Two Day Trip to Italy

One of the things I love about blogging is “meeting” other bloggers and reading what they are writing about. One of the blogs I follow is written by Beth (a fellow Michigander) who writes at “I didn’t have my glasses on…” In a recent blog, she mentioned a book she was listening to that had her laughing out loud. She went on to mention that it was set in Italy. Her blog can be read here:

The book was “The Patron Saint of Second Chances” by Christine Simon. On Beth’s recommendation, I requested it at the library. I picked it up yesterday and finished it today. I am sure that I easily could have read it in one sitting. It was a delightful read that did have me laughing out loud at times. Here is the Goodreads synopsis:

Vacuum repairman and self-appointed mayor of Prometto, Italy (population 212) Signor Speranza has a problem: unless he can come up with 70,000 euros to fix the town’s pipes, the water commission will shut off the water to the village and all its residents will be forced to disperse. So in a bid to boost tourism—and revenue—he spreads a harmless rumor that movie star Dante Rinaldi will be filming his next project nearby.

Unfortunately, the plan works a little too well, and soon everyone in town wants to be a part of the fictional film—the village butcher will throw in some money if Speranza can find roles for his fifteen enormous sons, Speranza’s wistfully adrift daughter reveals an unexpected interest in stage makeup, and his hapless assistant Smilzo volunteers a screenplay that’s not so secretly based on his undying love for the film’s leading lady. To his surprise—and considerable consternation, Speranza realizes that the only way to keep up the ruse is to make the movie for real.

As the entire town becomes involved (even the village priest invests!) Signor Speranza starts to think he might be able to pull this off. But what happens when Dante Rinaldi doesn’t show up? Or worse, what if he does?

It was a book that did not require a lot of thinking and at times was ridiculous, but I loved every second of it. Perhaps I could see a little bit of my Italian relatives in some of the characters. To me, the book read like a very funny sitcom episode or like an old radio comedy show. At times there was some predictability, but it doesn’t take away from the story at all.

On the back flap of the book it says this about the author, “Christine Simon grew up in a very large and very loud Italian family…” I don’t know any Italian who doesn’t have great stories about their family! In the acknowledgments section of the book, she mentions family members who were the inspiration of some of the characters.

One of the things that I must give kudos for is the fact that this book is very “family friendly.” I don’t recall an overabundance of profanity. As a matter of fact, I think the word “ass” is mentioned once or twice and that’s it. There are no long and detailed paragraphs describing sexual acts. There is a kiss or two. Violence is kept to a minimum as well. It’s just a really fun book.

The book was written by the author while in quarantine, and it is her first novel. This is the second “first novel” from someone that I have read and really enjoyed. The other was The Measure by Nikki Erlick. Maybe I need to check out more unknown authors?

I know today is the first day of fall, but it won’t be long before we’re all shut in because of the cold and snow. This book is an easy read that provides lots of laughs and is the perfect book to enjoy over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine.

Thanks, Beth!

Broadcasting Live from the Library

I love the local library. Just recently I have checked out numerous books on tape to listen to on my drive into work. I have also checked out physical books to read as well.

Just like a stroll through the local book store, I love walking up and down the aisles looking for various titles and authors. Many times, if I don’t want to purchase a book, I will take a picture of it at the book store and then request it from the library.

Many people use the library for computer use, to make copies, or just to relax and read. There are also many other things that happen there, too. Monday, I took the kids to a “story time” session.

Ella loved being able to see other kids around her age and made new friends. Getting her to sit still while the stories are being read is a bit of a challenge though. She loved when they got up and danced along with songs, played with scarves, and played with the small parachute. She really had a blast, even though it doesn’t look like it in this picture.

Story time on my day off happens at a library near Sam’s mom and dad. So I packed up the kids and drove over that way with the kids. There was something that I was really surprised to see, smack dab in the middle of the library – a podcasting booth.

Many people have said that I should do a podcast since I have retired from radio. I have said that I really don’t have the equipment or a place to do it quietly. I suppose with the right portable equipment and the use of this cool booth, a podcast would actually be fun to do.

As surprised as I was to see this in the library, it makes sense. As I mentioned, many folks go to the library to do use computers and such. What a fantastic idea for the local library to offer a space for folks to do podcasts in a world were there are more and more podcasts being created and broadcast.

My brother has worked in a library for over 20 years. I’ve never asked if they have one of these, but he works in a major city and their library has many branches, so I suppose they do. What a great idea.

Anyone who says the world doesn’t needs a library really has no idea just how vital they are.

Library Memories

Yesterday’s blog about taking Ella to the library led to various conversations that brought back many of my own library memories.

My first trip to the library was of course during grade school. We always had a day during the week where we could go and check out a book. There were some occasions where we got to go to the library and listen to audio cassettes or record albums. I remember they had the worst headphones for listening to things in the library!

The above picture is close to what those headphones looked like, but I think the ones at school had very little cushion to them. They were either so tight that they left your ears red, or so loose that the never stayed on. It was rare to every find a pair that were “comfortable.”

On a trip to the library last year with my sons, my oldest wanted to play on the computers and asked for headphones. You guessed it – the headphones they gave him were almost identical to the ones we had in elementary school. Maybe they want them to be uncomfortable, so you won’t be on the computer too long?

My buddy Max reminded me that before the days of computers, you would take the book to the desk and they would stamp it with the due date. This was very similar to the way books were checked out in school, but in school, your name and the date showed up on the card.

Note the card had the date loaned, your name, and your classroom number … just in case they needed to hunt you down!
This one is a bit different in that it has the due date, homeroom and your name.

Today, you go into the library and do a search on the computer for a book. Back in the day, you had to use the card catalog!

With the card catalog, you could look up a topic, a title, or an author. As I recall, the cards were hand typed and in alphabetical order. You would then be able to find the section where the book was located using the Dewey Decimal System. You’d get the number, find the section, find the numbers, and hopefully the book was on the shelf. Each book had those white stickers with that info on the binder.

When I think about the library, two great childhood memories come to me immediately. Growing up, they used to play old radio shows on the radio. I was familiar with them because we used to check them out of the library on cassette tape! I was introduced to Jack Benny, Amos and Andy, Fibber McGee and Molly, Suspense, Dragnet, and so many other shows because of trips to the library. I loved checking them out and listening to them at night.

I also remember looking forward to the nights my dad rented the 16 mm projector from the library.

It was always fun to have dad set up movies and us watch them on the wall. He always checked out old Laurel and Hardy films, Three Stooges shorts, the Little Rascals and Smokey & the Bandit. This was in the days before any of these were out on video. It was awesome to be able to see these at home! I remember those nights very well. I was probably introduced to so many classics this way.

It’s been many years since I got my first library card. In that time the media used at the library had changed drastically. Instead of records and cassettes, today you can check out DVD, Blue Ray, and CDs. There are computers readily available for folks who have no internet. And, of course, there are millions of stories sitting upon the shelves in books. When I hear people say there is no need for the local library, it makes me sad, because it remains one of my favorite places to go.

First Trip To The Library

Between Sam and I, we easily read Ella 5-12 books a day. Usually after we finish one, she signs “more” because she wants to want to hear it again. She really needs a bigger book shelf, because it seems like we are always bringing new books home from the store for her.

We signed her up for the Summer Reading Program at our local library. The more she reads, the more prizes she can get. She earned her first reward and so we decided to take her to the library to get it. She’s never been to the library before, so she was pretty excited when she walked in.

The first thing she did, while I was talking to the librarian about her reading reward, was pull some books off a shelf (just like when she is at home)! I had to reshelf the books and she got to pick her prize. She got a rubber duck and a book. Then we went into the kids reading room. She was in heaven! There were so many board books!

I’ve been to our library a few times, but never had been in the kids area. I had to grab a picture of her by the mural.

Once we read about 20-30 books, we started to leave. She found a computer that had some easy drop and drag puzzles. She had to play with that for a while and loved every second of it. She’s looking like such a big girl now!

I am so happy that she loves to read. I will be sad the day she no longer wants me to read to her. That is something that I really love to do. There are plenty of stories and books to read!