Wet and Aggressive Corella challenges Magpie

Wet and Aggressive Corella challenges Magpie

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

#bestreads2012

I am joining John Wiswell from The Bathroom Monologues in a blog hop about our favourite reads of 2012.  Not necessarily published in 2012, just books we first read this year which for one reason or another we loved.

Regular visitors here will know that I read a lot.  And, as my side-bar will attest, I read quite a wide variety of things.  I almost always have at least two books on the go at any one time.  Usually one is fiction and the other non-fiction.  My fiction choices could come from almost any genre.  Sadly (for what it says about me) murder mysteries seem to be my comfort read of choice.  On the nights when something is churning around in my head and preventing me from sleeping, I turn to murder and mayhem for relief.

My non-fiction preferences are diaries, letters, autobiographies and some biographies (curiosity killed the cat).

In no particular order, five of my favourite books for 2012 are:

The Book of Margery Kempe:  Margery Kempe



This book is reputedly the earliest surviving autobiography in English.  Margery Kempe (c1373-c1440) could neither read nor write and dictated her story late in her life.  I am fairly certain that if she were alive today she would be considered mentally ill, and would probably be locked up for her own protection.
She went mad following the birth of the first of her fourteen children.  Religion arguably restored her reason.  She had regular conversation's with God, with Jesus, the Holy Ghost and the Virgin Mary.  She saw visions and heard voices.   She went on pilgrimages to Europe and the Holy Land.  Her fellow pilgrims found a woman who wailed and wept uncontrollably and flung herself to the ground in churches difficult to handle.  Which I could well understand.  One area where I thought she was not only sane but smart as a whip was her efforts (ultimately successful) to convince her husband to adopt a vow of chastity.
Not always a comfortable read - but fascinating.

The Freedom Writers Diary:  The Freedom Writers with Erin Gruwell


I think that teachers are under appreciated, undervalued and underpaid.  And no, I am not and never was a teacher.  This book starts with a teacher fresh out of teacher training being essentially set up to fail by being given a room full of 'unteachable, at-risk students'.    Not only was she set up to fail, so were her students.  She managed to thwart both expectations.
I found her determination and ingenuity inspirational. 

someone has to set a bad example:  an Ann Taintor collection


This was a gift from a very dear friend and arrived at a shall we say 'challenging' part of the year.  Essentially the book is pictures of women in fifties garb, plus captions.  Some of them are laugh out loud funny.  Others (medicated and motivated for example) made me wince in rueful recognition.



Walter the Farting Dog:  William Kotzwinkle and Glen Murray



This is another book that came into my life just when it was needed, in a very ugly patch indeed.  At a time when I was uncertain whether I wanted to weep or swear, laughter was a wonderful alternative.  And the pictures are wonderful too.  I bought it to give to my great-nephews, read it, and re-read it several times, chuckling all the while.  I have yet to succumb and buy my own copy - but I will.

Letters Between Six Sisters The Mitfords:  Edited by Charlotte Mosley


 I have a passion for the Mitford sisters and have read their own writing and a variety of biographies about them.

They didn't seem to understand the concept of moderation.  In anything.  One or other of the Mitfords seem to know everyone - counting among their friends Adolf Hitler, Queen Elizabeth, President Kennedy, Evelyn Waugh, Charlie Chapman, Dr Spock, Julie Andrews, and the list goes on.  They loved each other, they hated each other and they wrote to and about each other.   And they wrote well.  This was a weighty tome, coming in at nearly 1000 pages, but I devoured it.  Sadly there is now only one Mitford sister still alive, or the letters would assuredly still be exchanged to the delight of nosey voyeurs like myself.

There could have easily been more books on this list, but I decided to stop while I could, and before this became a fifteen page post.






100 comments:

  1. There's nothing like a good laugh in the face of despair. And I so agree with you that a good murder beats the hell out of insomnia - happy holiday EC.

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    1. Zig: Thank you. And it seems a lot of us choose murder over insomnia...

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  2. Merry Christmas to you and your family! :-)

    Greetings from London.

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    1. A Cuban in London: Thank you - and to yours. And a Happy New Year as well.

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  3. I always enjoy seeing what others read. You have a great collection there.

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    1. DeniseinVA: And I bought (whisper) another thirty-two books today.

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  4. My what a wonderful selection of books. I am now nearly completely into fiction and my relaxtion is with thrillers. Murder mysteries and the like. Have read all of Sue Grafton's A-Z books up to T I think was her last one and have this year discovered Lee Child. Perhaps I like him as he was born in Coventry where MOH hails from. I enjoy his easy to read style of writing. Although I do not follow horse racing I have always been a fan of Dick Francis and have all his books which I am currently re-reading in between other books from the library. All my family have been readers....I wonder if that is why the females all talk so much? We just love words!! lol
    Hope your Christmas day went well and you are enjoying the festive season. :)

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    1. Mimsie: Thank you - what would we do without books. I had not thought about the correlations between talking a lot (too much) with books - but you may well have a point. Thank you.

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  5. I LOVE Walter the Farting Dog!!! I was just absolutely delighted to see it on your list.

    Re: Margery Kempe. If I had 14 children I'd be insane as well. My surprise is that she lost her way after child number one - but she carried on to have 13 more children. Lawdy, lawdy...

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    1. Yes, I thought poor Margery was lost early.But that's a very long lifespan for the times!And a good murder works for me too!

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    2. Cathy Oliffe-Webster: It appears that the skinny portion will go back to hospital early next year. I may well buy a couple more from the Walter series to keep me sane. I am not sure that Margery had a great deal to do with the number of children she had. A vow of chastity was inspired.

      dinahmow: Margery did indeed live a very long and in many ways a very rich life. I don't think I would have coped as well as she did.

      Yay for murder mysteries.

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  6. Oh, thank you for the great book reviews! I just finished a book recommended by a fellow blogger yesterday and enjoyed it very much (Under the Banyan Tree by V. Ratner). The author survived the Khmer Rouge and wrote this book which came out this year. I now have some others to put on my list, thanks to you. I think I'll start with the Freedom Writers. Hugs to you for this great Christmas gift. :-)

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    1. DJan: The Freedom Writers Diary is WONDERFUL. It has been made into a movie (which I haven't seen) as well.

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  7. Walter the farting dog reminds of a book I once read called, Fup Duck, it was popular for a brief time, the last book looks intriguing to me, thanks for the recommendations and reviews.

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    1. Linda Starr: I will have to keep my eye out for Fup Duck. And the letters by the Mitford Sisters is truly fascinating. Such different women, such talented writers, such difficult lives...

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  8. I like a quirky book list! This one is fun - I love light books that make me laugh no matter what else I'm reading or doing. Happy New Year!

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    1. Kathleen Cassen Mickelson: I am glad that you enjoyed it. And yes, laughter is always a winner.

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  9. Some interesting reads EC! I can't read much now with the MS eyes. I do love Walter the Farting Dog, which I bought for Beep!

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    1. Karen: I am mostly on top of my MS eyes - for which I am so very thankful. Walter is a LOT of fun isn't he?

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  10. I read Kempe back in college and thought it was very strong, and I agree, very trying, but very engaging.

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    1. John Wiswell: Kempe was all of those things. I was very pleased that the skinny portion thought I would like her. He was right.

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  11. Love this list. I'll refer back when I need a good book to read.

    I thought about you last night while I was watching the game show "Jeopardy" - the question was what country does the cockatiel come from? And I knew! Because of you. All three contestants got it wrong. I felt wonderfully smart.

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    1. Lynn: I am glad that I enabled you to beat Jeopardy.

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  12. I actually find murder mysteries relaxing too!

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    1. Riot Kitty: Bloggers seem to share a lot of things - fondness for cats, love of murder mysteries, and more...

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  13. Check out the movie Freedom Writers which is based on the book The Freedom Writers Diary starring Hilary Swank as Erin Gruwell it is very, very moving indeed and in fact i bought it on DVD to watch again and again and again.

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    1. Windsmoke: I knew that there was a movie - though I haven't seen it. And yes, if it is true to the book it would be very moving indeed. It was an incredible book to read. I will have to look out for the movie.

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  14. I love seeing what other people are reading. There are so many good books in the world, it helps me narrow down my choices! Hope you had a peaceful, restful holiday, EC.

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    1. jenny_o: I am not at all good at narrowing down the list of books I want to read - I agree with you about the number of good books there are. I am not certain I will have time to complete my list as it keeps growing, but I will have a really, really good try.

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  15. a reminder - yet again - that i need to start reading again. and i just might have to start with the "bad example". i've seen a few of these pics, and love them all! merry christmas! here's to a better year ahead!

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    1. daisyfae: Someone has to set a bad example was a lot of fun - and would be a wonderful place to start restoring reading mojo.

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    2. Fabulous collection. I must, must, MUST get that Ann Tainter book. The Farting Dog looks mighty fine as well.

      Here's to 2013 and ALL the WONDERFUL books waiting to be read! Peace...

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    3. Linda: Aren't books a never-ending voyage of discovery? And yes, here is to a 2013 full of them.

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  16. Murder mysteries are my "go to" read as well, currently reading the Lee Child collection and some of James Patterson's, and comedy stories such as the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich etc.
    @Mimsie, Sue Grafton now has U is for Undertow and V is for Vengeance.

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    1. River: The latest Stephanie Plum was one of my (many) Christmas books and I am looking forward to romping through it.

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  17. I wish you happy Holidays and a lovely New Year filled with astonishing, breathtaking new experiences...Kisses.

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    1. unikorna: Thank you. And the same to you. Doubled.

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  18. May I recommend a mystery? No Angel, by Ashna Graves. She's written two mysteries, the first being Death Pans Out. Ashna is not her real name. She's a friend of mine and No Angel is loosely based on real happenings in Corvallis, including the river front park controversy and a character based loosely on me. In the book that character's name is Reba, a homeless woman who cares for cats. The man murdered, at the beginning, was a homeless man I knew, who was murdered by another homeless man I knew. The characters are only loosely based on real life people, like me, however. At first, I was quite taken aback, angry, feeling my stories had been stolen, but it's a good book, well written, so much like my friend, right down to the way she roasts and grinds her own coffee beans in the morning. She says she even mentions Beavis, a big beaver, killed in the river project, whom I knew well, because I lived with a bunch of river dwellers, including Beavis, an otter, some mallard ducks and the river cats.

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    1. Strayer: Oh wow. I will certainly look out for it. Thank you. I can understand your discomfort at having your stories stolen, but am very glad that you felt that she writes well and took the ideas rather than the truth.

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    2. oh Strayer - all that about you is so impressive. I wish I had even just seen an actual live otter. Please think of your stories as 'immortalised" instead of stolen. I am sad for poor Beavis though.

      El Chi: that poor Margery was about 10 kids too slow in getting that vow from Mr Kempe. I bet he went straight out to look for their maid too.
      I have lots of Mitford stuff including that stupungous Letters doorstop. They are quite sweet the way they gloss over their various personal tragedies, the first of which was having both parents as mad as hatters. Debo has stipulated that there be no funeral when she goes. It would be as big as The Queen's, and probably the same week. Debo is no fool.

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    3. Ann O'Dyne: Strayer is a truly impressive woman. She struggles personally and keeps on keeping on providing amazing support for cats (and often for their people as well).
      I have also amassed a lot of Mitford stuff - their own work and autobiographies and biographies. Not only were the Mitford parents barking, their grandparents were as well. It amazed me that the sisters survived. And yes, you are very right about their own tragedies, and there were a lot of them. The 'stiff upper lip' in action.

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  19. Great list---I've taken notes! My own hands down favourite read this year was Major Pettigrew's Last Stand. I also loved The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox......Hope you have a very Happy New Year!

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    1. Molly: I really liked Major Pettigrew's Last Stand as well. And now I will have to look out for The Vanishing Act as well. Thank you.

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  20. Wow! If ever I get the time, I would certainly find Margery Kempe a fascinating read, I will make a note.
    I hope you've both enjoyed a peaceful and (relatively)painless Christmas. Sending love to you both x

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    1. bugerlugs63: So many books, so little time...

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  21. Oh my goodness. What a wide and varied reading collection you have.

    Of course, while Penny the Jack Russell dog and modest internet superstar was reading this post, she 'pawed'attention, sorry, she especially paid attention to "Walter the Farting Dog". Which reminds me, Penny has let off a few turkey type aromas :)

    Peaceful wishes and thanks for your kind support.

    Gary and the cast and crew from my site.
    x

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    1. klahanie: Wide and varied it is - and getting wider all the time.
      All the best to you, to Penny and to Tristan. (And Jazz, and sometimes Jewel could give Walter a run for his money.)

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  22. Do you read the Ruth Galloway mysteries by Ellie Griffiths? I'm hooked - have read all she's written and now am tapping my fingers waiting for the next. Wishing you a Happy New Year, my faraway friend!

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    1. Melissa Ann Goodwin: Another author I had not come across - thank you so much.

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  23. That's quite a list of books. You certainly do love to read. I on the other hand can't sit still long enough.

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    1. Pam:): Books mean a lot to me - and so called essential chores get neglected so I can indulge. Perhaps (just perhaps) I sit still too often...

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  24. What a great variety of different kinds of books! That Ann Tainton one looks hilarious.

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    1. ladyfi: Ann Tainton was hilarious, and apt.

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  25. I am definitely going to read The Book of Margery Kempe. Thanks for tempting me.

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    1. Dave King: Not an easy read, on many levels but I am really, really glad I did.

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  26. I wish I read a lot like you do...I think it is good for the brain to read

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    1. Kim @ Stuff could...: My brain needs all the help it can get. And a bit more. MS brain is not a healthy one.

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  27. Great List, S.

    I love THE FREEDOM WRITERS~

    Have you seen the movie yet?

    I must read about the Farting Dog!

    Love Love Love. Xx

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    1. My Inner Chick: The Freedom Writers Diary blew me away - and the Walter series is hilarious.

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  28. A few of these books are picking my curiosity Soosie and I will be sure to borrow them form the library very soon. Wishing you more beautiful reading for this New Year and lots of love and joy xo

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    1. farawayinthesunshine: Thank you. My reading for the New Year has been assured with both Christmas gifts and my own indulgence at a book store which was going out of business.

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  29. Thank you so much for this, EC - you have inspired me to post my own list :)
    Walter the Farting Dog is one of my 3-yr-old granddaughter's favourites :) - and Margaret Kempe is now on my to-be-found-and-read list.

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    1. Oh - and I add a plug for the Freedom Writers movie - it's good. :)

      Happy New Year...

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    2. Alexia: I am really pleased that you joined John's meme - and will be over to check out your list soon.

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  30. I love a good murder mystery, too, EC...I went on a real crime spree last year and devoured just about everyone I could lay my hands on!

    That Mitford tale is an interesting one...how the other half live!!!

    Happy New Year to you, EC. :)

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    1. Lee: Since my memory is shot (courtesy MS) I can reread murder mysteries as well - I don't remember who died much less who dunnit.
      I wouldn't want to live as the Mitford other half did - but it makes for interesting reading.
      Happy New Year to you and yours.

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  31. Bookstores (now sadly dwindling) and libraries are the best places!
    I often used to visit the fabulous Planet Books in Perth when we lived there. I LOVED that place. So many categories, so many wonderful books begging to be read! Comfy big rolled arm chairs and couches placed around the funky shop, encouraging one to stay a while and delve into the pages... joy ...

    I used to read a lot. Sadly, these days, the minute I hit the pillow with a book, I'm asleep :)

    Those I do pull off the shelves lately, are mostly reference books.

    Although, I do have a few favourites I wouldn't want to part with. Among them is my dog-eared and well loved 'Walden' by Henry David Thoreau.
    And an old, worn, watermarked copy of du Maurier's 'Rebecca' bought from a charity shop when I was eight. It delighted me so with it's atmospheric chills.

    'Walter the Farting Dog' looks hilarious! Jack farts like a human! :D

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    1. Vicki: A bookstore in our local shopping centre is closing today. On Thursday of last week I went down and bought a shameful 32 books. This with my Christmas stash will certainly keep me amused for a while. I also love both of your keepers. And have a few of my own as well.
      If you find Walter - read him. He is a joy.

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  32. i'm so inspired to pick up my book
    and snuggle in for a good long read
    ....thank you!
    and glad thanks, too, for the kind encouraging words
    you splashed on my post at vision and verb:)
    much joy to you, dear shining light:)
    -Jennifer

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    1. Jennifer Richardson: Yours was a truly inspiring post, kindness had nothing to do with my comment.
      I hope that you are able to snuggle in with your book...

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  33. "One area where I thought she was not only sane but smart as a whip was her efforts (ultimately successful) to convince her husband to adopt a vow of chastity."

    A fine read though it may be I shall not be recommending it to my Lissome Lady Lord. I shall, however, perhaps offer her a little book I spotted entitled "Keep fit with pole-dancing". Indeed I have already ordered the pole.

    You and I know what I mean :) Adri... I mean, Andrew

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    1. Don QuiScottie: Letting your inner Adrig out I see :)

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  34. I read Margery Kempe this year. I picked 'Siberian Light' by Robert White in a local charity shop attracted by the cover. I know this is not the way to choose but it turned out to be one of the best reads of the year along with Helen Dunmore's Darkness at Zennor. Loved your list.

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    1. the cuby poet: Thank you - two more books to consider. Riches. Often you can ONLY judge a book by its cover - the art, and the blurb. And it works for me.

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  35. Oh, too funny! I read voraciously too (when I have time, but when I don't I make up for it in a big way once I do), and also prefer losing myself in murder and mayhem mysteries when most stressed! Obviously it's cathartic for some of us. :-)
    Interesting book selection! Margery Kempe, wow. What a case. She went mad after the birth of her first, but went on to have thirteen more? I don't know how sane I'd have stayed after #1, but I'd have been crazy as a shithouse rat by #5, at least! I love your line about her sanity and smarts when it came to convincing her husband to adopt a vow of chastity. Better late than never, I guess!

    I've seen the film "Freedom Writers" based on the book, and I agree it was inspiring!

    I enjoy Ann Taintor's funny captioned artwork, but didn't realize there was an entire book of it. That would be a hoot! And though I'm intimately familiar with farting dogs, I'm not familiar with Walter. :-) Nor with the Mitford Sisters. As I said, an interesting selection! I'm looking forward to making room in my life for reading once again, and wish you many more good books (and far fewer difficult times) in the New Year!

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    1. Laloofah: Margery Kemp didn't seem to be burdened with the care of her children - but I don't think it can have helped.
      I think that if you track down the Walter series you will smile broadly. A pungent farter he is, but he is also a hero as well. And a hero BECAUSE of his farts, not in spite of them. Intrigued?

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  36. Wishing you a year of health, wealth and happiness. Happy New Year 2013! :)))

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    1. Ken.G: Thank you - and to you and yours. I hope your mother's health is much improved.

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    2. Sometimes better, sometimes not - we enjoy all these little moments when is good. Mom has to accustom to living in the new conditions.

      Greetings from cold Poland :)))

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    3. Ken.G: I hope there are lots of good moments to enjoy. I am jealous of your chilly weather as we endure a heat wave...

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  37. Great books, I love Walter the Farting Dog, he looks suspiciously like a dark Lardy and she farts like a bastard all day. Happy New Year to you dearie, here's wishes of love, light, a lack of pain, and much joy. We've earnt it, we are owed! Thank you for being you, a large hug is bestowed upon you *hugs, love M xxx

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    1. All Consuming: Thank you - and right back at you. We had a cat whose farts could strip paint and would wake me with my eyes watering so Walter had additional relevance.

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  38. My favourite books always end up being biographies about women. I am currently working on a book by a woman called Catherine Parr Trail about emigrating to Canada. Last week I read a book by her sister, Susanne Moodie that is also about emigrating to Canada but she had a very different view point than her sister. Also on my night stand are books about Emily Carr, a Canadian artist and author.

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    1. Birdie: I agree with you about biographies/autobiographies of women. Not necessarily famous women either. One which will stay with me was the annotated diary of an American midwife in the mid 1800s. Such a gutsy and inspiring woman. Your current biographies sound really interesting - and I love getting different perspectives on the same events.

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  39. I seldom have time to read a book cover to cover in a reasonable time so the problem I am having now (as an old poop) is remembering what I have already read when I have time to pick the book up again. It is not unusual for me to have to start from the beginning again before I get the gist then can skip ahead to where I left of the first time. Murder, mayhem as long as there is a good mystery that goes with it I am hooked. I think it is because we have to be so well behaved in today's society it is like a catharsis for that part of us that would like to lay into someone or something from time to time.

    As a child my sister and I could never keep a straight face when somebody farted. We had a dog that used to lay under the table and let loose with the silent but deadly version of a fart. I can tell you that we (my sister and I) were sent away from the table many times because of our bad (but hysterically funny) manners. To this day, I have to move away or I will rudely start laughing at somebody else's misfortune. So a farting dog book would make my day :)

    Your choice of books is both interesting and telling. You are a person who is curious, smart and with a thirst for learning ... learning from the conventional to the bazaar and delighting in the availability of both. I bow to your versatility which you demonstrate every time you come to your blog (or mine). It has been my pleasure to share this year with you and I look forward to the coming year ... I have hopes that it will be a good year for both of us.

    Andrea @ From The Sol

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  40. Andrea: Thank you. So much. I am insatiably curious, which is a big part of my eclectic reading. If you get the chance, read one of the Walter books - it won't take long, but I can almost guarentee many smiles. And yes, I have lots of things crossed for the year to come...

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  41. Happy New Year to you and yours! :-)

    Greetings from London.

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    1. A Cuban in London: Thank you - and to you and yours.

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  42. You are an avid reader indeed :). I am a Jane Austen fan and I get to re-read my favorite novels again and again and again. I wish you a new beautiful year with good health and new experiences :). Kisses.

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    1. unikorna: I am also very fond of Jane Austan - and I also read and re-read my favourite books. Some of them many times over. A very, very happy new year to you and yours.

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  43. The time you spend doing what you love to do is never wasted.. its time well spent.. every thing else can wait.

    Wishing you a happy and healthy 2013.. you well deserve it my blogger friend ~:)

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    1. Pam:): Thank you. Some might argue about the amount of time I spend reading, but it keeps me sane(ish).

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  44. What an eclectic, neat array of books! I found your reviews of the Mitford sisters and Margery Kempe particularly interesting. I think I would enjoy both books! And indeed there is always a good time for humor! I hope you are well, my friend!

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    1. runningfromhellwithel: If you can find those books, grab them. They were both fascinating. Not necessarily easy reads - but well worthwhile. Best wishes to you and yours for the coming year(s).

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  45. Hey EC....WOW, I love all your suggestions and you have an amazing amount of comments! I haven't been reading near as much the past few years as I used to. I'm kind of picky, I guess, with what I like....plus been busy writing, as you know! I, too, enjoy good autobiographies about women. I read one this year that I really liked. It is "Call the Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times" by Jennifer Worth. I can't remember where I heard about it or why I even thought I'd like it, but it was wonderful! Jennifer Worth's young life as a Midwife in 1950's "London slums" is fascinating and so beautifully written. There are also three or four sequels! (Recently it was a series on PBS which I only saw bits of once, but it looked very true to the book.)When I can remember any others, I'll let you know! :)

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    1. BECKY: I am very, very lucky and do get a lot of wonderful comments. Your midwife memoir sounds much like one I read last year or the year before about an American midwife in the 1800s. Fascinating. I will have a look for yours as well.

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  46. Hi, EC,

    reading can help us during the darkest nights, can’t it?
    Interesting collection here, but where are the murder mysteries? I too admit to a liking for them, particularly when I’m tired or fed-up or in need of mindless distraction.

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    1. Friko: I really don't know where I would be without the solace of books. I love them. I didn't add in my murder mysteries simply because they didn't fall into the BEST reads of 2012. I do know what you mean about their benefits when mindless (or nearly) distraction is needed though.

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  47. those look EXCELLENT... I will put them on the to-read list at the library!!! THANK YOU!!!!!

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    1. Nicky HW: They were very, very good. You might want to start by seeing if you can get the movie of the Freedom Writers' Diary, which I am told is WONDERFUL.

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