sing right along.  Perhaps Mum needs to start sing-alongs at all of our appearances.  What better way to greet Lord Banjo?

We’ve never sung that song together, but we have a friend who sings “Ol’ Shep,” a sad song about a boy and his dog.  The boy grows up, and Shep grows old and goes to Doggie Heaven.  Whenever our friend sings “Ol Shep,” there’s nary a dry eye in the house.

On a much happier note, there’s “Me and You and a Dog Named Boo,” a tune that came out the year Mum graduated from high school.  She must not have been the only teenager who liked it; it made number five on the Billboard Charts.

With these songs only the tip of the iceberg and lots more out there, here’s my question: When will Sirius XM get a Dog Station?   It would be hugely popular given all the dog lovers in the world, especially dog lovers whose dogs ride along with them. I’d graciously sign up to be their first Doggie DJ, and we could start my program every day with a rendition of B-A-N-J-O.  The possibilities are endless.

Let me know what you think by writing me at
And hey, check out my book on Amazon!

Friday, December 21, 2018

Wishing you a Very Merry Christmas!!

From our House to Yours 

      May your Christmas be Merry and Bright!

Santa KNOWS what Lord Banjo wants
Puddin' is Patiently Waiting for Santa