Tuesday, January 10, 2023

To Read Is To Fly


No offense to my human email contacts, but Wowbray from the Hutchinson Public Library is probably my favorite Wednesday in-box entry.

Wowbray gives thumbnail glimpses of new books coming to the Hutchinson Public Library and offers a chance to put them "on hold." It's a good day when a favorite author has a new book coming to the library.

Here's how Wowbray describes itself:

Free Alerts about Your Library's Newest Books, Movies & Music!

✓ Receive free weekly email alerts or RSS
✓ Discover the latest books, DVDs and CDs
✓ Reserve bestsellers instantly
✓ Enjoy the early notification
✓ Completely private - 100% spam-free
✓ Wildly convenient - view it from home


My first "click" is always "Mysteries and Thrillers." After I've perused and clicked my way through that list, I go to "Literature and Fiction." I usually take a quick glance at "Romance," though unless it's a go-to author in that genre, I usually don't do a lot of reserves.

It was a sad day on Wednesday, January 4: My Wowbray didn't show any new books in any of those categories. 

"Oh woe is me! Oh lack-a-day!" In other words, I was sad I couldn't add to my ever-burgeoning "hold" list. (That's a family joke. That phrase was my most memorable line from Skyline High School's play back in the mid-1970s. I don't remember the name of the play, but I remember the line and have thrown it out repeatedly through the years.)

There were a few new additions coming to the Hutchinson library's shelves, but none in my usual categories and none had me signing up. 

As I've mentioned before, libraries are among my favorite places. Just like I can't go to Stafford without making a stop at the local grocery store, I can't go to Hutchinson without a trip to the library. Borrowing from the library keeps me out of the poor house. I read 101 books last year. Imagine the impact on my checkbook if I were purchasing them all from a bookstore.

On the same week that Wowbray let me down, another email from Inspiring Quotes arrived in my in-box. Its subject line read: To Read Is to Fly: 25 Quotes about the Wonder of Reading." (Honestly, I don't remember signing up to receive Inspiring Quotes. But I do love quotes, and the subject lines often capture my attention. So, of course, I clicked.)

I loved many of the quotes. (Click on the link above to see them all.) Here's one from Walt Disney:

There is more treasure in books than in all the pirates’ loot on Treasure Island and at the bottom of the Spanish Main… and best of all, you can enjoy these riches every day of your life.

— Walt Disney

And from Jackie Kennedy:

There are many little ways to enlarge your world.  Love of books is the best of all.

— Jacqueline Kennedy 

During the past year, I've recommended a few books to blog post readers. As I've said before, I always find it a little risky to recommend books to others. We all have wildly different tastes. I may love a book, but that doesn't guarantee that you will, too. When Jill or my sister, Lisa, recommend a book, I am usually fairly confident that I'll like it. We've been trading books ideas long enough that each knows what the other likes.

Sometimes, a reader may find the content offensive. I may not always agree with every decision made by a literary character either. But sometimes thinking about topics in new ways expands our ideas. It may open an avenue to a real-life discussion or connection. I find value in that, too.

So, with that caveat in mind, I have a few books to suggest. They were among my favorites in 2022.

This book was inspired by a true story from Depression-era America. In 1938, two giraffes survive a hurricane while crossing the Atlantic. West with Giraffes tells the story of their journey from the eastern seaboard to the San Diego Zoo with their truck driver, Woodrow Wilson Nickel, and an accompanying cast of characters. In the book, Woodrow, now age 105, tells their story - part adventure, part love story, part history. I'm not the biggest animal lover in the world, so I wouldn't necessarily have gravitated toward this book. However, I saw it recommended on numerous book lovers' sites. I'm glad I added it to my "hold" list at the library. 


Same message as above on this book: I held out for awhile on this book, even though I'd seen it recommended multiple times. But I really couldn't imagine a book partially narrated by an octopus. However, this New York Times bestseller proved me wrong yet again. 

After Tova Sullivan’s husband died, she began working the night shift as a custodian at the Sowell Bay Aquarium in Puget Sound. She forms an unlikely friendship with Marcellus, a giant Pacific octopus who lives there. Marcellus eventually helps Tova uncover the truth about the mysterious long-ago disappearance of her 18-year-old son, Erik. She also connects with a young man new to the city and to work at the aquarium. Amazon describes the book this way: Shelby Van Pelt’s debut novel is a gentle reminder that sometimes taking a hard look at the past can help uncover a future that once felt impossible.


The cover of this book is misleading. It looks like a romance. And while there's some romance involved, it's more about life for a strong woman in the early 1960s. Chemist Elizabeth Zott is the only woman among an all-male team at Hastings Research Institute. Her striving for equality in the workplace is not well-received among most colleagues. Forced out of the lab, she uses her love of chemistry in a very different way - as the reluctant star of America’s most beloved cooking show Supper at Six. While she shares recipes, she also subtly urges women to change the status quo.  And, it's funny!


A Quiet Life follows three people dealing with loss: a man who mourns his wife, a daughter who loses her father and a young mom whose daughter is abducted. As their lives intersect, all of them find a way to move forward with a little help from each other. The book celebrates the way we connect as humans during times of pain and uncertainty. 

I plan to request Joella's other book, A Little Hope, from interlibrary loan at the Nora Larabee Memorial Library in Stafford. 


OK: This is one of those books that some people aren't going to like because of the subject matter. I am a Jodi Picoult fan. I've only quit reading one of her books. My parents never censored my books - even as a child. I believe reading should help you open your mind to new ideas and help you look at the world in a way you may not have considered before. OK: You've been warned.

Olivia McAfee knows what it feels like to start over. Her picture-perfect life—living in Boston, married to a brilliant cardiothoracic surgeon, raising their son, Asher—was upended when her husband revealed a darker side. She moved back to her New Hampshire hometown, living in the house where she grew up and taking over her father’s beekeeping business. High schooler Lily Campanello is also starting over with her mother in the same New Hampshire town. 

Then one day, Olivia receives a phone call: Lily is dead, and Asher is being questioned by the police. Amazon says: Mad Honey is a riveting novel of suspense, an unforgettable love story, and a moving and powerful exploration of the secrets we keep and the risks we take in order to become ourselves.


Molly Gray struggles with social skills and misreads others. Her grandmother helped her navigate the world, but now 25-year-old Molly is on her own. Even though being a maid is not everyone's dream job, Molly finds comfort in the routines and procedures that make her good at her job at the Regency Grand Hotel. A murder happens in one of the Regency's hotel rooms, and Molly's unusual mannerisms have the police considering her as No. 1 suspect. With a little help from her friends, can she convince the police that she's not the one they're looking for? Amazon says: A Clue-like, locked-room mystery and a heartwarming journey of the spirit, The Maid explores what it means to be the same as everyone else and yet entirely different—and reveals that all mysteries can be solved through connection to the human heart.


In a Kim's County Line blog post on September 20, 2022, I suggested some other books. They still rise to the top of my list in 2022. They include The Measure by Nikki Erlick; The Firekeeper's Daughter by Angeline Boulley; and American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins.

To read is to fly: It is to soar to a point of vantage which gives a view over wide terrains of history, human variety, ideas, shared experience, and the fruits of many inquiries.

— A.C. Grayling, philosopher and author

For the record, I am also a big fan of the Nora Larabee Memorial Library in Stafford. I'll have more on it another day.


  1. Happy reading. Is there more time now that you are retired? I guess, not!

  2. Jacki Kennedy was definitely right! I love that quote.