Friday, November 26, 2021



With a chill in the air even in California, I look for good books to read. Mysteries have been my guilty pleasure since I was a kid. Bill and I often remark that English villages must be dangerous places to visit with all the "murders" taking place in them. We walked into Books Inc, a local indie bookstore, recently. On the checkout counter, we saw a book Your Guide to Not Getting Murdered in a Quaint English Village by Jay Cooper and Maureen Johnson. We laughed through the book and its suggestions not to venture into the cemetery of the church (there is always a church) at night. Even walking into the local pub can be dangerous because the authors say the locals just don't like change. All in fun, of course.

If you aren't into mysteries, check out the following good books:

Sandra Cisneros, Martita, I Remember You or Martita, te recuerdo

The book is cleverly published with the English cover and version on one end upside down from the Spanish cover and version at the other end. We bought it thinking of our goal to learn Spanish and found the story to be a tender one of youthful friendship and the discovery of old letters that the main character describes as "those letters between us, pebbles tossed into water. The rings grow wider and wider."

Alex George, The Paris Hours

The story revolves around four seemingly disconnected people in Paris in the 1920s. We follow Marcel Proust's housekeeper, a journalist, an Armenian puppeteer, and a painter as their lives are metered out one chapter at a time during the course of one day. For different reasons they all come together at the end of the book by arriving at the LeChat Blanc, a local bistro, at the same time.

Victoria Finlay, Color, a Natural History of the Palette

A non-fiction book about the pigments that make up the colors that we have used for thousands of years to tell our stories. Ochre, from the yellowish compressed soil found in many countries, was the first pigment. It has been mixed with various binders to cover our skins to ward off evil or insects, to paint faces for hunting or war, and to set some people apart from others. In some cultures, ochre is secret and only visible to certain people.

Finlay takes the reader through the process of developing formulas for the colors, how they are made, then lost over time and then rediscovered in another era. We learn that blue and red mixed together make violet, but it wasn't until the 19th century while a chemist, William Henry Perkins worked on a synthetic version of quinine, that he noticed a small amount of residue from his experiments. He turned the residue into a dye that he called mauve, which in Victorian England became the trendiest color. The book is more than a book for artists. It's a walk through our history and explains how influential color has been on cultures around the world.

Charlotte Mendelson, Rhapsody in Green

Gardening for Mendelson occupies her life. She is the gardening correspondent for The New Yorker, but her own gardening plot is limited to about 7 square yards. In that small area, she grows an abundance of food, each plant contributing a small amount each day to her meals. Like many nature writers, she finds something more important in her garden than mere plants. She finds life itself and how it nourishes us all.


The Prolonged Nativity by Virginia Averill

Ginny Averill, the wife of one of my cousins, is a multi-talented artist and has an entire wall of her work at the annual group art show at the art gallery at the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Marquette, Minnesota, from Nov. 28 to Jan. 16. The best time to view the show is on Sundays from 10 am to noon. Because of COVID restrictions, it is best to call ahead if you want to visit. 612-332-3221

Check out her website at


  1. Dear Martha,
    Thanks for sharing your reading tips…I need to start reading more!!
    Jan Hersh

  2. I am definitely going to look for The Paris Hours!!
    You are my reader teacher fabulous friend!


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