Where to find Free Ebooks

Even if you prefer a print book, there are times when an ebook may be just the very thing.  It  is dark, you have just finished the last print book you have with you, you want to check out a new author before committing to purchasing the book….

Check out this summary from the Consumer’s  Checkbook. https://www.checkbook.org/washington-area/eread-for-free/

Sources can include your local library, Project Gutenberg, and freebies from booksellers.


An Evening with Rita Mae Brown

over the moon bookstore and galleryFrom the first page of Rita Mae Brown’s newest book,  Probable Claws:

“It’s a madhouse out there,” Harry leaned on the checkout counter at Over the Moon bookstore in Crozet.

“Can’t complain.  Business has been good,” Anne de Vault, the owner, glanced up as more customers entered the store as if to prove her point.

Anne de Vault arranged for an author talk and book signing with local author, Rita Mae Brown, last  night at the social hall  of the Tabor Presbyterian Church across the parking lot from the Over the Moon bookstore.   It seemed very appropriate.

Rita Mae Brown (r) and Anne de Vault (l)Rita Mae Brown and Over the Moon Book Store owner Anne de Vault at RMB Book Signing Tabor Presbyterian Church social hall 20180718.jpg

It was a wonderful evening. There were about 40-50 middle aged women (and 4 men) in the church hall. Rita Mae Brown was shorter than I expected (about 5’4″). We first saw her standing in the back of the church social hall talking to Anne de Vault, the owner of the Over the Moon Bookstore. About 7:02, she walked up to the front the social hall and stood in front the table. She talked for about 30-35 minutes without notes. She was hilarious.

She spoke about growing up in Virginia. (Her family had been there since the 1600s.) Many of her pithy one liners seem to have come from her mother.

“Virginians remember everything–even the things that never actually happened.”

“One in four Virginians is crazy. Look at your three best friends. If they aren’t crazy, it is probably you.” Momma may have been right, maybe it is me.

Rita Mae Brown talking to the audience at the Tabor Presbyterian Church social hall 20180718.jpg

She talked about growing up high church Lutheran. One Sunday they passed a Baptist church where the Baptists were enthusiastically practicing their religion. My mother explained that they were the “expressive” denomination.

Virginians do not like to say no to folks. It’s rude. They will try to slide away from folks without giving a specific answer. If pressed, they will say. ‘I’ll try. ‘ People from the midwest are much more direct.

Mark Twain was the first real American author because he used American vernacular.

“No matter what your political beliefs, the news industry is making a ton of money by pedaling fear.”

She finished by taking questions from the audience. There were not many questions. She kept saying “Don’t you want to get back out in this gorgeous evening?”  Her hounds and horses were all healthy so that automatically made it a good day, even without the 70 degree/low humidity day we were enjoying as a rare break in mid summer.

When it was my turn to get two books signed, I told her “You are creating a new cottage industry.  I had two friends that wanted the Rita Mae Brown tour so I created the Crozet tour for them, and I was sure that there will be other local tours that may emerge.”

She just laughed and said, “I’m sure you will add you own flair to the tours.”  She even wrote, “Keep up those tours, Girl!” when she signed her signature and stamped Sneaky Pie’s name and paw print on the cover page.



Probable Claws.jpgTo buy Probable Claws, please check you local indie book store. (I bought mine at Over the Moon Bookstore in Crozet.)  Only if you local book store does not have then, try Amazon or Barnes and Noble.


  • Series: Mrs. Murphy (Book 27)
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam (May 29, 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425287157
  • ISBN-13: 978-042528715


I’m half-way through the book and it is really good.  RMB said last night that she thought it was one of the better books she had written.  It accomplished what she hoped it would.


Great American Read

Great American Read.pngPBS will run an eight-part series on The Great American Read “that explores and celebrates the power of reading, told through the prism of America’s 100 best-loved novels (as chosen in a national survey). It investigates how and why writers create their fictional worlds, how we as readers are affected by these stories, and what these 100 different books have to say about our diverse nation and our shared human experience.”

If you want to know which titles make up America’s 100 best-loved novels, click here

Take the quiz to see how many of those titles, you have read.

The Great American Read begins on May 22.  Check your local PBS station for times and when it may be repeated.






Book Review: The Wine Lover’s Daughter, A Memoir

wine lovers daughterAnne Fadiman, the author of The Wine Lover’s Daughter, A Memoir, is an author in author in her own right.  Her father, Clifton Fadiman,  was “an essayist, critic, editor, and indefatigable anthologist whose encyclopedic knowledge made him a mainstay of “Information Please” and other popular radio programs in the late 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s” according to his obituary in the New York Times.

joy of wineThrough a series of essays, she explores her relationship with her father, using wine as the metaphor for their relationship. Fadiman was a wine connoisseur who had a remarkable wine cellar and wrote the Joy of Wine, with Sam Aaron.   His daughter writes about his love affair with wine, the way most people talk about the grand love(s) of their life.

“But I have to admit that our similarities far outnumbered our differences. we were not only both writers, but both devotees of Vermeer, late bedtimes, anagrams, and doggerel, which we often composed for family celebrations…”

“In the gastronomic realm, the only area of marked disagreement was the one in which I wised we were most similar….” Wine was the area where they disagreed.  Anne thought wine “had too much taste.”  In a later chapter, she meets with Dr. Utermohlen, in Ithaca who offers her a scientific explanation about why wine tastes more different to her than it does to most people.

Although the book deals more with Clifton, than it does with Anne, it is a beautifully written book that explores the complexity of a lower-middle class Jewish man growing up in Brooklyn, who was able to move to Manhattan based upon his intellect and drive.  Although Clifton felt like he did not belong, except through his extensive love and knowledge of wine, his daughter provides many compelling arguments that he did belong in the WASP corridors of prominence and privilege.



Guest Post: An Alternative to Free Ebooks

Do you like e-books? Do you like cheap or free? This may be the blog post for you.

Audrey Driscoll's Blog

Just before Christmas, I read this post on Paul White’s blog. As you can see, it sparked some fairly diverse comments. In fact, I was so busy formulating my comment, I didn’t read the end of the post as thoroughly as it warranted.

Paul’s solution to the give-books-away-for-free marketing strategy deplored by the rest of his post is called Electric Eclectic Novelettes.

At this point, I’ll turn it over to Paul…


To quote that wonderful philosopher, Winnie the Pooh, “The beginning is a very good place to start.”

I was looking for a great book to read.

I finished reading the last book by my favourite author. It would be another year, maybe two, before his next book became available. This meant I needed to search for another book to read. I was even willing to stray from my usual genre to find an excellent read.

Easier said…

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Books with Dogs–Ponder the Paws-sibilities

Reblog from the New York Public Library http://overthemoonbookstore.shelf-awareness.com/ct/uz9408991Biz35712922

Other possibilities:


dog diariesByars, Betsy, Betsy Duffy, and Laurie Myers.  Dog Diaries:  Secret Writings of the Woof Society.  New York:  Square Fish, Henry Holt and Company, 2016.

At the first annual meeting of WOOF–Words of Our Friends–assorted dogs preserve their heritage by sharing tales of canines throughout history, including Abu, who ruled all of Egypt except for one pesky cat, and Zippy, who simply must find the squeaky toy.

Dog RulesCzekaj, Jef.  Dog Rules. New York:  Balzer and Bray, imprint of HarperCollins Publisher, 2016.

Two dogs try to teach their new puppy to be a good dog. But instead of growling, it tweets. Instead of doing tricks, it eats a worm. Will the puppy ever learn the dog rules?

When friendship followed me homeGriffin, Paul.  When Friendship Followed Me Home.  New York:  Dial Books for Young Readers, 2016.

Seventh-grader Ben, always an outsider, is led into a deep friendship with Halley, who is being treated for cancer, by the special dog he and his adoptive mother take in.

sparkyKlimo, Kate.  Sparky.  New York:  Random House, 2016.

A firedog from the Maxwell Street fire station tells the story of the Great Chicago Fire
Pugs of Frozen NorthReeve,  Philip and Sarah McIntire.  Pugs of the Frozen North.  New York:  Random House, 2016.

New friends Sika and Shen try to beat the odds and win the Great Northern Race–in a sled pulled by a team of sixty-six pugs–in hopes of meeting the Snowfather and having him grant their wish.

Writing a Review

Have you ever written or read a book review? Does it influence what you may read/purchase/consider?

Brussels Circle for General Semantics

The other day, Denzil, Dusan and I were talking about of book reviews. This post puts a few thoughts together based on this conversation. Let me take full and sole responsibility for the content of this post, while acknowledging the input of my conversation partners.

Developing and sharing a review depends on your desire to share a reading experience. It touches on the motivation why we read and it also guides us how to read. The world needs a little more meta-conversation on reading. There’s plenty of guidance on writing out there, but reading appears to be taken for granted.

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Book Review: The Card Catalog: Books, Cards, and Literary Treasures

Card Catalog BookLibrary of Congress.  The Card Catalog:  Books, Cards, and Literary Treasures.  Foreword by Carla Hayden, Librarian of Congress.  San Francisco, CA:  Chronicle Books, 2017, ISBN: 9781452145402.

Amazon – Hardback, $22.48, Kindle, $9.20

Barnes and Noble    Hardback, $23.62, Nook $11.99


This book is for the true Old School bibliophile.  (It even has a Library of Congress pocket LC cardand book card pasted inside the front cover.  I guess they kept a few  boxes of cards and pockets deep in some vault at the Library of Congress or the Ft. Mead overflow area for just such an occasion.  The card is attached to the pocket with a plastic disc about the size of a quarter.)

The book lovingly traces the history and the significance of the card catalog beginning cuneformwith the original cuneiform clay tablet. “One tablet found near the Sumerian city of Nippur and dated around 2000 B.C. was clearly identified as a library catalog by renowned Sumerian history and language expert N. Kramer.  At just 2-1/2 by 1-1/2 in (6.5 by 4.cm) the tablet foreshadowed the use of small index cards in cataloging…”

It also talks about the Pinakes, catalog of the famous Library of Alexandria.  According to the book,  this library’s method of organizing information became the cornerstone that cataloging has used ever since.  The Alexandria’s first librarian, Zenodotus, developed this system to identify the huge scrolls of papyrus stacked haphazardly in piles.  “The scrolls were inventoried and then organized alphabetically with a tag affixed to the end indicating the author, title, and subject.”

The book then covers the Far and Middle East catalogs,  before continuing with medieval libraries and movable type.  During this period, books moved from scroll to codex. (between the 4th and 6th centuries).Codex_Petropolitanus_fols._164v-165r.jpg

The next chapter is devoted to the Enlightened Catalog  This occurred during the American  Revolution and the founding of the Library of Congress.  It does not acknowledge the Enlightenment’s French and English antecedents and their influence on the Americans but the beautiful illustrations and sample catalog cards do include several European titles.

The next chapter is “Constructing a Catalog:  The 3 x 5  Solution.”   “Harvard’s assistant librarian, Ezra Abbott, is credited  with creating the first modern card catalog designed for readers.  When Abbott introduced his catalog in the early 1860s, the ‘paper slip’ or card catalog was being used in Europe and a few American libraries, but the bound catalog was still prevalent.”  It was also during this period that  Cutter created a scheme that became the basis for the Library of Congress Classification system.  A bit later, Melville Dewey created his classification scheme, based “upon a controlled vocabulary of subject headings represented by numerical values.”  ALA was also founded during this period.  With the invention of the typewriter, many cards switched from handwritten to typed.  Again the chapter is very U.S-centric.

The chapter on the “Nation’s Library and Catalog:  A Marble House of Cards” follows.  The Smithsonian and the Library of Congress were competing to become the national library.  Following the Centennial celebrations in 1876, the number of books arriving at the Library of Congress exploded and the need for a second building was soon evident. “On a rainy November morning in 1897, the new Library of Congress opened its door to the public, ahead of schedule and under budget.”  Could any government building make that claim today?   With  Herbert Putnam as its new librarian, The Library of Congress developed the Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) in 1899, began re-cataloging its older books on standard sized 7 x 13 cm cards, called for outside help from university and public libraries to catalog all the varying books, and began printing 7.5 by 12 cm library cards. These cards came with a hole punched in the bottom for the guard rods.

The last chapter deals with the Rise and the Fall of the Card Catalog.   Putnam had established the Cataloging Distribution Services  and the interlibrary loan system which moved its influence from just Congress’s Library.  ALA supported the use of LC (Library of Congress) as the central source of cataloging information.  LC began to drown in library cards. The rise of computer systems added a new nemesis for the traditional catalog production system. MARC, Machine-Readable Cataloging was launched in 1966. By the 1980s, major public and university libraries began removing their stacks of library catalogs.  This prompted the next big question:  what do you do with the beautiful catalogs and their millions of cards?

Since this book is created by the Library of Congress, its LC focus is easy to understand.  The illustrations are gorgeous and really add to the beauty and usefulness of this coffee table book. Many illustration sequences include the title page or a picture from the book and the accompanying print/and or handwritten catalog card. I would like to see someone do a companion piece to this topic that gives a bit more credit to what Europe and the world have added to the history of the catalog.









Book Review: The Most Beautiful Libraries in the World

Most beautiful libraries in the worldThe Most Beautiful Libraries in the World by Jacques Bosser, photographs by Guillaume  Booser, foreword by James Billington,  translated by Laurel Hirsch  (New York:  Harry N. Abrams, 2003) ISBN:0810946343

Available from Amazon for $37.08

The book covers 23 libraries.  Twenty are in Europe and  three are in the United States.  The introduction is an ode to  libraries, books, and readers. It traces the history of libraries back to the Sumerians, Egyptians, and Greeks. “As long as a library is both useful and used, it will grow.  When it no longer answers to its calling, in time it will lose its importance and, at best, its rich collections will only be consulted by historians.”

The libraries included in the book are:
National Library of Austria – Vienna, Austria
The Benedectine Abbey Library of Admont – Admont, Austria
The Monastic library at Wiblingen – Ulm, Germany
The Benedictine Abbey Library of Metten – Metten, Germany
The Herzogin Anna Amalia Library – Weimar, Germany
The Vatican Library – Rome, Italy
Riccardiana Library – Florence, Italy
The Mazarine Library – Paris, France
The Institute Library – Paris, France
The Senate Library – Paris, France
The Cabinet Des Livres of the Duc D’Aumale – Chantilly, France
The Abbey Library of St. Gall – Saint Gall, Switzerland
Bodleaian Library – Oxford, England
Wren Library, Trinity College – Cambridge, England
The John Rylands Library – Manchester, England
Trinity College Library – Dublin, Ireland
The National Library – Prague, The Czech Republic
The Library of the Royal Monastery of El Escorial – San Lorenzo del Escorial, Spain
The National Palace Library in Mafra – Mafra, Portugal
Boston Athaenaeum – Boston, USA
The Library of Congress – Washington, DC, USA
The New York Public Library – NY, USA
The National Library of Russia – St. Petersburg, Russia

Each library featured includes both the history and how it reflects the culture and its focus at the time of creation. For example,  the Benedictine Abbey Library of Admont in Admont, Austria offers a technical description of the library as  a “late baroque hall that, on a smaller scale, is somewhat reminiscent of the court library in Vienna… Its 230 ft (70 m) length extends down a central area under a cupola 41 ft 8 in (12.7 m) high  of which open two lateral, rectangular halls, each surmounted by three domes, 37 ft (11.3 m) in height.”   In the next paragraph, it switches from details and description to explanation. “This technical description, however,  conveys nothing of the spirit in which this masterpiece glorifying the Creator was conceived–a lavish Gesamtkunstwerk or global work of art, where each element plays a role.”

Benedictine Library of Admont

Trinity College LibraryThe description includes the focus of the collection of each library, how it is organized, and the art work that enhances the look and feel of the library.   For example, Trinity College Library in Dublin “(b)eginning in 1728, marble busts were place at the entry of each alcove on both the ground floor and the gallery.  Executed by sculptors such as Roubilliac, Van Nost, and Scheemaker, all famous during their lifetime, the busts are of philosophers, poets, historians, and ever increasingly benefactors and professors of the university.”

NYPL LionsEven the modern day New York Public Library “is, in fact an authentically democratic tool of knowledge reflecting the American conviction that education is one of the surest ways to climb the social ladder.”  Patience and Fortitude, the two pink Tennessee marble lions sculpted by Edward Clark Porter, are “today two of New Yorkers’ preferred beasts.”

The book does an excellent job showing the unique features and history of these famous libraries and includes a brief bibliography.  All of the libraries are either European or American.  Although it looks like there is another 2010 edition of the book, it is a reprint of the 2003 book, with a different cover.  If there is another edition, maybe it will include libraries from other parts of the world.

Do you like libraries, or do you think it is all online and free?  Join in the conversation and share what your favorite library is and why.