Category Archives: book lovers

Weekly Photo Challenge: Silent


Rare book, National Library, Victoria

1. Each week, we’ll provide a theme for creative inspiration. You take photographs based on your interpretation of the theme, and post them on your blog (a new post!) anytime before the following Wednesday when the next photo theme will be announced.

2. To make it easy for others to check out your photos, title your blog post “Weekly Photo Challenge: (theme of the week)” and be sure to use the “postaday″ tag.

3. Follow The Daily Post so that you don’t miss out on weekly challenge announcements, and subscribe to our newsletter – we’ll highlight great posts. Add Media photos from each month’s most popular challenge.

Just a few wonderful posts:

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Posted by on January 17, 2018 in book lovers, rare books, The Reading Life


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2018 Reading Challenge


I’ve made up a reading challenge for myself. I have done‘s challenges where I read a certain number of books per month. This time I’m adding some themes and other specifics to spice things up.

Susan’s 2018 Reading Challenge

January – read a memoir and another book that’ll help me change my outlook (i.e. achieve a resolution)

February – read a 19th century novel and a religious book

March – read a book written by a Russian author

April – read a play by Shakespeare and commentary in a Norton Classic edition

May – read a detective story

June – read a book of historical fiction

July – read a travel book

August – read a humorous book

September – read a book by a Japanese author

October – read something scary

November – read a book a friend has recommended

December – read a children’s book and a story or book with a Christmas theme

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Posted by on January 1, 2018 in book lovers, British Lit, British literature, Children's Lit, fiction, French Lit, humor, non-fiction, play, Travel Writing


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The Book of Will


What a fun play! Written by Lauren Gunderson, The Book of Will at the Northlight Theater till December 17th tells the story of how without the effort of his friends, we wouldn’t have an authentic collection of William Shakespeare’s plays. In 1620 after Will had passed on, his friends were fed up with bad Shakespearean plays. Some were bad versions patched up with garbled versions of the plays made from copyists in the audience who tried to take down everything that was said. Some were just plays written by hacks who tried to copy Shakespeare’s style.

The play begins in a pub near The Globe theater where three of Shakespeare’s friends Richard Burbage, John Heminges, Henry Condell, actors from the King’s Men’s troupe and Condell’s daughter Elizabeth bemoan the horrible fakery that passes for Shakespeare. When Burbage dies suddenly they realize the only chance for passing these masterpiece plays down to posterity is to collect and publish a folio. It’s an expensive undertaking that is complicated by the lack of a full set of originals. A few plays are here, another bunch are with a scrivener, most actors only got their part, not the full play so some had to be carefully put together. No respectable printer wanted to touch the project so Heminges and Condell had to settle for a slimy, greedy cheat.

The play is delightful as it weaves memorable passaged of the Bard’s work throughout the story, which is well paced. The characters include Shakespeare’s wife, daughter and mistress, and Heminges’ and Condell’s wives and and so there is some female influence supporting the impossible project. The Northlight’s set and costumes were perfect. I’m tempted to go again.

What’s great about the Northlight is free parking and every seat has a clear view.

Now I want to visit the Newberry Library and see the First Folio in person.

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Posted by on November 27, 2017 in book lovers, British Lit, British literature, drama, historical drama, postaweek, rare books


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American Writers Museum



This year the American Writers Museum in Chicago on Michigan Avenue. It was high time I visited so despite the rain and cold, I took a friend from Milwaukee to explore it.

After showing our tickets, which I bought online and got a 20% discount on, we were directed to start our visit on the right where there is a timeline of American writers.

If you look up on the left and you’ll see a timeline of American history. Under that is the main exhibit showing a chronological series of portraits of significant American writers. When you turn the panel, which has three sides, you’ll find more information and background about each writer. Below is information on a well designed panel about various literary movements or authors. It’s a lot of reading, but its well presented. Also, the curators seem to have made an effort to present authors from all backgrounds. Across from the time line is a wall of squares with author’s quotations. The squares move to reveal an panel with more information or a video.


Parallel to the gallery with the timeline was a photo exhibit on biographies, written by or on authors or celebrities along with their photos. The black and white photos of 50+ years ago were my favorite. There’s something about the crisp gradations and the styles of bygone eras that we just don’t see much anymore.

The next room I saw was the Readers Room which focuses on reading. It highlights different kinds of reading, such as educational, newspapers, magazines and more. There are two interactive screens where you can submit your favorite authors and see the most popular authors or books other visitors have chosen.

Another gallery had a small exhibit on Laura Ingles Wilder with biographical information, maps of where each of her books was set, depiction of her work in other formats and critical responses to her works.

The museum has a table with different typewriters, from the earliest kind to Selectric to a laptop. People were pounding away at the old typewriters while the laptop wasn’t used while I was there.


Quotation, Octavia Butler

Then there was an exhibit on the skills of writing with interactive exhibits on specificity, making prose active and such.

Finally, there was an area dedicated to Chicago writers like Saul Bellow, Ida B. Wells, Mike Royko, Ring Larder, Gwendolyn Brooks, Carl Sandburg, Theodore Dreiser, Peter Finley Dunne and many more. Here you could listen to short recordings of their work and see these turnable banners with their portraits and information on their work.


Each month the museum offers several programs including public readings. The staff was very helpful as we went through the galleries. They’d point out little things like the mural in the children’s room which had squirrels in a tree reading Caldecott award winning books and each squirrel had some element that related to the story it was reading. For example, the squirrel reading Charlotte’s Web, had a wisp of a web hanging over it.

All in all, I give the museum a thumbs up and will be back. I’d say allow an hour to get through the museum. If there’s a program, add more time.

Tickets: Adults $12, Students $8, discounts for children and seniors.


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Posted by on November 18, 2017 in book lovers, fiction, postaweek


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Chicago History Museum, Service Safari

Today I went to the Chicago Historical Museum to do some research for a writing project I’ve started. It’s a historical

Chicago Historical Museum Research center

  • What was my goal  and was it met? My goal was to get some primary sources on the 1870’s in Chicago to find out about how
  • What was good about the service? The librarian was very approachable and helpful. She showed interest in my search and checked on my progress and offered new ideas as I worked.
  • What detracted from the experience? I had no complaints.
  • With whom did you interact? I spoke with a friendly reference librarian and I suppose an intern who brought the items I needed. You have to show a membership card or give the librarian the entrance ticket ($10) when you arrive.
  • Were you confused at any time during the experience? I had to use a microfiche machine, which I hadn’t used since probably high school. The librarian gladly showed me how, but all the different knobs are hard to get straight right off the bat.
  • Describe the physical space. The reference desk is near the entrance. In the main room there were several long tables with slips for patrons to fill out to request items. Along one side of the room are books on shelves and the opposite wall has several computers and microfiche machines.  Beyond the tables is an area with lots of old maps on tables.

When I went, I didn’t know what to expect in terms of the scope of their collection or what would help me. I want to also try the Chicago Public Library, if non-residents can, and the Newberry Library so I wasn’t sure that I’d be back so I didn’t purchase a membership. Now I think I’ll go back perhaps weekly and hope to take one of their walking tours. So I will get a membership.  Going to one of these special libraries is kind of cool, but also a little intimidating at first. You can’t bring in any bags, pens, food or drink. You’re not supposed to bring in cameras, but one woman was snapping photos of documents with a camera. That was pretty obvious since her camera clicked loudly. I guessed she must have had permission.

You can just bring in a pencil and/or a laptop computer.

They’re only open in the afternoon. I did find out quite a bit from their history magazine about servants in that era. I went perused several weeks of the Chicago Times, a now defunct paper on microfiche. Best of all I got to go through Mrs. George Pullman’s diaries and address books of the time.

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Posted by on July 9, 2014 in book lovers, historical fiction


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The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook


The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook by Emily Ansara Batnes beckoned me at the library. Consisting of recipes for the folks upstairs as well as downstairs, The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook not only offers recipes, but is full of insights and explanations about cuisine in Edwardian England. Recipes include crunchy fig and bleu cheese tarts, classic oysters Rockefeller, crispy roast duck with blackberry sauce, Mrs. Patmore’s downstairs pork pie, chicken, leek and caerphilly cheese pie for St. David’s Day, and treacle tart.

I made Sir Anthony’s Apple Charlotte last week and it’s a new favorite. Looking at photos of apple charlotte it seems that many recipes call for bread rather than bread crumbs. This recipe was so delicious that despite my curiosity I doubt I’d bother with a different version.

Sir Anthony’s Apple Charlotte

2 c. light brown sugar
2 T. cinnamon
2 t. nutmeg
1 t. ground ginger
1 t. allspice
5 large tart apples, pared, cored, sliced thin
1 T. fresh lemon juice
1 T. fresh orange juice
½ c. butter, cold, chopped
½ c. butter, melted
1 loaf French bread, shredded into crumbles. 1 c. reserved
butter for topping

Preheat oven to 350.

Note: I just used Progresso plain bread crumbs

  1. In a medium-sized bowl, mix together dry ingredients. Reserve 1 cups of the mixture to use as a topping.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together apple slices, lemon and orange juices.
  3. Cover the bottom of a medium-sized dutch oven with bread crumbs and bits of cold butter. Layer with sliced apples and brown sugar mix, then with another few tabs of butter. Repeat until the dutch oven is filled.
  4. For the top layer, combine the reserved bread crumbs, ½ c. melted butter and 1 c. reserved brown sugar mix. Top with more butter. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

I served it with vanilla ice cream, which might be an American touch.


E. A. Baines, (2012) The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook, Avon, MA, Adams Media.

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Posted by on January 26, 2014 in book lovers, British Lit


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T’is the Season

books gifts

I’m one of those aunts that likes to give books as gifts. For years though, I’ve usually just given an Amazon gift certificate, but this year I’m tired of giving gift cards. I can see their merit, but I wanted more challenge. Besides with all this library knowledge I’m accumulating, I felt I should test out what I’m learning.

So with the help of the American Library Association’s lists of books for young readers, I’ve spent a few hours selecting books for nieces and nephews. I used their list of books for the college bound and notable children’s books. They’ve got lots to choose from. Booklist also offers information that helps

NPR’s Book Concierge led me to a title I think my mother will like. I’ll give it as part of a bundle of gifts.

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Posted by on December 15, 2013 in book lovers, Children's Lit


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