We Have Always Lived in the Castle – by Shirley Jackson

A truly odd story. Perhaps it goes some to explaining the mysterious spinster sisters who lived in that odd house in your neighborhood. An interesting look into a fantastical and insane mind, and her enabling sister.

Finished 11/1/19

bookmark: murder out of turn

Murder Out of Turn – by Frances Lockridge and Richard Lockridge

This is the second book in the Mr. and Mrs. North mysteries. I read the first book in the series a couple of months ago. Obviously it was entertaining enough to warrant reading the second book.

This book carries over many of the characters from the first book, which gives it some nice continuity. The story involves the murder of two women at a lake where several of the characters have cabins, including the Norths (thus their involvement again).

Again, this is a “fun” mystery book and I will keep the series in mind when I’m looking for another mystery to read.

Finished 10/11/19

The Good Life According to Hemingway – by A. E. Hotchner

I make no excuses for liking Hemingway. I’ve read much (most?) of his work and would happily read more. This book is not a Hemingway story, nor is it a story about Hemingway, but rather Hemingway quotes as recalled by his friend A. E. Hotchner, as well as old photographs of Hemingway.

This is not a very long or difficult book, but it is interesting, providing additional insights into Hemingway’s character and life philosophy. If you like Hemingway and enjoy biographical information about your favorite authors, this is worth reading.

Finished 9/19/19

bookmark: tune in tokyo

Tune In Tokyo:The Gaijin Diaries – by Tim Anderson

I’ve had a bit of a fascination with Japan. I suppose it’s because of the differences in our cultures, though perhaps it is in part because of my son’s interest in Japanese sword arts. I accompanied him to lessons and read Musashi and other similar books while I was waiting for him. Or maybe I think Japanese girls are cute (insert dirty old man emoji here).

When I came across this book, which is about an American who moves to Japan to teach English and his experiences there, I thought it would be an interesting introduction to what it would be like to live there. It was, in spite of the author being gay and having a slightly different perspective than I.

It’s extremely unlikely that I will ever visit, let alone live in, Japan, but it still was interesting to see Japanese culture in their own country through the eyes of an American. If you are uncomfortable with sexual references you might not appreciate this book, but I don’t have that hang up. If I was a younger man, after reading this book I might give Japan a visit. For right now, just reading about it is enough.

Finished 9/6/19

bookmark: the norths meet murder

The Norths Meet Murder – by Frances Lockridge and Richard Lockridge

The older you get, the more you know. Not because you are necessarily more educated, but because you have simply lived long enough to have been exposed to years of popular culture. To me, people like Bob Hope and George Burns have relevance, whereas my grand-nieces and nephews have absolutely no idea who they are. Well, I just came across something that I knew nothing about, even though it was very popular even when I was a kid. That is the series of mystery books based on the characters of Mr. and Mrs. North. Not only was it a popular book series, it was a popular radio show, early television show, play and a movie.

I don’t recall where I first heard of these books, but I thought they sounded like they could be entertaining. Of course, in a series of twenty-six books, I wanted to start with the first one. Nothing worse than jumping into the middle of a series. This first book in the series was written in the 1930s and it was fun seeing the culture of the time through the book.

Was this “fine literature?” No, but it was entertaining. It was fun getting to know the main characters, and all the other characters for that matter. It involves a murder that happened right above the North’s apartment. Indeed, they discovered the body, which created the opportunity for their involvement. If you are a mystery book person, I think you would enjoy this series.

Finished 8/17/19

bookmark: life expectancy

Life Expectancy – by Dean Koontz

It is a pretty rare occasion that I get wrapped up enough in a book to want to do nothing but read it, but this book fell into that category. I had read a blurb about the book that piqued my interest. It said that the main character’s grandfather made a death-bed prediction of five terrible days that his grandson would experience in his life, and had made this prediction at the same time that his grandson was being born. That short summary was enough for me to check the library for an available copy, and once into the book, the story just pulled me along.

Dean Koontz is a well-known author who has written many books. I must confess that I have not read any of his books before this (though I do seem to recall possibly reading one long ago, but would not swear to that) but will definitely seek out his other books when the urge hits for a really good story. I would expect his other books to be as good.

Likable characters – even the bad guys had their good points – and a fast moving plot kept me glued to the book. A appealing life’s philosophy added to the appeal of the book. And, hoping not to be a spoiler here, an ending that didn’t disappoint helped a lot. To finish a book in two days is practically unheard of for me, but that’s how much I enjoyed the book. I better allow for that when I read another book by Mr. Koontz.

Finished 7/28/19

The Marvelous Misadventures of Ingrid Winter – by J.S. Drangsholt

I would prefer to not keep company with the main character of this book, nor anyone within her business sphere. If you are into addle-brained, neorotic, self-centered people, you may like her, but I’ll take a pass. There were too many times reading this book when I wanted to reach out and slap Ingrid Winter up the side of the head in a most likely failed attempt to wake her up out of her self-absorbed existence.

On the other hand, the book was easy to read. The educational system political machinations that form a large part of the plot to this book surely come from the author’s personal experiences as a teacher and ring true, the same as office politics in any business. In the end, I did finish the book, so I guess it wasn’t too terrible sticking it out.

To each his own, I suppose. Maybe I’m not Norwegian enough to appreciate the story, which was originally written in Norwegian. Let’s mark it up to that, rather than weariness of reading about a woman who will probably never get her shit together in life.

Finished 7/26/19

how long before?

It’s not like it was a new thought, but it hit me pretty hard. I was thinking, hmmm, my mother died at the age of seventy-two. If I were to die at that same age, that would mean that I only have three years left on this earth. Holy Shit! Three years? Do you know how short three years is? And at my age, there’s no guarantee that I have even that long. Let’s assume that I live to eighty-two, like my dad did. That still means only thirteen more years – better, but no brass ring. So what do you do with a thought like that?

First, I’ve already accepted the idea that I’m going to die. That was a tough one, and by “accepted” I mean that I understand the reality of it, not a willingness to go gentle into that good night. No one gets out of here alive. But that acceptance doesn’t mean, “Ho-hum, I guess I’ll just sit here waiting for the ol’ Grim Reaper.” No, it’s more a slap upside the head that says “Hey, DO SOMETHING!”

Why is it that the bucket list gets longer as life gets shorter? I want to do things now that I never wanted to do before, and that includes things that I haven’t a prayer in hell of doing, given the aging of my abilities. Even given the physical ability to do something, you must consider whether you really have enough life left to do some of those things, particularly when it comes to monetary investments. No sense buying a grand piano because the likelihood of becoming a concert pianist in your lifetime is – let’s face it – impossible. However, I would never piss on someone’s dream to accomplish that goal, even at my age, but I might suggest just renting a piano, or buying an inexpensive keyboard.

Anyways, it’s back to actually doing something instead of griping about the limitations imposed by age, and realizing that the limitation isn’t so much your age, but your attitude. I guess mine can use a little adjustment.

bookmark: will not attend

Will Not Attend: Lively Stories of Detachment and Isolation – by Adam Resnick

Okay, I laughed out loud while reading most of this book. Mr. Resnick is a bit of a misanthrope, and I can relate. I particularly like the bit about going to Disney World. However, his description of the family life of his youth left me thinking that no person should have to grow up like that, and that it explained a lot about his current attitude towards life and people. That chapter in the book was depressing and, while it provided relevant background, it was in no way humorous. Once again, I was reminded of how fortunate I have been in much of my life. Still, the rest of the book was snarky and funny. If you’ve got an attitude, too, you might appreciate it.

Finished 7/3/19

bookmark: the spectator bird

The Spectator Bird – by Wallace Stegner

I really enjoyed this book. It was like one old man talking talking to another – the author to me. I fully sympathized with the story. There’s not much good to say about getting older, and Mr. Stegner had a handle on that. I’m not sure if this book would appeal to a younger person. You really almost have to have experienced some of the things he writes about to fully appreciate it.

But more than some grouchy old man complaining about aging, the story is about the constant search for ones self. Sometimes it feels like you are going through life like some “spectator bird,” watching your life pass buy like a remote observer rather than as a direct participant. Feeling like so much of your life has been lived by default instead of by purpose and choice. Constantly searching for the meaning of your life, and then having to come to grips with the likelihood that you will never find that meaning.

Truth be told, the meaning has been there all along, but for some people it is extremely difficult to see. Even catching a glimpse of that meaning from time to time does not satisfy that desire, that longing, to feel like you have had a purpose in this world, other than the responsibilities you have taken on in the course of living. Perhaps they are one and the same, but I can relate to the author’s feeling that someplace, sometime, one will discover the meaning of ones life, and that the search will likely never end.

Finished 6/29/19