Vulpes Libris

A collective of bibliophiles talking about books. Book Fox (vulpes libris): small bibliovorous mammal of overactive imagination and uncommonly large bookshop expenses. Habitat: anywhere the rustle of pages can be heard.

My Favorite Books of 2012, so far

Every year I keep a list of the books I read, titles carefully penned on blue-lined notebook paper. Next to a select few I place stars, indicating a book I really liked. Recently, the idea struck me to share my “stars” on VL. One, The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating, I’ve praised to the skies already. Here are mini-reviews of the others.

“I Have Iraq in My Shoe” by Gretchen Berg


Most books about Iraq are deadly serious, this one is hilarious. The author goes to Iraq to teach English as a second language, but not without an extensive wardrobe and the complete set of Sex & the City DVD’s. As she navigates a very different culture and a problematic supervisor, she keeps a very funny running commentary. Despite an ever growing shoe collection and a mounting tab for excess luggage charges on her holiday trips, she’s not a bimbo, but an astute observer of people, with a comedianne’s voice. This is a very entertaining book.
Sourcebooks 2012 400pp. ISBN:978-1402265792 available in traditional and ebook formats

 

“London Under” by Peter Ackroyd

A fascinating look at what is under the city of London, not just the sewers and Tube system, but the buried rivers, bunkers and gold vaults, all built upon the foundations of a Roman outpost. With quotes from documents of the 1300′s through Izaak Walton and Dickens, the author explores both the physical places and their meanings as they’ve changed over time. Archeology, pop culture and psychology are woven through this book that packs an amazing amount of information and anecdotes into it’s short length.
Nan A. Telese 2011 140 pp ISBN-13:978-0385531504 available in traditional and ebook formats

 

“Minding Frankie” by Maeve Binchy

A lot of people consider Binchy’s work as sentimental as the song “Danny Boy”(which was featured in her very first book Light a Penny Candle), but I’ve always liked her strongly drawn characters who are dealing with the trials and emotions of everyday life. In her latest, a neighborhood comes together to care for and protect an orphaned baby girl and delving into the meanings of love and family.
Knopf Publishing Group 2011 626 pp. ISBN:978-1594135064 available in traditional and ebook formats

 

“Showplace of America” by Jan Cigliano
A splendid coffee table book about the halcyon days of Cleveland, Ohio. Yes, that Cleveland. Long before it became “The Mistake on the Lake”, Cleveland was home to captains of industry such as Rockefeller, Hanna and others, their mansions lining Euclid Avenue. This book is chock full of vintage photos of those grand houses,their interior décor and tree lined streets that are long gone. More than once looking at this book, I wished time travel did exist, because I would love to see some of those buildings, even a glimpse from the sidewalk would suffice.
Kent State University Press 1991 398 pp. ISBN-13:978-0873384452

So those are my favorites of the first half of this year. It will be interesting to see what treasures the next six months will bring. Hopefully, I will remember to share them with our readers in due course.

Jackie resides in the Cleveland area and that was why she was pleased to see the city depicted in it’s pre-Rust Belt era.

5 comments on “My Favorite Books of 2012, so far

  1. annebrooke
    June 4, 2012

    Love these mini-reviews, Jackie! And the London one looks really fascinating … :)

    Anne
    xxx

  2. Christine Harding
    June 4, 2012

    London Under is a really good read – it’s a much more slender volume than his books on London and the Thames, but it is absolutely fascinating – especially the details of how the sewers and the tube lines were built, and the men who died building them. It’s packed with information and is beautifully written. It’s one of those books that gripped me from the very first sentence, and I was disappointed when it ended.

  3. sshaver
    June 4, 2012

    Speaking of Ackroyd’s London, I just read his Albion, which has this beautiful Tennyson quote in which Merlin says of Camelot:

    For an ye heard a music, like enow
    They are building still, seeing the city is built
    To music, therefore never built at all,
    And therefore built for ever.

  4. kirstyjane
    June 5, 2012

    Thanks for the run-down, Jackie — these sound fab in their very different ways!

  5. Pingback: Favorites at the End of 2012 « Vulpes Libris

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  • (The header image is from Aesop's Fables, illustrated by Francis Barlow (1666), and appears courtesy of the Digital and Multimedia Center at the Michigan State University Libraries.)
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