Talking About Books . . .


If you are “of a certain age,” you probably have one or more coffee tables books containing prints of some of Norman Rockwell’s paintings.  Rockwell’s paintings generally picture America as the land of the good and kind.  One painting shows a kindly old doctor listening to the heartbeat of a little girl’s doll.  Another depicts a “typical” family gathered around the table ready to enjoy a Thanksgiving turkey dinner together.  I don’t know if such an America ever existed, but I would like to think that it did – somewhere at some point in time.

Less well-known is the Norman Rockwell who was driven to paint about the darker side of American life.  He was socially conscious, and wanted to express his feelings in his art, but magazines like The Saturday Evening Post didn’t want that sort of thing on their magazine covers.  It clashed with the mood they were trying to create for their readers.  Upsetting people might lead to lower magazine sales.

An article at the Pop History Dig website delves into both sides of Rockwell.  I highly recommend it to you, and I hope you will explore other articles at the site while you’re there.

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Cesar Millan, known as The Dog Whisperer, has been teaching us about how to understand and handle unruly dogs for years.  Nevertheless, I was quite surprised when I saw that he is now advocating the use of audio books to keep dogs calm and happy while their humans are away.  Is he serious?  Absolutely.  You can get a free 53 minute audio book from Audible to find out more about his theory.  He has also chosen lists of audio books that he thinks might be just right for your pooch.  I’ve listened to his sales pitch, but I’m still not convinced that anyone should spend money buying audio books for their pets.  However, a lot of sound information about how a dog’s mind works is mixed in with his spiel, so I recommend that you get the audio file – especially since it’s free and only requires that you have an Audible app, which is also free, in order to hear it.

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Classic Crime

If you love crime novels, you must read Michael Dirda’s Washington Post column about the best crime novels of the first half of the 20th century, and about two books that have to do with them.

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Fodor’s Travel has released a list of the 10 best new museums in the world.  First on the list is the American Writer’s Museum in Chicago.  Another of the top 10 is The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum in Springfield, Massachusetts. There is a brief description of each museum listed along with a link to the homepage for each.

Speaking of Dr. Seuss, you may be interested and surprised by what he did during his early career.  You can find out what he did here.

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Could you write a short story in only six words?  Hemingway did: “For sale: Baby shoes. Never worn.”  You don’t get the whole story, but your mind creates a story line that fits those six meager words, doesn’t it?  That’s genius.  And what you imagine probably makes you sad.

According to The New Yorker Hemingway was so pleased with the response to his six-word story that he wrote some sequels to it.  I assumed that something tragic happened to the baby before it could wear the shoes, but Hemingway’s stories make me think that I was totally mistaken.

Quirk Books recently featured 15 six word Hemingway-esque short stories.  Note: these stories were not written by Hemingway.

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A Lesson Before Dying

Looking for Something to read?  Southern Living magazine has a list of recommended novel associated with each state plus what you might call “runner-up” selections for each state.

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You can thank Alfred A. Knopf book editor Judith Jones when you read Ann Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl and Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child.  Frank’s book, which had been published in Europe but not the United States, was about to be rejected by Knopf when Jones picked it up and read it.  She knew immediately that it had to be published in the U.S.  The 2009 movie Julie and Julia tells the story of Child’s entry into the world of famous chefs.  The movie starred Meryl Streep as Julia Child and Erin Dilly as Judith Jones.  Jones recently died at the age of 93.  USA Today has an article about Jones’ long, illustrious career.

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