WWW Wednesday — New Year’s Eve

What did you just finish reading? What are you currently reading? What do you think you’ll read next?

9781607747307First of all, based on how my clothes are fitting, I SHOULD be reading one of the zillions of diet books that magically appear on bookstore shelves this time of year. The Bulletproof Diet: Lose Up to a Pound a Day, Reclaim Energy and Focus, Upgrade Your Life  . . . The Burn: Why Your Scale is Stuck and What to Do About It  . . . 20 Pounds Younger: The Life-Transforming Plan for a Fitter, Sexier You! I’m particularly intrigued by Zero Belly Diet: Lose Up to 16 Lbs. in 14 Days! Unfortunately, the only surefire method I know for losing weight quickly is a case of the flu, and I’m trying to avoid that.

I did just read a book related to self-improvement: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, by Marie Kondo. Recently published in the United States after hitting the bestseller lists in Japan and Europe, this is no ordinary guide to household management. Kondo is more of a Zen philosopher than an organizational expert. For example, most professional organizers advise clients to get rid of clothes they haven’t worn in a year. Kondo tells her readers to remove every item from their closets, determining which items “spark joy”.  New York Times writer Penelope Green tested Kondo’s advice and found it surprisingly effective: Continue reading

“If My Book Club Hates the Book I Chose What Does This Tell Me?”

innovators-9781476708690_lgThe ultimate search engine would basically understand everything in the world, and it would always give you the right thing. And we’re a long, long way from that.
Larry Page, co-founder of Google

I don’t know how a search engine could “basically understand everything in the world”, probably because I don’t understand how computers work. (Actually, I don’t even really comprehend how television works —  or radios, for that matter.)  I’m perfectly content to think of them as miraculous and mysterious inventions. What interests me are the workings of the minds of the people who developed the computer and the Internet. I just started reading The Innovators: How a Group of Geniuses, Hackers, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution, by Walter Isaacson (author of Steve Jobs) — it’s absolutely fascinating, focusing on how teamwork enhances creativity.

As I was reading the first chapter of The Innovators, I found myself Googling various things that piqued my interest. Several of my searches directed me to blogs, which made me wonder what Google searches led people to Books on the Table.  I found information about “referrers” and “search terms” on the stats page for the blog, and was not surprised to learn that Google is by far the largest referrer to Books on the Table, accounting for 87% of all Internet searches that led to the blog. What did surprise me was that Google’s privacy restrictions prevented me from knowing what search terms people used that connected them with Books on the Table.

Other search engines (Bing, Yahoo, AOL, etc.) do provide information about specific search terms. The most popular searches were: “Good books for book clubs”; “What happened to the diamond in All the Light We Cannot See?”; and “We Are Liars book review”.  One person asked a question that I think requires human, not artificial, intelligence: “If members of my book club hate the book I chose what does this tell me?” (OK, Larry Page, explain how the “ultimate search engine” would respond to that.) Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised at this question, since I read in a Google promotional piece that the number one question asked on Google this year is  “What is love?”.

Here are a few of the most unusual search terms that somehow led readers to Books on the Table in 2014:

  • Term paper on Jay Gatsby Do I detect possible plagiarism?
  • Rick Maus marijuana grower and book writer This one intrigued me, but my search turned up only an article in Sugarbeet Grower magazine about a device used in harvesting beets
  • Best novels by W.B. Yeats Well, I think he did write a short story or two.
  • Book about young girl who have a time mashine and meet Al Capone I think I might know this one! It could be Al Capone Does My Shirts — although I don’t recall a “time mashine”.
  • Francine Fleece Seattle This is mysterious, since I searched myself and came up with no results. However, three people were looking for the elusive Francine Fleece.
  • Mob Wives Chicago still on the air? Don’t search engines know that Books on the Table doesn’t cover reality TV?
  • Book club cocktail napkins There were many searches for these. Maybe Books on the Table should start selling them?
  • Is Sarah Churchwell married? Four people wanted to know this. I checked, and Churchwell (author of the terrific book Careless People: Murder, Mayhem, and the Invention of The Great Gatsby, coming in paperback in January) is married. If things don’t work out for her, there may be plenty of potential suitors out there.

Happy New Year! May all your Internet searches be fruitful in 2015.

 

The Book Thieves Strike Again

UF7302Last week, my book club (a.k.a. “The Book Thieves”) met for our annual holiday book exchange. (For a full account of last year’s book exchange, as well as anecdotes about the club, click here!) Although we have a lot of rules regarding the mechanics of the exchange, we are loosey-goosey when it comes to the books we bring. Hardcover, paperback, new, old, fiction, nonfiction . . . all are welcome. This year, for the first time I can remember, there were no duplicates.

The award for the most-stolen book went to Alice Munro’s Family Furnishings, but I’m not sure if that was because our members love short stories or because the book was packaged with an adorable ornament. The ornament was a stack of books — I’ve tried to find it online, without success, but I found a similar one in the Bas Bleu catalog.

We had a wonderful evening at a local wine bar, complete with delicious appetizers and a chocolate cake for the December birthday girls. Of course, the friendship and camaraderie among book lovers was the best part. Here are the books we exchanged . . . or stole:

boston-girl-9781439199350_lgThe Boston Girl by Anita Diamant
The new novel by Diamant (author of The Red Tent) just released this month, which is unusual — very few books are published in December. Maybe it’s because The Red Tent miniseries aired on Lifetime on December 7 and 8? In The Boston Girl, 85-year-old Addie Baum, born in the North End of Boston to immigrant parents, tells the story of her life to her granddaughter.

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
I adored Kidd’s first novel, The Secret Life of Bees, but was disappointed with her second fiction effort, The Mermaid Chair. So I wasn’t sure I wanted to try The Invention of Wings — but everyone I’ve talked to who’s read it has loved it, and it’s received excellent reviews. Kidd has written what she calls a “thickly imagined story” based on the life of Sarah Grimke, a Southern slave owner turned abolitionist.

9781607742678

The Forest Feast by Erin Gleeson
I wasn’t familiar with this cookbook (or Gleeson’s blog) before our get-together, but the book is absolutely lovely, a combination of a cookbook and an art book. The recipes sound terrific, too.

My Paris Kitchen: Recipes and Stories by David Lebovitz
I love reading cookbooks (truth be told, I prefer reading them to cooking from them) and this book is part cookbook, part memoir — perfect! It’s on my wish list.

9781101874103Family Furnishings: Selected Stories, 1995-2014 by Alice Munro
People say they don’t like short stories, and then they read Alice Munro and they’re converts. I think we all need to have a story collection (or two) on our bedside tables! For more on that topic, please read Five Reasons to Read Short Stories.

What Would Jane Do? Quips and Wisdom from Jane Austen by the editors at Potter Style
“There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature.”  (From Northanger Abbey)

The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace by Jeff Hobbs
One of my favorites of 2014, this moving and thought-provoking examination of race, class, and education is the kind of book you want to discuss with someone as soon as you’ve finished it.

100 Essays I Don’t Have Time to Write: On Umbrellas and Sword Fights, Parades and Dogs, Fire Alarms, Children, and Theater by Sarah Ruhl
I was thrilled to receive a signed copy of this book (which has received much acclaim, including selection as one of the New York Times Book Review’s Notable Books) — I’ve enjoyed Ruhl’s plays, and I love essays. However, I felt a little bad that I had to steal it from a friend.9781627791458

Make It Ahead: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook by Ina Garten
Who doesn’t love Ina Garten? I bought a copy as soon as the book came out, so I was glad I didn’t get it in the exchange. (The herbed pork tenderloin with apple chutney is very good, by the way.)

By the Book: Writers on Literature and the Literary Life from the New York Times Book Review by Pamela Paul
I brought this book because I enjoyed it so much. It’s a collection of columns from the “By the Book” column that appears in the Book Review every Sunday. Authors are asked a series of questions, such as “What book is on your nightstand right now?”, “What was the last book that made you cry?”, and “What books might we be surprised to find on your shelves?” About 70 authors are included — everyone from David Sedaris to Carl Hiaasen to J.K. Rowling.

Happy Holidays to readers and book clubs everywhere!

 

10 Favorite Books of 2014 — I Couldn’t Resist Making a List

cvr9781476746586_9781476746586_lgThis is the time of year when every publication, print or online, feels obligated to publish a “Best Books” of the year list. Every year, hundreds of thousands of books are published in the United States, so it seems like an impossible task for anyone to pick 10 of the “best” books. The New York Times publishes a list of 100 notable books, and then a couple of weeks later, announces the 10 best. (I thought it was amusing that the Times initially gave All the Light We Cannot See, my favorite novel this year, a mediocre review back in May when it came out, but now has the book listed as one of its 10 Best).

These year-end lists seem to make more sense with movies. I don’t know how many movies are released each year, but I would guess that a critic could manage to see most of them. Even if a critic read a book a day, he or she would still have read a tiny fraction of the books published by major publishers each year. It’s disheartening to think about how many brilliant books are published each year that fail to receive critical acclaim or even much readership.

Authors seem to get grumpy about these lists. Ayelet Waldman, an author who is famous for airing her opinions on social media (her thoughts on the Kardashians: they are “vile scumbag pigs”), was disappointed that the New York Times didn’t include her well-reviewed novel, Love and Treasure, in its list of notable books. So she tweeted: “It’s just so f***ing demoralizing. You pour your heart into your work, you get awesome reviews, and then someone decides it’s not “notable.” I mean. Why do I bother? I could write a f***ing journal.” Charming . . .

Booksellers aren’t always crazy about ranking their favorite books. In a blog post titled Trying to Come Up With My Year’s Favorites, Daniel Goldin (Boswell and Company in Milwaukee) flatly states, “I hate making these sorts of lists.” Every year, the store publishes a year-end “Boswell Best” list, and Daniel says, “Every year, I am one of the last people to come up with my books, which sort of drives people crazy, but what can they do, as I always look very, very busy, and heck, I own the place.” Parnassus Books in Nashville (owned by author Ann Patchett) sidestepped the problem by asking 18 well-known authors what books they will be giving for the holidays this year (Writers to the Rescue: Your Favorite Authors Share Their Gift Lists.) I love that Héctor Tobar and Hampton Sides each recommend one another’s books, without knowing the other was being asked for a book recommendation.

Still, the urge to create a list of favorite books can be irresistible. For what it’s worth, here’s a list of the books I loved the most this year. What do they all have in common? To quote Maureen Corrigan of NPR, “All of the disparate books on my list contain characters, scenes or voices that linger long past the last page of their stories.”  I kept it to 10 (five nonfiction, five fiction) — unlike Corrigan, who included a dozen books on her list (Sometimes You Can’t Pick Just 10). Candidates for my list were books originally published in 2014, which eliminated some great books from 2013 (or earlier) that I read this year.

NONFICTION

9780385535373In the KIngdom of Ice by Hampton Sides
Like all the best narrative nonfiction books, In the Kingdom of Ice is much more than an enthralling account of a historical event. Sides paints a detailed picture of post-Civil War society, when many young men who missed the opportunity to fight in the war were looking for opportunities to become heroes. His engaging, and often very funny, portrayal of newspaper titan James Gordon Bennett, Jr. (backer of the voyage), shows us the increasing role of the press. He covers Native American culture in the Arctic . . . the state of scientific and geographic knowledge in the Victorian era . . . and most of all, the enormous human capacity for courage and endurance.

Deep Down Dark by Héctor Tobar
Ann Patchett’s favorite book of the year was just selected as the first book for NPR’s Morning Editions Book Club. In an NPR interview, Patchett says, “It’s a riveting story. It was riveting when we were watching it on the news, it’s riveting in the book . . .  Even though we already know they’re safe, there’s an enormous amount of suspense and tension.” The book also stands out, Patchett says, because of Tobar’s beautiful and thoughtful writing. “He’s taking on all of the big issues of life,” she says. “What is life worth? What is the value of one human life? What is faith? Who do we become in our darkest hour?”

9780062284068A Deadly Wandering: A Tale of Tragedy and Redemption in the Age of Attention by Matt Richtel
A groundbreaking legal case and the latest scientific research on the brain and attention combine in this compulsively readable, multi-layered story about a devastating accident affecting several families and the perils of multitasking in today’s digital world. There are no villains in Pulitzer-Prize winning author Richtel’s moving account of a young man’s journey from what the New York Times describes as a “thoughtless, inadvertent killer to denier of his own culpability to one of the nation’s most powerful spokesmen on the dangers of texting while behind the wheel.” The book isn’t preachy by any means, but the message it delivers about distracted driving is lifesaving.

The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace by Jeff Hobbs
Robert Peace, a 2002 graduate of Yale and a product of inner-city Newark, was murdered at age 30 in a drug-related shooting. Hobbs, who was Peace’s roommate in college and who remained a close friend after graduation, has written one of the most thought-provoking books I’ve read in a long time. Why did Peace, a brilliant young man with a promising career in scientific research, succumb to the drug trade? Hobbs thoroughly and thoughtfully examines Peace’s life in all its complexity and contradictions, with the help of Peace’s family, friends, colleagues, and teachers.cover

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown
I’m not sure if this is a self-help or a business book — at Lake Forest Book Store, we shelve it in the business section. Either way, these are categories I rarely explore.  Essentialism really resonated with me; in fact, as soon as I finished it I ordered multiple copies for gifts. McKeown’s book shows us how to shape a life that is filled with meaningful activity. The book doesn’t advocate that we abandon our electronic devices, and it doesn’t provide tips for time management or organization.  It’s a philosophical guide to setting priorities in life.

FICTION

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
It didn’t win the National Book Award, but can we hope for the Pulitzer? This is the only book I’ve ever jumped the gun on and reviewed on the blog before it was published, which I don’t think I’m supposed to do. It’s such an extraordinary book, I just couldn’t wait.

9781410468895The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
A widowed bookseller has lost his zest for life — but his life changes when two things happen: he finds a baby on his doorstep and he falls in love with his sales rep. This wonderful book is a love letter to the book business, and to reading. I loved this book so much that as soon as I finished it I reread it. I don’t think I’ve ever done that before! It lives in a stack on my nightstand along with a few other very special books.

The Headmaster’s Wife by Thomas Christopher Greene
The Headmaster’s Wife is a page-turner with very surprising plot twists, but much more than that —  it’s a beautifully written exploration of marriage, friendship, grief, and mental illness. What do we owe to those we love? What actions are unforgivable? What is the breaking point from which a person can’t recover? Greene said the questions he asked himself when writing the book were, “What happens if you don’t hold it together? What happens if life just completely falls apart?”

We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas
I think this debut novel, the story of more than 50 years in the life of Eileen Tumulty Leary and her family, is a masterpiece. I read the book months ago, and I still can’t stop thinking about it. As I was reading it, I was reminded of Alice McDermott. The New York Times reviewer remarked on the connection between the two authors: “Mr. Thomas’s narrow scope (despite a highly eventful story) and bull’s-eye instincts into his Irish characters’ fear, courage and bluster bring to mind the much more compressed style of Alice McDermott. (According to this book’s acknowledgments, she has been one of his teachers. If he wasn’t an A student then, he is now.)”9780804137744

I Shall Be Near to You by Erin Lindsay McCabe
A headstrong young woman disguises herself as a man, enlists in the Union Army, and follows her new husband into battle in this beautiful story of love and war. Based on letters written by Sarah Rosetta Wakeman, this is historical fiction at its best. My husband (a Civil War buff) enjoyed I Shall Be Near to You as much as I did, and his usual taste in Civil War books runs to long, detailed biographies of Civil War generals.

What books are in your top 10?

 

 

 

10 Favorite Debut Novels of 2014

imgresA couple of days ago, I was chatting with a friend about authors who wrote “one-hit wonders”.  As we all know, Harper Lee has never published anything after To Kill a Mockingbird. Emily Bronte died young after writing her only novel, Wuthering Heights. Margaret Mitchell never wrote a sequel to Gone With the Wind. Whatever happened to Arthur Golden, who published Memoirs of a Geisha in 1997 and hasn’t been heard from since? And David Wroblewski (The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, 2008), I’m hoping you have another novel in you.

Here are 10 debut novels published in 2014 that I’m thrilled to have discovered. Some of them have received a lot of critical acclaim, and some have been overlooked — but they are all worth reading. I hope each one marks the beginning of an author’s long and successful career.

we-are-not-ourselves-9781476756660_lgWe Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas
You are not in this life to count up victories and defeats. You are in it to love and be loved.
Both an epic novel of the 20th century in America and an intimate story of a marriage and family, We Are Not Ourselves amazed me with its sympathy for its complex and flawed characters. It’s hard to pick a favorite of my 10 favorite debut novels . . . but if I had to, this would be it.

What I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
There is nowhere to go but on. Still, part of her longs to go back for one instant—not to change anything, not even to speak to Lydia, not to tell her anything at all. Just to open the door and see her daughter there, asleep, one more time, and know all was well.
An assured, beautifully written novel that begins with the disappearance of a mixed-race family’s “perfect” daughter and goes on to explore the family’s pathology. It’s heart-wrenching, but you’ll want to read it in one sitting. It inspired a great discussion in my book club.

Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson9780062286451
How trout looked in that water, brown and wavering and glinting all the colors there were and maybe some that didn’t really exist on the color wheel, a color, say, that was moss and brown-spotted like peppercorns and a single terra-cotta-colored stone and a flash of sunlight all at once. That color existed in the water here.
Another favorite of my book club, Fourth of July Creek is the story of two fathers in 1980s Montana: a flawed social worker and a backwoods survivalist. According to the Washington Post, “this richly plotted novel is another sign, if any were needed, that new fiction writers are still telling vibrant, essential stories about the American experience.”

I Shall Be Near to You by Erin Lindsay McCabe
Preacher is still talking but not one bit of it stays in my mind. There is just Jeremiah taking a deep breath. His hands shaking. His eyes meeting mine: my something blue.
A headstrong young woman disguises herself as a man, enlists in the Union Army, and follows her new husband into battle in this beautiful story of love and war. Based on letters written by Sarah Rosetta Wakeman, this is historical fiction at its best.

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
When you have truly come to know a person, Nella — when you see beneath the sweeter gestures, the smiles — when you see the rage and the pitiful fear which each of us hide — then forgiveness is everything. We are all in desperate need of it.
In 17th century Amsterdam, a young woman marries a wealthy businessman, who gives her a replica of their canal house — opening the door to many strange happenings. The book was inspired by an actual cabinet house owned by Petronella Oortman — which I was lucky enough to see in the Rijksmuseum.

we-are-called-to-rise-9781476738963_lgWe Are Called to Rise by Laura McBride
It all matters. That someone turns out the lamp, picks up the windblown wrapper, says hello to the invalid, pays at the unattended lot, listens to the repeated tale, folds the abandoned laundry . . . is the whole thing. What is most beautiful is least acknowledged.
The lives of four very different Las Vegas residents (a young immigrant boy, a social worker, a war veteran turned police officer, and the officer’s mother) in a heartbreaking but ultimately hopeful story.

A Replacement Life by Boris Fishman
Here was a foreign city, if you were coming from Manhattan. The buildings were smaller and the people larger. They drove cars, and for most, Manhattan was a glimmering headache. As the train neared Midwood, the produce improved and the prices shook loose.
An aspiring journalist finds creative satisfaction in filing fake Holocaust restitution claim for fellow Russian immigrants. It’s a thought-provoking examination of the relationship between fact and fiction, with plenty of wit and humor.

The Girls from Corona Del Mar by Rufi Thorpe
In a way, Lorrie Ann made me everything I am, for my personality took shape as an equal and opposite reaction to who she was, just as, I am sure, her personality formed as a result of mine. People do that kind of thing.  They divvy up qualities, as though reality, in order to be manageable at all, should be sorted, labeled, pinned down.
In this insightful novel about female friendship, the “perfect” friend turns out to have a life that’s far from perfect. The Guardian says it’s “a brilliantly written, probing, uneasy look at a damaged friendship between two women – and how such intense relationships are as much about how we define ourselves as they are about our love for, and struggle to understand, another human being.”

The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld9780062285508
I know that when I read books about love, they are telling the truth. The truth of it winds around my heart and it tightens in pain. I try and see it through my eyes, raised to my stone ceiling, and I wonder, what is it like to feel love? What is it like to be known?
The best word I can use to describe this book is “mesmerizing”. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever read — part fairy tale, part realistic prison story. The author, a journalist and author of three nonfiction books, is a death penalty investigator for the state of Oregon.

Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler
When he talked politics, it was with me, or my sister, pointing a steady and patient finger at us, saying, “I don’t care about left or right. It’s all nonsense. All I ask of you is this: Be kind. Be decent. And don’t be greedy.
A group of friends grows up together in a small Wisconsin farming town; one goes on to become a famous musician. The New York Times describes Shotgun Lovesongs as  “a good old-­fashioned novel, a sure-footed and unabashedly sentimental first effort that deserves to be among the standouts in this year’s field of fiction debuts.”

The Center for Fiction presents the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize each year. The awards were announced last night (December 9), and the winner was Land of Love and Drowning by Tiphanie Yanique. I’m adding that one to my TBR list! Several of my favorites were contenders for the prize — The Enchanted, Fourth of July Creek, and We Are Not Ourselves were shortlisted, and The Girls from Corona del Mar and Shotgun Lovesongs were longlisted.

Did you discover a wonderful new author in 2014?

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Giving the Gift of Reading

The greatest gift is a passion for reading.
Elizabeth Hardwick

There’s nothing as cozy as a piece of candy and a book.
Betty MacDonald, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle’s Magic

www.randomhouseThe buzzword in college applications today is “passion”. Every applicant is supposed to have one, and woe to the poor teenager who’s just trying to get through adolescence, not to mention chemistry and the Common App. Fortunately, when I was in high school, no one asked me if I had a “passion”. But if I’d had to answer that awful question, I would have said I was passionate about reading. I always have been, ever since I deciphered the words to Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham. (My parents, convinced I had memorized the book, kept trying to trick me by skipping pages, but I was on to them.)

From that time on, the world was hers for the reading. She would never be lonely again, never miss the lack of intimate friends. Books became her friends and there was one for every mood. There was poetry for quiet companionship. There was adventure when she tired of quiet hours. There would be love stories when she came into adolescence and when she wanted to feel a closeness to someone she could read a biography. On that day when she first knew she could read, she made a vow to read one book a day as long as she lived.
Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

9780060736262I am very grateful that my parents and grandparents read to me, bought me books, took me to the library, and were avid readers themselves. I can still hear Nana’s musical voice reading A.A. Milne and e.e. cummings to me. And I remember the cozy feeling of Granny’s lap as she read The Funny Thing to my cousins and me. (“And very good they are, jum-jills” — does anyone remember that?) Her house was crammed with books — I discovered everything from The Catcher in the Rye to The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich to Georgette Heyer’s romances on her shelves.  Dad read us The Yearling and The Wind in the Willows, and often gave in when I begged for one more chapter. I recall my mother’s delight when she found the Betsy-Tacy books (favorites from her childhood) on a library shelf.

Scan 76

Storytime with Gramps

There are countless organizations devoted to literacy and the joy of reading. Please consider giving your time, your money, and/or your books to one of them. Two of my local favorites are Open Books and  Bernie’s Book Bank. Open Books, a nonprofit that promotes literacy through school and community programs, helps fund its operations through two absolutely beautiful used bookstores in Chicago. Bernie’s Book Bank facilitates the collection, processing and redistribution of new and gently used children’s books to increase book ownership among at-risk children throughout the Chicago area. Both of these organizations would love your “pre-read” books. Wherever you live, there’s a literacy group that would appreciate your gift.

9780064401517During this holiday season, give yourself a present — treat yourself to some time with a good book.  Do as Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle suggests and eat some candy, too. You can worry about calories in January.

When Molly O’Toole was looking at the colored pictures in Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle’s big dictionary and just happened to be eating a candy cane at the same time and drooled candy cane juice on the colored pictures of gems and then forgot and shut the book so the pages all stuck together, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle didn’t say, “You must never look at books when you are eating.” She said, “Let’s see, I think we can steam those pages apart, and then we can wipe the stickiness off with a little soap and water, like this-now see, it’s just as good as new. There’s nothing as cozy as a piece of candy and a book.”