Thursday, November 08, 2007

Lynn's List

I go all giddy when I see one of my books on someone's list, so you can imagine my response when I received this in an email today from Lynn Frost, the librarian in Junction City. It's her column for the Junction City Quarterly, and (gasp) she put me right next to Mother Goose and A.A. Milne. Of course I'm donating a copy of Upstairs to the library. It was the least I could do. Lynn said she was not angling for a donation, honest.

The Essential Bookshelf by Lynn the Librarian

The season of giving is here. so what would this librarian suggest if someone had only about 20 inches of bookshelf? Essential books: here is my top-ten list.
1. A dictionary. The Random House Websters College Dictionary goes for about $25, and contains expressions like ‘my bad!’ and ‘senior moment’. But an older dictionary will do: $5.
2. A general knowledge overview is a must, but given the Internet, encyclopedia sets are thing of the past. A used copy of The Random House Encyclopedia at $40 will suffice. It contains 3,000 pages of knowledge, including an atlas. Search for that obscure fact under such headings as “The Universe” and “Time Charts”, then you can browse to your heart’s content. A more concise treatment is The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy; What Every American Needs to Know by E.D. Hirsch, Jr.. ($29.95) Or an overview of the world’s facts is a world almanac. ($7.00 ) You need not have the latest edition, as many things do not change: state capitals, measurements, etc.
3. The Merck Manual of Medical Information ($19.95) can save you much angst over ailments, and will aid in determining when to seek medical help. It is written in lay terms, and is arranged by topic, from basics to body parts and systems. It includes information on children’s health, accidents and injuries.
4. Every household should have a cookbook. A good basic source is the 50th anniversary edition of The Betty Crocker Cookbook. ($17.95) Use it to cook everything from old fashioned comfort food to vegetarian dishes – complete with how-to photos and nutrition information. When put to use you have no excuse; you too can cook.
5. While in the do-it-yourself mode, you can refer to the Reader’s Digest New Complete Do-It-Yourself Manual. You’ll learn about repairs, tools and safety in all areas of the home, and have a sense of accomplishment when you have completed a task.
6. Along that line, Simple Home Solutions: Good Things with Martha Stewart Living ($22.50) with instructions on how to remove stains, peel a tomato, build storage systems, you name it.
7. Every home should have a good read-aloud. I recommend Dorcas Smucker’s Ordinary Days; Family Life in a Farmhouse and Upstairs the Peasants are Revolting. ($9.95 each) This gives you the opportunity to share local color when there is a power failure or to have a sense of shared tranquility before you turn the lights out.
8. It is great to have a book for and about children: Mother Goose for example. There are so many versions: The Real Mother Goose, ($9.95) also Mary Engelbreit’s Mother Goose, ($19.95) A 75 year old treasure is the set of A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh and House at Pooh Corner. They are the best stories to share with children. Reading these can also give a child the first ah-ha-experience that a book and a movie do not always have one to one correspondence.
9. You need a book that speaks to your passion: a novel, or art, gardening, history, philosophy, self-help, health. . . It should be a book that is a pleasure to hold, to read and re-read, and something you would like to share with others.
10. The book that is the foundation of your faith tradition.
Lastly, you need your very own library card. They don’t take much room so go ahead and get one for yourself and each member of your family. Use it frequently. And the world will open up to you and your loved ones. Junction City Public Library has about 20,000 books along with dvds and talking books. Come and enjoy them.


  1. Dorcas,
    I am so delighted with your response! Your column and your book are favorite read-alouds in in our home. Can't wait to read Upstairs. . . aloud(!)

  2. What do you mean, right up there with Mother Goose and A.A. Maline?

    Your books are listed right after a MARTHA STEWART book.

    I laugh and laugh while reading your blog. (the men in my family don't get what's so funny). they've never been mothers.

    Joy - Goshen IN