15. Fallon
by Louis L’Amour
A archetypal L’Amour western; the rugged hero, the desert landscape, an evil gang out for vengeance.
Fiction - Western
Appropriate for teens & adults
The Library

A good read; the ending was too abrupt for me, though a bit charming in its brevity. Not a classic, though L’Amour has certainly written some. I came to L’Amour kicking and screaming, but he really is a great writer, dry wit, fabulous at painting a picture, and occasionally really nails human nature with all it’s capacity for valor and selfishness.

Fun Quotes:

People, he told himself, were suckers. The fact that on several occasions he had proved to be one himself only served to illustrate the point.

There was strength in the man, and background too. It showed in so many little things. It shoed in his way of speaking of women, always with courtesy, never indicating familiarity, always with respect. It showed in the way he ate, the way he drank, the manner in which he carried himself. Brennan was not of the gentry, but he knew gentry when he saw them.

He glanced at the two books thrust down into his unstrapped pack -- purposely he had left it open for the last few items. He had always wanted to read more, but there had never seemed to be time. Yet he knew that was not true, either -- there was always time. One simply had to make time, and there was always a lot a man did that was trifling and altogether unimportant.

And then he was dead . . . or he felt like it. Never having been dead, he might have been mistaken.

The Penderwicks on Gardam Street

14. The Penderwicks on Gardam Street
by Jeanne Birdsall
An absolutely charming tale of four sisters and their widowed father.
Appropriate for all ages!
Read aloud to my 10 year old
Middle Grade Fiction
My Library

The second in a series that will eventually have five, three are currently published, this book is a true gem! An absolute joy to read. Birdsall has this amazing ability to make you feel like she wrote this fifty years ago, yet something about is still springing forth with the yellow-green of new spring growth. Fantastic!

Every day my daughter and I would sit down and the time would just fly! She teased me that I would always save her read aloud for last, but it was true - it was my favorite or all the kids’ read alouds and was like the sweet cherry on top of our school day - or occasionally like the savored piece of chocolate at the end of a marathon. (Marathon runners probably don’t celebrate the end of a race with chocolate, but I can’t think of anything else that compares to a really long school day - maybe juggling in the middle of L.A. traffic at rush hour?!)

I didn’t keep track of quotes for this one (sad!) so I searched the web so I could have a few on record:

“Jane,” she said, climbing down from the chair. “Remember last year when I built that model wind tower for you and you wrote those poems for me?'”

“And you said you'd never switch homework assignments with me again.

For good reason. My teacher had a hard time believing I wrote Tra-la the joy of tulips blooming, Ha-ha the thrill of bumblebees zooming. I'm alive and I dance, I'm alive though death is always looming. When I finally convinced her that I had, she asked me if I needed to talk to the school counselor.”


“And I don't know if Batty's gotten over it yet,” said Skye.

Mr. Penderwick looked out the window to where Batty was playing vampires with Hound. Hound was on his back, trying to wiggle out of the black towel Batty had tied around his neck. Batty was leaping over Hound's water bowl, shrieking, “Blood, blood!”

“She looks all right,” he said.


“The referee told me this league has never had a brawl of that magnitude," said Mr. Penderwick after a long, painful silence. "Of course, at the time I was pretending to be a casual passerby and not a father at all.”

[The kitchen] was also messy--delightfully so, thought Jane--and it didn't look as though lots of cooking went on there. There was a laptop computer on the counter with duck stickers on it, the spice cabinet was full of Ben's toy trucks, and Jane couldn't spot a cookbook anywhere. This is the kitchen of a Thinker, she decided, and promised herself that she'd never bother with cooking, either.


Applause never does go on forever...

Civil Disobedience

13. Civil Disobedience
by Henry David Thoreau
Thoreau considers the responsibility of citizens and individuals to act when government is causing injustice.
Appropriate... well for anyone who is interested, I guess!
Read for my Book Colloquia
Printed from a public domain website

I often look back at the mid-1800s and think of it as America’s Eden. Revolution settled, land, health, and personal liberties abounding in the land. I know, this perception has left the territory of idealism and entered the land of fiction where disadvantaged individuals have faded into the some romantic-haze. But leave it to Thoreau to bring me to reality. Turns out, even the privileged had plenty to complain about and people were already terribly dissatisfied with their government.

Thoreau makes an impassioned case for refusing to pay taxes to a government which is actively engaged in wrong-doing, in his time slavery and The Mexican-American War. I find his argument appealing in its clarity and unsullied approach to justice - I like clean lines. But I also think he has greatly over-simplified the impact and difficulty, if not impossibility, of his proscribed course. He’s also a precocious Post-Modernist, but that’s another discussion for another day.

Lots of quotes:

This American government--what is it but a tradition, though a recent one, endeavoring to transmit itself unimpaired to posterity, but each instant losing some of its

Let every man make known what kind of government would command his respect, and that will be one step toward obtaining it.

It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right. The only
obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right.

Others--as most legislators, politicians, lawyers, ministers, and office-holders--serve the state chiefly with their heads; and, as they rarely make any moral distinctions, they are as likely to serve the devil, without _intending_ it, as God.

It is not so important that many should be good as you, as that there be some absolute
goodness somewhere; for that will leaven the whole lump.

They hesitate, and they regret, and sometimes they petition; but they do nothing in
earnest and with effect. They will wait, well disposed, for other to remedy the evil, that they may no longer have it to regret.

Even _voting for the right_ is _doing_ nothing for it. It is only expressing to men feebly your desire that it should prevail.

It is not a man's duty, as a matter of course, to devote himself to the eradication of any, even to most enormous wrong; he may still properly have other concerns to engage him; but it is his duty, at least, to wash his hands of it, and, if he gives it no thought longer, not to give it practically his support. If I devote myself to other pursuits and contemplations, I must first see, at least, that I do not pursue them sitting upon another man's shoulders.

Action from principle, the perception and the performance of right, changes things and relations; it is essentially revolutionary

I know this well, that if one thousand, if one hundred, if ten men whom I
could name--if ten _honest_ men only--ay, if _one_ HONEST man, in this State of Massachusetts, _ceasing to hold slaves_, were actually to withdraw from this co-partnership, and be locked up in the county jail therefor, it would be the abolition of slavery in America. For it matters not how small the beginning may seem to be: what is once well done is done forever. But we love better to talk about it: that we say is our mission. Reform keeps many scores of newspapers in its service, but not one man.
I did not for a moment feel confined, and the walls seemed a great waste of stone and mortar. I felt as if I alone of all my townsmen had paid my tax.

There will never be a really free and enlightened State until the State comes to recognize the individual as a higher and independent power, from which all its own power and authority are derived, and treats him accordingly.


12. Stargirl
by Jerry Spinelli
A surreal story of a free-spirited young girl in the midst of an highly conforming high school culture.
Appropriate for older teens
YA Fiction

A quick read. Otherworldly. Maybe even a bit strange. But it did give me a lot to think about. The evils of conformity were definitely the theme, and our protagonist was a classic Cosmic Humanist heroine. Part hippie, part prophet, sweet, and certainly evolved; and though I’m giving her a hard time, she really is likable, though a bit unsettling.

The question that real stuck with me from this book was the validity of anonymous service. Can you really love and serve without developing a relationship? I mean clearly you can, but is that a worthy goal? I always say serving in secret as being the highest form, and I think there are times when it is; but it does lack the effort and heart-connection of serving those we love, or learning to love and be loved by those we serve.

I would love to discuss this book with a group of bright young people. I think it could be great book club material, for teens, and adults too.

A couple of quotes:

We wanted to define her, to wrap her up as we did each other, but we could not seem to get past "weird" and "strange" and "goofy." Her ways knocked us off balance. ”

She was elusive. She was today. She was tomorrow. She was the faintest scent of a cactus flower, the flitting shadow of an elf owl. We did not know what to make of her. In our minds we tried to pin her to a corkboard like a butterfly, but the pin merely went through and away she flew.

She was bendable light: she shone around every corner of my day.

Papa Married a Mormon

11.Papa Married a Mormon
by John D Fitzgerald
Set in Utah during the years surrounding statehood, this captivating tale is inspiring, engaging, and often seriously funny!
Appropriate for older teens & adults
The Library

My Favorite Quotes:
The refusal of his openly to mouth is agnosticism stemmed from the fact that he was a gambler and considered it an “ace in the hole.” Since he never spoke out against God, if by chance there should be a God, it would be in his favor on Judgment Day.

Father O’Leary said, “The Catholic Church is the Mother Church and all religions are windows in the Mother Church. And if you break one of these windows, you desecrate the Mother Church.”

Uncle Will shook his head. “This is a tough country. It needs a lot of taming and civilizing. Life is cheap here and a man must fight for his life. I’ve killed eight men since coming West. I admit there’s a need for men like you here, but all men must stand on their own feet. If I knew a man was going to kill you in a fair and square gun fight I wouldn’t interfere. I’d have to let him kill you. I’d kill him later, but I couldn’t prevent him from killing you. That is our code out here, and you live and you die by it.”

He had learned that all Mormons excelled in three things, riding, dancing, and dexterity with firearms.

“I must know why every strange dog that sees you wags its tail and follows you home. I must know why everybody in this town from the Mormon Bishop down to the lowest drunkard, loves you. I must know why people when they mention your name seem to speak it as if they were speaking the name of a saint. I must know what it is that makes everybody love you and want to be your friend, except myself. When I have found the answers to these questions, then I shall return.”