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What Are We Reading?

In 1983 I started reading a series of books which became known as a group from the title of the first book, “Tales of the City”.  The series follows a disparate group who rent rooms from the mysterious, yet motherly, Anna Madrigal, at 28 Barbary Lane in San Francisco.  The first book was published in 1978; the last book was just published this year.  There have been a lot of social changes in America since 1978, and the lives of these characters reflect those changes throughout the decades.  As I was reading this series, there were only 6 novels in the series.  The author, Armistead Maupin, eventually wrote 3 more to complete the cycle but there was an 18 year gap between novel #6 and the subsequent three.  I enjoyed this series and the characters so much that when I finished novel #5 and knew (at the time) that novel #6 was the end that I didn’t read it. I didn’t want it to end. I did not want to leave the characters.  By not finishing the series I thought I would always have that one final book to look forward; I would have in the future my one final adventure with these characters.  And so for 18 years, the book Sure of You sat on the library’s shelf – unread by me, yet there when I felt I could put closure to my fascination with these characters.

In 2007 Maupin published a new novel in the series – Michael Tolliver Lives.  Imagine my relief and excitement; I could finally go and read novel #6, Sure of You, since I would not be saying goodbye to the series after finishing it anymore.  Michael Tolliver Lives was soon followed by Mary Ann in Autumn and now The Days of Anna Madrigal.  After having read this last novel, I know the series is probably 99.99% done.  It ended well.  But I shall still miss them all and their adventures in San Francisco as they went from their youth and innocence onto middle age and beyond, changing and growing just as the country did in that span of 36 years.
Amazon.com’s blurb for the first novel says: “For almost four decades Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City has blazed its own trail through popular culture—from a groundbreaking newspaper serial to a classic novel, to a television event that entranced millions around the world.  The first of nine novels about the denizens of the mythic apartment house at 28 Barbary Lane, Tales is both a sparkling comedy of manners and an indelible portrait of an era that changed forever the way we live.”  I agree totally.
Scott Handville, Assistant Library Director
“Uncertain Glory” is the newest YA book by Maine author Lea Wait. This novel takes place in Wiscasset in the months prior to the Civil War.  An extensive bibliography accounts for the thorough research Ms. Wait conducted on this period.  Racial tension between the black and white citizens, & a certainty that a war with the South would be won within a few months add to an interesting story.  The plot is further enhanced by the entrepreneurship of a young newspaper editor and the community’s belief in a young visiting spiritualist.
An interesting historical novel set close to home.
Charlene Wagner, Children’s Librarian
What am I reading?  Always an interesting question . . .
Currently I am listening to the fifth installment of Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series.  These books generally take place in the small town of Three Pines, outside of Montreal Canada.  I know, I know, how can so many murders take place in one small town?!?!  I guess if Jessica Fletcher can do it in Cabot Cove, Maine, why not in a small Canadian town?  The stories are well written, but I think the narrator – Ralph Cosham – adds significantly to my listening enjoyment.
I just finished tentative exploration of H. P. Lovecraft.  I borrowed 2 graphic novels, and a book of short stories.  In particular, I was looking to compare the same short story in different formats.  I read the book first (no pictures), than read the graphic novel (comic book style).  The story was the same, of course, but the artists depiction of the “monster” in The Dunwich Horror, was not mine.  Lovecraft’s description is ambiguous enough, that what the reader envisions is personal to him or her.  
Next up on my list is a romance.  I’m not sure which one, though.  I have four in my “to be read” pile.  RWA (Romance Writers of America) announced their 2014 winners, so I have borrowed several from other libraries.  I’m looking forward to finding a new author, or two.
Ann Russell, Technology Librarian