Sunday, October 26, 2014

Betty White & Abraham Lincoln?

I know Betty White never dated Abraham Lincoln, but these are two people who have been in the books I have read and listened to recently.

If You Ask Me (And of Course You Won't)
by Betty White
I listened to Betty White's If You Ask Me (And of Course You Won't) [2011] while commuting to and from work. I thoroughly enjoyed hearing about her life, friends, and career. I have always enjoyed watching her on television. I remember watching her on The Mary Tyler Moore Show when I was a kid and then enjoying The Golden Girls and now laughing hysterically as she plays Elka Ostrosky in Hot in Cleveland. Last Thursday evening as we were closing the library for the night, my dad came in and told me he had just read of Betty White's death (later confirmed as a hoax). I was so heartbroken I immediately went to my computer to write about her and her book. I was so relieved to read online that it was a hoax, actually a misinterpretation of a reporters tongue in cheek headline, that I said a silent thank goodness and shut my computer down.

It is not that I did not want to write about her book at that point, it was just I was so relieved to find out she was alive, I was afraid I would not express how much I enjoyed her book.  I love hearing about the lives of the famous. I don't envy their lives, I am just intrigued by them. I would never want to be in their shoes, no matter how much fame and fortune it might bring.

This is the first of White's seven books I have read (actually listened to) I was immediately engrossed in her story. I almost felt like she was talking to me, giving me an inside look at her life. I hope everyone who listens as she narrates her book feels the same. I felt almost like a grandchild listening to her grandmother tell stories about her life. I say that because at times she would repeat something she had said in a previous chapter, making me feel like we had known each other for a very long time. It made me laugh because I hear my mother telling my son stories she has told many times before, but we all listen as if it was the first time.

I am a fan of Betty White and hope she continues to make me (and everyone else) laugh for many, many years before she joins her beloved husband Allen.

The Lincoln Myth
by Steve Berry
I finished reading Steve Berry's The Lincoln Myth this morning. I have always been fascinated by history. My dad has researched our family history my entire life. I don't remember a time in my life when we didn't go on a vacation in order to visit the local library and genealogical societies. It wasn't until I was married that I even thought about a vacation being someplace fun (Disney World) and not related to a cemetery or library. (Even though we DID visit a number of libraries and cemeteries during our trip to Florida and Disney. My husband's family is from Florida.)

 I also had a fabulous teacher in high school who brought history to life for me. I will always be grateful to him for the lessons he taught by telling the story of our past. I have read a number of Steve Berry's other Cotton Malone novels. I have thoroughly enjoyed every one of his books. Although the story is always great and seems to be thoroughly researched, I have a HUGE problem with the actions of some of his characters (Destroying a library book is NEVER okay ~ especially when said book is from the Library of Congress. Yes, I know it is a character in a book, but that still does not make it acceptable!).

I have to say I was shocked to find out Mr. Berry is a member of the Smithsonian Libraries Advisory Board and has twice served as the national spokesman for the American Library Association's Preservation Week. As a member of ALA, I am very surprised. Maybe by having him serve as the spokesman ALA is helping him to realize the bad habits some of his characters are modeling to his readers. I truly hope his fans see how appalling it is to read about the destruction of historical artifact and that Mr. Berry does not see these actions as appropriate at any time. It makes me wonder if he has ever considered some of these deeds himself while doing his research?

That being said, I will praise The Lincoln Myth. Again, I will say his books are very well researched, as evidenced in the Writer's Note at the end of the book. Throughout the reading of his books, he makes the reader question their knowledge of history. I personally like the questions that pop into my head as I read his books. A lot of those questions are answered by the end of the book when he reveals if the information is historical, or merely created in his imagination. I wonder where he gets his ideas and how they spring into his mind?

I will continue to read Steve Berry, but I do hope he begins to make his characters better consumers of the library and the wonderful resources provided to everyone by having them return the materials in the same manner in which they found them ~ whole.