List of Links September 2018

The 22-year-old Who Wrote Barack Obama’s Letters

Writing in someone else’s voice is a talent. When I first started my virtual assistant business, I did newsletters for a couple of clients and wrote much of the copy. I cannot imagine trying to do that for someone as well-known as the President, much less doing it at such a young age. I found this a fascinating story.

The Communist Cookbook That Defined Prague’ Cuisine 

I remember hearing about Prague in the 1990s and early 2000s as an inexpensive but cosmopolitan city, up-and-coming from it’s communist past. But I never heard anyone talk about the food there. Perhaps this article explains why.

The Wild Alaskan Island That Inspired a Lost Classic

One hundred years ago, Rockwell Kent and his son arrived in Alaska and settled in a cabin on a small, wooded island near Seward. A painter, Kent spent his nights writing letters that eventually become a book. If you are fascinated with life in the wilderness, take a look at the drawings and read the article. FYI – the island is still wooded but is partially owned by a tourism company that charges over $1200 for a night’s stay.

Building a Personality From 100-Year-Old Photographs

Writing fiction means creating characters. Each writer has their own method(s) for doing this, and using images from the period is one of them. Nuala O’Connor shares how photos helped her get into the personality of a known person who was in her fiction.

Nine “Striking” Facts About The History of The Typewriter 

I learned to type on a manual Underwood typewriter my mom had, then used electric typewriters for typing class in high school and a variety of jobs until personal computers took over. Though I’m quite happy to work on my laptop keyboard, there is nothing like typing on a typewriter keyboard. Here are some interesting facts about the history of the typewriter. I especially liked #4 – Mark Twain was the first writer to submit a manuscript that had been typed.

Enough With The Victors Writing History 

It was a frequent reminder in my university history classes (I was a history major after all): history is written by the victors. We may never be able to find the stories that were lost or pushed aside, but I believe it is important to at least question what is missing from the history books.

The Not-So-Hidden Racism of Nancy Drew

I have mentioned before how much I enjoyed reading the Nancy Drew series when I was growing up. This was the mid-to-late 1970s so the copies I read were the revised ones, where many of the people of color have been removed, and the one dominant one is the housekeeper. I don’t know that I found it odd when I read it because I knew families in my hometown in south Arkansas who did have an African-American housekeeper or cleaner. The overriding question, however, is what place do these books have in the world today? Do we make all versions available or not? Do we edit them again or leave them as a reflection of the time they were written in? There are no easy answers, but the questions are valid ones to consider.

18 of the World’s Most Striking Libraries, Illustrated

Would you even know these were libraries?

The Adventures of America’s Most Well-Traveled Bookstore

Not only do I think this is a wonderful idea to have a traveling library, but I may have added an item to my bucket list!

Why You Should Read This Article Slowly

While I love to get lost in a book, taking in every word on the pages, I also skim a lot. It can be helpful to quickly look at something and see if we want to engage with it further. However, how often do we really take the time to read slowly, to be sure we are getting all of the story?

14 Awesomely Disturbing Community Cookbooks

My mom had a couple of these, put together by the Women’s Group at a church. There were some good recipes in them, and I also remember a few that held strange names or seemed to be just wrong. This article brought back wonderful memories and quite a few laughs. Enjoy!

List of Links August 2018

Below are links to interesting articles I found during the month of August 2018. An interesting theme appeared this month: libraries, book, and reading. There’s also a couple of spy stories and a republished cookbook that can teach you to cook like a suffragette! Enjoy.

‘Spectacular’ ancient public library discovered in Germany

While excavating in Cologne, the remains of the oldest public library in Germany were discovered in 2017. Initially unsure what had been uncovered, the realization that the niches were designed to hold scrolls led to identifying it as a library. I’ve been to Cologne twice, and always loved exploring the city…now there’s something new to see.

The Weirdest Libraries Around The World

Think you know what a library should look like? Think again!

10 Animals Who Have Broken Into the Library

For something fun! Plenty of critters have found their way into libraries.

Buddy, The Library Isn’t A 7-11

But that doesn’t stop patrons from acting like it is…

The Crack Squad of Librarians Who Track Down Half-Forgotten Books

I love a good mystery so, although I’m sure I’d get quite agitated with the minimal clues some patrons give, I’d probably enjoy the hunt to find answers to the questions these librarians are asked.

Being A Victorian Librarian Was Oh-So-Dangerous

Most of my life the majority of librarians I’ve known have been women. But in the mid- to late- 19th century, women were expected to stay home, and this article talks about the traumas that awaited women who worked in libraries.

Who Decides What’s Tacky Anyway?

The origin of the word “tacky”,  how it came to define bad taste and why that word became associated with the fashion of the 1970s. I’m old enough to remember the 1970s…anyone else?

The Draconian Dictionary Is Back

A dictionary deemed “subversive”? That’s what happened in 1961 with the release of  Websters Third New International Dictionary. Read to find out what the kerfuffle was all about.

French Bookstore Invites Its Instagram Followers To Judge Books By Their Covers

The photos they share are fascinating – take a look!

Reading A Book Takes Time – Deal With It

Would you rather have your books released as a serial, one “episode” at a time? That is a trend developing, and if it encourages people to read then I am fine with it. The author of the article, however, takes exception. I will add that some days I’m doing good to get one chapter read. Then there are the days when I have more time and get pulled into a book and read for hours. I would hate to lose the ability to do that.

“Pie For A Doubting Husband”: How To Cook Like A Suffragette

Cookbook lovers take note: A cookbook released in 1915 to raise money for the suffragette movement has been reissued.

Why More Boys Don’t Read Little Women

This is a long article, but I encourage you to take the time to read through it. It about much more than Little Women not being assigned reading anymore.

The Way We Read Now

PBS has an initiative going on, “The Great American Read”, which released an alphabetical list of the 100 favorite works of fiction. What is interesting, according to this article from the Wall Street Journal, is that few works of what is often considered the height of American literature made the list. It seems, the article suggests, that Americans are more interested in reading a good story than what is considered “great” writing. (Note to self…make sure when I write I tell a good story!)

Clothing Britain’s Spies During World War II

During WWII, spies sent to another country needed to blend in, and in a time before mass-produced clothes, each country, even each region, had their own way of making clothes. So Britain used clothing produced by refugees to meet the demand.

The Women Code Breakers Who Unmasked Soviet Spies

I enjoy puzzles, but breaking code is far above anything I can do. This is a fascinating look at the women involved in Cold War efforts to break codes and find Soviet spies. While many of the men involved have been profiled, the women have not. As the article notes, most of them never talked about the work they did.

Writers Have Always Loved Mobile Devices

I enjoy moving to different locations to write and have a bag set up with many of the tools I will need. Turns out, long before there were laptops and tablets, other writers had their own version of a mobile workspace.

Can Crime Fiction Help Combat the Opioid Crisis?

As I writer, I want to think my work can make a difference, be it educating or entertaining. The article writer hopes that focusing on the opioid crisis in her crime fiction will bring attention and solutions for the drug problem devastating her home state (and the country).


List of Links June 2018

I read a lot. One of the best ways to be a better writer is to read, and I take that advice seriously! There is a lot out there to read, and as someone who is curious to learn about new things, I always have a lot of links to check out. When I find something good, I want to share. I put 4-5 links in my monthly newsletter (click here to subscribe), but there are more I share on Twitter and Facebook. This type of post will be a monthly feature where I share the most interesting, entertaining and enlightening links I’ve come across the past month. Sometimes I’ll add some comments, sometimes I’ll let the story speak for itself. I hope you enjoy them, and please, share anything interesting you have found in the comments.

So, without further delay, here is the List of Links for Curious Minds from June 2018.

Why You Should Become A Literary Tourist

Great idea for your next trip – plan to visit libraries in locations you go to! Should be interesting to see the differences – and similarities – of libraries throughout the world.

America’s First Female Map Maker

I love maps! GPS can be handy, but I still prefer to plan road trips, whether across town or cross-country, with a paper map. (You can read about one of my map reading adventures later this month). So this naturally caught my eye. In the early 19th century, Emma Willard, an educator, used maps to help teach history in new and creative ways.

Finding Peace at the Rothko Chapel

I’ve been lucky enough to visit the Rothko Chapel, 25 years ago on a one-day whirlwind trip to Houston with a grad school class. This article reminded me of the peace and calm I felt inside. In this article, the author shares what the Chapel has meant to him in his life in Houston, Texas.

The Bats Help Preserve Old Books But They Drive Librarians, Well, Batty

There are many unique things you can find in libraries around the world, but bats that eat the bookworms (thereby helping protect the books) is a strange one indeed. The bats have turned into a tourist attraction, frustrating the librarians who want this library known for its wonderful collection. I’ll be honest, if I happened to be nearby, I would definitely stop in to see the bats!

How Isaac Newton’s Apple Tree Spread Across The World

Part science, part history, this article explains how the apple tree that is thought to have inspired Sir Isaac Newton’s to develop the theory of gravity has spread across the globe. The variety, Flower of Kent, has been spread by cloning by grafting while others have been grown from seeds from the apples the tree produces. Best of all, take a look at the map and see if there is one near you!

The Gnarled History of Los Angeles’ Vineyards

Did you know Los Angeles was once known as the “city of vines” because winemaking in California was centered there? Neither did I. Then again, how many of us have heard of the intersection of Hollywood and Vine? I have but never associated the Vine with grape vines.  Some of the original vines have been discovered and this article looks into a part of Los Angeles’ past and how it changed as the city grew.

Less, More, None

What a great concept! This writer keeps a list of what he wants to do less of, more of, and none of. This might be a good way to evaluate where you are midway through the year, and a good way to start setting goals going forward.

The Adventurous Writer Who Brought Nancy Drew To Life

I was a huge Nancy Drew fan in my early teens and given I still love to read adventure and mystery books, obviously struck a chord with me. I enjoyed learning more about the woman who first brought her to life. Take a look and see if you agree with me that Mildred Benson’s own life may have influenced the character she helped create.

How We Discovered Three Poisonous Books In Our University Library

We explore books in libraries to expand our knowledge, not to be poisoned! However, old books may contain substances, especially used for color, now know to be dangerous. Read to see how arsenic was discovered in three books in a library in Denmark.

This Musician’s Songs Give Voice Powerful Voice to a Language in Crisis

I’ve always struggled to learn another language, so the very fact that she can communicate in multiple languages impresses me. The fact she is trying to preserve her native tongue through her music is impressive. It also makes me wonder how many languages (and dialects) are in the world, and how many have already been lost.

When Americans Started Bathing

Mid-19th century saw a change in Americans attitudes toward bathing. Thanks to improving technology, what many of us consider a daily routine (bath or shower) was becoming more fashionable. Which makes me wonder…what on earth did it smell like to be in a room full of people before then???

Is It A Problem If Kids Don’t Know How To Use Dictionaries?

When I was growing up, if I asked my dad how to spell a word, his reply was “look it up.” As mentioned in this article, I often looked at the words around the one I was looking for, yet these days, if I need to check the spelling of a word, I’ll often google it. Still, I am grateful that I know how to look things up, and how fun it can be to check other listings nearby. You never know what you will learn!

Do America’s Reading Habits Explain Today’s Lack of Clear Thinking?

I suspect I’m like many of you and have always loved to read. It has been an escape from bad times, a way to entertain myself when alone and bored, and has provided me with an ongoing education. Looking at the chart, my average daily reading is well above my age group, and I hope it never decreases. I also realize that some people just do not enjoy reading. No great thought on this, just found the article interesting.

That’s this month’s list of links. Please share in the comments any interesting links you have found.

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Libraries and Me

Public Library Camden Arkansas

I have used the library most of my life, starting with the Public Library in Camden, Arkansas.* Momma checked out books for me until, when I was about seven or 8, she took me to get my own library card. We climbed the steps to the red brick building, pushed open the heavy door, and stepped inside. As always, I immediately noticed how quiet it was, hearing only the sounds of hushed voices and the librarians checking in and reshelving books. Approaching the desk, Momma told the librarian I wanted to get my own library card. She smiled, took my name, completed the paperwork, and handed me my card with a reminder to bring it with me when I wanted to check out books.

I then headed to the children’s section to slowly look through the shelves of books. While I had books at home to read, the library gave me a larger selection to explore, and I believe having access to them helped grow my interest in reading. Finally selecting a few new ones along with some favorites, I carried them to the desk and handed them and my card to the librarian. She removed the check out cards, stamped them with the return date, and handed the books back to me, telling me to enjoy them. I walked out feeling very grown up.

As I got older, there were fewer trips to the library. I amassed quite a collection of Nancy Drew Mystery Stories, which I read and reread, and romance novels. By high school, English classes required reading many classic works, and with other homework, left little time for pleasure reading. This situation only worsened when I was in college and graduate school. By now, trips to the library were to conduct research for school projects. This was the 1980s before you could find information with an internet connection and a few clicks of a computer mouse. I would wander through the stacks for the books I needed, carefully checking what was located on either side of it, a tip I learned from a professor that I continue using today. Sometimes what I needed was stored on microfilm or microfiche, or was located in a specialized library elsewhere on campus. Other times the resource wasn’t available locally but could be obtained through interlibrary loan, another wonderful service offered by libraries. I cannot count the hours I spent researching and studying in libraries as a young adult. The quiet atmosphere, which I had first noticed as a child, was the perfect change to department study rooms or cramped student housing. Living in England for a year, I researched my Master’s degree thesis in a nearby library, soaking up the history that surrounded me.

In my mid-30s, I moved to a new city as a stay-at-home mom with a four-year-old child. I had time to read for pleasure again, and went to the local library to find books for both of us and to pass on the tradition of exploring shelves to find new things to read. The nearest branch was located in a converted 1903 school building. Our footsteps echoed as we walked down the wood floor until we reached the old door that creaked as we opened it. Inside was the room that housed the library. While small in size, it offered a good selection that was regularly rotated with other books from the library system, as well as Children’s Story Time every Wednesday afternoon. Several years later, a new branch was built, replacing the cramped space in the school building and providing a larger selection of books, plenty of room to sit and read, and ample parking. It was wonderful to be able to find more books close to home, yet I missed the coziness of the previous location, perhaps a reminder of the small library I had frequented as a child.

Moving to Daytona Beach, I quickly got a library card and took advantage of other City Island branch, Volusia County Librarythings the local library offered: free wi-fi when my apartment didn’t have it, a quiet place to work, and DVDs to borrow and watch. Even after I moved and had internet access, I continued using the library, both in person to check out books, and from my computer at home to download books to read on my Kindle. Like many things, I took it for granted, thinking the library would always be there. Then Hurricane Irma blew through in the early morning hours of September 11, 2017, the rain and tidal surge flooding many buildings downtown, including the local library that I use. Seven months later, it is still closed, and I have missed having a library close by, being able to stop in and check out books to take home and browse the shelves of books for sale to find new treasures for my collection.

The latest report is the library plans to reopen in May. I hope so. Libraries have always been in my life, playing a variety of roles as my life has changed. I hope there is always a library nearby.

What role have libraries played in your life?

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*The photo of my hometown library in Camden, Arkansas was taken in late December 2010. Six months later, the library caught fire one night and was destroyed. The library was rebuilt in a new location.


Book or Movie – Which Do You Prefer?

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A River Runs Through It was on TV recently. I have always enjoyed this movie, for its gorgeous images of fly fishing in Montana rivers, and for the story of a father and his sons connecting while fishing those rivers. As I listened to Robert Redford narrate the closing line – “I am haunted by waters” – I remembered I had not yet read the book. The next day I logged into the local library and downloaded the book.*

What a wonderful read! Norman Maclean is a gifted storyteller, and the written version surprised me with the humor he used to describe people and events, a talent I hope to develop. This is one instance I enjoyed both the book and the movie, which is not what I usually experience.

A couple of years ago, I came across Robert Ludlum’s The Bourne Identity ebook on sale. I enjoy the Bourne movies and wondered what details the book could supply to fill out the story. While I did get more information, I also found the book moved slower than the movie, with much of it involving Bourne and Marie talking through things, trying to help Bourne regain his memory. I have to wonder how I would have felt about the book if I had read it prior to seeing the movie. Would my opinion of both been different?

I read each book in the Harry Potter series before seeing the movie version of each. I loved the world created by J.K. Rowling in the books, and while I enjoyed seeing that world come to life in the movies, I also knew how much had been left out, how scenes had been shortened so the movies were kept to a reasonable length. I always left the movies wondering if people who had not read the books fully understood what was going on.

So why bother watching the movie version? Because I am a visual person, and I love physically seeing the world created by an author. While it isn’t always what I had imagined in my mind, it still appeals to me to see how a story is portrayed in a film. If I read the book after I see the movie, I visualize the scenes based on what I saw in the movie. Yet, I will also continue to read the book that movies I enjoy were based on, to fill out the story, get details left out and understand the characters better.

Do you prefer to read the book or watch the movie? If you do both, do you prefer to do one before the other?

*The book is titled A River Runs Through It and Other Stories, which consists of 2 novellas and a short story.

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