Another reading update

I’ve been terrible about keeping track of what I’m reading lately, I know.  I just–and–I was–ummm… Yeah.  Well, anyway, here’s some of what I remember.

Conan Doyle for the Defense

I picked up a copy of this one at the local bookstore because, I mean, Margalit Fox.  How many authors can make you have a favorite prehistoric writing system?  But that is exactly what Margalit Fox did in The Riddle of the Labyrinth (love that book!), so when I saw that she had a new book out, and it was nonfiction about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle getting involved to free a man who had been wrongly convicted of a scandalous murder… How could I possibly pass that up?

In the end I think this book could have been rather considerably shorter than it was without suffering any.  It’s still a story worth knowing, though.  Just maybe get it from the library instead of buying it in hardcover.

Tell Me How It Ends

The college’s reading initiative picked this book for this year, and Valeria Luiselli is coming to campus to talk about it.  So when I was scrolling through NYPL’s ebook app and this one popped up, and I didn’t have anything else particularly in mind to read… Well, why not be a good campus citizen and read it?

Tell Me How It Ends uses Luiselli’s experience translating for the unaccompanied refugee children making their way to the US, and the framework of the questions those children have to answer so that lawyers can decide whether to argue their case, to make you feel the inhumanity of US immigration policies.  It’s a fabulous book–well written, well presented, really important topic–but it left me wanting to scream at current and recent US politics.  I bet it would pair really well on a reading list with Haven.

What I Found In A Thousand Towns

A student came to the reference desk this week asking for a bunch of books focusing on small town America.  Our library didn’t own most of them, so I was showing the student ILL, and they were reading out titles and authors for me to search–and then they said “Dar Williams.”  I started typing, and then I stopped.  “Wait.  Dar Williams??  I love Dar Williams!  She wrote a book?”

Whichever prof told that student to read this book, thank you!  This is another one that I was able to get through the NYPL ebook app.  I haven’t finished yet, but I’m psyched for the section talking about the Finger Lakes (since I’m very fond of the Finger Lakes in general and Ithaca in particular).

The book looks at different ways that small towns become actual communities–the kind of place where people know each other and are involved in things and take pride in being from there.  The kind of place where downtown isn’t full of sad and empty storefronts, but instead is a place where people actually go to live and work and eat and shop and play.  Because Dar Williams has been playing in all kinds of places since (apparently) the ’90s, she has interesting firsthand perspectives on a number of before and after stories.  Also I love the motley assortment of people she talks to about their towns/stores/projects/etc.

This book also makes me want to up my game at connecting people and making things happen.  I mean, I already have had a couple of notable (if relatively small-scale) successes in that arena–but this makes me want to scale up and really contribute to the efforts underway to revitalize my town.  Hmmm…