Lovely words from the book editors of The New York Times

books nytimes editorial letter


—Letter from the Book Editors
The New York Times Book Review, April 19, 2020


read bookshelf titles

Thanks to my dear friend Sybil.
Btw... the pea-green book
bottom shelf, centerreads: "Always Remember." Even when enlarged, it's hard to read.

lipstick pjs fuzzies"OK … show of hands: how many of you put on MAKE-UP and a nice top—but still have on your PJ BOTTOMS?"

That's Mary Field opening the first ever online meeting of the VILLAGE LIT CHICKS of Lewes, Delaware.

"It seemed to break the ice," Mary told me. "Everyone LAUGHED, and off we went! A pretty good start."

The 12 members met on ZOOM, a web-based video conferencing app. All signed in without a hitch … except for one member. But her HUSBAND came to the rescue. (Try to have one of them around; that, or know where you can find a 12-year-old.)

To facilitate a sense of order, Mary assigned each member beforehand a Discussion Question for the book— Chances Are... by Richard Russo.

It worked. Conversation flowed, and "everyone was respectful—with very little talking over each other," said Mary. The meeting was such a SUCCESS that the club has planned its next for May.

One final bonus: members sent thank-you notes to Mary for her DELICIOUS New England-themed DINNER—bread bowls of clam chowder, with chilled beer and wine, topped off by a dessert of Boston Cream pie—all of which she had planned, NONE of which she had to cook. Good job, Mary!

See Meeting in the Time of Corona—Part I.


oona out of order   unhoneymooners   proposal  
separation axiety   bookish life nina hall   evvie drake starts over  
Click on individual cover images.  

It's a cliche to say reading is transformative. So I'll say it anyway—BOOKS permit us to lose ourselves in time and space. At the height of their powers, they even dissolve the boundary of the self.

These six books, all fairly new, offer something else: they can get you to laugh: a deep throated chuckle… all the way to a LAUGH-OUT-LOUD guffaw.

They're funny, which feels good right now, as we "shelter in place."

corona jokes10

We're worried if not downright panicked. So, of course, GALLOWS HUMOR is on the rise—proof once again that humans will always find a way to laugh in dire times.

Please allow me a DISCLAIMER: 
Many find humor tasteless right now—especially if they've taken ill or know someone who has. But laughter is in no way meant to denigrate the seriousness of the virus or make light of how precarious life has become.

Neuroscience tells us that laughing has a BENEFICIAL affect, triggering the release of endorphins, our brain's natural mood elevator, and suppressing cortisol, a stress inducing hormone.

Above are a few memes that have popped up in my texts and emails, brightening my day.* So please, find HUMOR, share a LAUGH, and feel KINSHIP. We're in this together.

Thanks to my sister, Janet, who always keeps me laughing.

meeting corona

meeting corona google menuWe're all into social distancing, right? And scrubbing hands while singing "Happy Birthday" (twice, yes?).

Book clubs are affected by the VIRUS, of course. So if you haven't canceled future book club meeting(s), you may be doing so soon.

But don't give up. You can still meet using group VIDEO MEETINGS via Skype, Google Hangout, or Zoom. *

The apps are FREE … and will accommodate up to TEN PEOPLE. Zoom will handle more, but limits you to 40 minutes. All are fairly easy to set up.

Follow the app's instructions. If you run into trouble try site Support or Help … or reach out to an 11-year-old (after all, they're not in school).

GOOGLE HANGOUT (see photos)
1. Go to Google's home page
2. Click on the app in the top right corner.
3. Scroll down the menu till you find "Hangout."
4. Click on the icon to open it up.

  SKYPE (click on links below)
1. Go directly to Skype to download the app.
2. Watch this intro video at Tech Boomers. It's not great, but it's better than others.

1. Go directly to Zoom to download the app.
2. Watch this intro video on YouTube. It's pretty thorough.

And there's always Facebook. Facebook launched its video chat in late 2016, but it's limited to 6 PEOPLE at a time (although more can listen in). If you've already set up a private a Facebook GROUP, click on the "video" icon in the upper-right-hand corner to join an ongoing chat or start a new one.

Whatever you decide, dear readers, STAY WELL—and that goes for your families and friends, as well.
See Meeting in the Time of Corona—Part 2

Thanks to my daughter, who's younger than I am… and smarter. This post was at her suggestion.

fantasy1Do the threads of your life feel a little worn? Routines a little DULL? Do you ever dream about "livin' large"?

What about living in a different world altogether? Ever think about that? SURE you do.

All of which is why FANTASY is so addictive: it's a portal into a wild, mysterious otherworldliness—life lived as GRAND EPIC—exactly what most of our lives aren't.

Fantasy authors get it—it's why they're scooping up readers by the shovel-load. I'm talkin' about you, Leigh Bardugo.

But here's what really tickles me about fantasy books: the TITLES, their grammatical structure (oh yeah, and "Blood"). Like these—Children of Blood and Bone… or House of Earth and Blood. Here's the format:

(noun) - OF - (noun) - AND - (noun)

Other titles aren't quite so ramped-up; their STRUCTURE is simpler. Still, they manage to pack a punch—as in Shadow and Bone… or Siege and Storm. This is the format:

(noun) - AND - (noun)

So this got me to thinking—what would it take TO REWRITE some actual book titles, fitting them to the routines and irritants that make up our days? Here's my go:

A Song of Ice and Fire (George R.R. Martin)
A Bag of Ice and Cheetos

Children of Blood and Bone (Tomi Adeyemi)
Children of Blood and Boogers
Teens of Mess and Mayhem

Days of Blood and Starlight (Laini Taylor)
Days of Traffic and Potholes
Nights of Tossing and Turning

Song of Blood and Stone (L. Penelope)
Netflix of Blood and Gore

House of Earth and Blood (Sarah J. Maas)
House of Dust and Dirt
Sink of Pots and Pans

Eagles and Empire  (Alan Smale)
Pigeons and Poop

Shadow and Bone (Leigh Bardugo)  
Sinew and Flab

Siege and Storm (Leigh Bardugo)
Binge and Gorge

Ruin and Rising (Leigh Bardugo)
Bedhead and Biscotti

 Book groups could have fun with this, too. See what you come up.

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