Wednesday, June 05, 2024

Thursday Thirteen #362

My first 13 books of 2024.
June seems like a good time to look back on my reading so far this year. 

My list is in the order that I read them. I put my personal grade after the link.

1. Babe: The Legend Comes to Life by Robert Creamer. My grade: B. A moving, but very detailed, biography of Babe Ruth.

2. Everyone Here Is Lying by Shari Lapena. C. A fun but forgettable thriller.

3. Murder, Stage Left by Robert Goldsborough. C+ An entertaining latter-day entry in the Nero Wolfe series by the author chosen to replace creator Rex Stout.

4. Laura by Vera Caspary. A. Originally published in 1943 and made into a classic film, this is a very nearly perfect murder mystery.

5. Mary Lincoln: Biography of a Marriage by Ruth Painter Randall. B+. A fascinating study of our most misunderstood First Lady. Originally published in the mid-1950s, so some of the language gave me pause, but that makes it an accurate reflection of its time, as well as Mary's.

6. Agatha Raisin and the Terrible Tourist by MC Beaton. C- Number 6 in the series, this wasn't my favorite. It takes Aggie out of her usual setting in the Cottswold and places her in Cyprus, so the small town charm is missing.

7. Camera Girl: The Coming of Age of Jackie Bouvier Kennedy by Carl Sferrazza Anthony. A+. A unique biography of one of the most famous women of the 20th century because it focuses on a very narrow slice of her life: the period between her college graduation and her marriage to Senator John F. Kennedy. She traveled extensively, got engaged to and broke up with a stockbroker, and embarked on a newspaper career she loved. A completely charming book. Made me wish I'd discussed this period of my mother's life with her.

8. Murder in the Ballpark by Robert Goldsborough. C. Another latter-day Nero Wolfe book, penned by Stout's successor. The atmosphere and dialog are right, but the mystery was meh.

9. Hollywood: The Oral History by Jeanine Basinger and Sam Wasson. I appreciated it, but don't know how to grade it. A comprehensive reference book, I inadvisedly read it straight through for my book club and was overwhelmed.

10. She's Not Sorry by Mary Kubica. C+. A thriller set in Chicago, it's good at setting the time/place. I enjoyed it while I was reading it. Then, after it was over, I kept turning the plot holes over in my head. "Hey, but how did ..."

11. My Name Is Barbra by Barbra Streisand. B+. More than 990 pages of Barbra's story told by Barbra. Charming at times, infuriating at others, but always fascinating. A delicious wallow for Barbra buffs.

12. The Doorbell Rang by Rex Stout. B. I returned to Wolfe's brownstone with the series creator, Rex Stout. And yes, it's better with Rex.

13. Any Given Tuesday by Lis Smith. B. A political consultant takes us through 20 years of Democratic campaigns on both the state and national levels. I was fascinated because hers is a life I could imagine myself living -- if I wasn't so cautious. I just wish I liked her more.

Please join us for THURSDAY THIRTEEN. Click here to play along, and to see other interesting compilations of 13 things.

Handsome Is As Handsome Does

My favorite-most ball player Anthony Rizzo is in a slump. This has broken my heart in 1,000 different ways. The owner of the Yankees pretty much called a press conference just to say they weren't going to keep him next year so they can give more money to Juan Soto. I am obsessed. I must be watching/listening when he rises up from this ravine.

It's against this backdrop that I went to volunteer for the local library book sale last night. At this point, all we're doing is sorting donations. You know: FICTION, NON-FICTION, CHILDREN'S, DVDs, CDs. It's neither complicated nor taxing, but it's important.

I volunteered to build boxes. I'm good at building boxes, and we need lots of boxes. It's easy on my back, too. Books are heavy and toting them to and fro can be a strain. Best of all, it's a rather solitary activity. Just me at a table with a palette of flat boxes and a tape dispenser. It gave me an opportunity to keep up with Rizz on the MLB Gameday app. No sound, so I wasn't disturbing the trio of sorters.

One of those sorters was a very nice-looking, age-appropriate man with nice arms and sandy hair. I like men. I liked looking at him. Between him and the ballgame, I was looking forward to a pleasant 2 1/2 hours.

What a jerk he turned out to be! I stacked my newly-built boxes three deep on the floor. More than once he cavalierly kicked them over -- literally, with his foot! -- so he could get closer to the sorting table. He also slid books across the table where I was working, knocking into my phone and water bottle.

At the end of our shift, we all chatted amiably for a few minutes. One woman told us how hard it was to part with the books she donated. I recalled how last year an argument broke out how to categorize In Cold Blood -- non-fiction? classic? true crime? A man in a Sox cap was asking if anyone knew military time as he looked at his parking receipt and tried to calculate what he owed. 

Good Lookin' just wordlessly signed out and went home. Ha! Just for that, I'm not going to fall in love with you.

Rizz went 0-4!

I had to content myself with the fact that I'd given of myself to the community.