The Incarnations

The Incarnations
Susan Barker

Beijing Olympics
Summer 2008


A taxi driver returns to his cab to discover a letter left inside his cab.  The writer of this letter claims to have known the driver in many past lives.  By turns, dark and violent and brimming with hope at other times, this book was challenging to read and there were moments when I almost put the book down.  In the end, I’m glad I followed through, as it gave a completely satisfying ending and one with hope.


With each letter, Wang Jun, the cab driver receives we recede into a past life that the letter writer and Wang have lived.  Many of the lives lived were dark and destitute.  Some were violent. What I enjoyed was the fact that Susan Barker used the past life stories in the book as a mechanism to discuss chinese history and being a huge history aficionado, this is what kept me pushing through the dark lives that these two people lived.  I read somewhere online that in order to read the book you:
A.  Had to believe past lives existed.
B.  Suspend disbelief.


I don’t necessarily know if that’s the case as there are many books that offer themes and plot points that I didn’t know about previously or have an understanding of but I still enjoyed reading them.


The Incarnations is definitely a challenge to read at least for me it wound up being so.  I am happy I stuck with the book however and I believe if others feel like putting the book down, don’t!  I think you’ll discover a bright spot in the storm that this book delivered.


Until next time…
…Turn the page.



The Art of Social Media


Peg Fitzpatrick and Guy Kawasaki have written an important book for anyone interested in getting started in social media marketing.

Art of Socia;

I read this book in two days.  Borrowed it from the library where I work.  Loved it so much and found it so useful that I wound up purchasing a copy for myself. This is not a long book but it is packed with excellent information.  Business owners, especially small business owners, anyone wanting to market themselves should grab The Art of Social Media and read it then re-read it again. Written in tiny chunks, the book lays out the steps it takes to get your business noticed online, from creating a profile, to what to post to your new profile.  How to share content to the various social media platforms.


This is THE book to own in your personal library.  If you are at all interested in knowing anything about the current state of social media, then this is the book for you.  

Run, don’t walk to your nearest bookstore and pick up a copy.


Until next time…
Turn the page.


Wuthering Heights

Before I start this column today, I need to step up and apologize for missing an ENTIRE month of columns; even though it was only two total.  I will do my best to write at LEAST one column every month from here on.


Wuthering Heights
Emily Bronte

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It’s been a couple years since I re-read this book, however Wuthering Heights still resonates with me.  A regular patron, Christa L. came into Scranton Library a few weeks ago with the intention of returning it having not finished reading the book.  Here’s one of the reasons I so love my job:
I convinced Christa to give the book one more chance, only because I adore the book so much.  Her daughter was instrumental in convincing Christa to try the book again as well.  She came back about a week later and thanked me for convincing her to try again.  She wound up liking the book.


This book has it all.  Romance, Vengeance, The Moors of England.  In some cases Wuthering Heights is somewhat reminiscent of another favorite English book I thoroughly embrace:
Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles.  If only because The English Moors play a role in both books.


I felt the same way as Christa did when I read the book for the first time some thirty plus years ago.  I found it challenging to get into and I think it is because of the style the book was written in.  That’s why in so many cases it is an important thing to do to re-read many of the classic books as an adult.

Until next time…
…Turn the page.



Marketing is one of my strong suits and I have to give credit where it is due.  The next two books I am recommending helped me realize much of my ability.  If you have a social media presence and a business and don’t know where to begin promoting yourself.  These two books will surely give you a heads up.  Both are written in layman’s terms and the points both make are very easy to implement.


Steal These Ideas
Steve Cone

I’ve DEFINITELY taken MANY of the ideas presented in Steve Cone’s book and implemented them in my own business.  Some I’ve been doing all along and some were brand new to me.  Marketing has always been my forte, something I’m quite adept at but I can always learn something new and this book taught me a few new lessons I hadn’t thought of been incorporating.  This book is most assuredly worth the read.




Crush it:
Why now is the time to cash in on your passion
Gary Vaynerchuk


Gary Vaynerchuk is speaking my language.  On Amazon’s page for Crush it,  this is what it says:

Do you have a hobby you wish you could do all day? An obsession that keeps you up at night? Now is the perfect time to take those passions and make a living doing what you love.


On another blog I write:
Wisdom and Life, I have an entire category based on this subject:
Finding Your Gift


Along with Steal These Ideas, I believe Crush it is another MUST have book in your marketing library.  Both of these books have been indispensible to me.  If you have a business or are considering starting one, then these are two books you should own and refer to often.


Until next time…
…Turn the page.


Time Travel

Time Traveler’s Wife
Audrey Niffenegger

In 2009, this book caught my attention, as I’m a huge fan of time travel stories.  I cracked the cover and was immediately enthralled.  Claire and Henry are time crossed lovers.  What I found completely fascinating about Time Traveler’s Wife is the mechanics behind time travel in this story.  It is NOT what you’d believe it to be.  I will leave it at that.

Emotional, thrilling and surprising this book captured me for more than the obvious reasons of time travel being central to the theme.  Henry is a librarian.  That detail surprised me in and of itself, as you don’t see many males portrayed in literature or anywhere else for that matter in the library field.  It was nice to see.

Can you guess why?  Wink.  Wink.  Smile Smile.

For those of you who haven’t read this book yet I recommend searching it out.  I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised; and by all means, avoid avoid avoid the movie.


Orson Scott Card

A retelling of Sleeping Beauty, Enchantment is full of beauty and detail.  Taking place in Russia, Enchantment intricately weaves the Russian Folktale of Baba Yaga into Enchantment so well that it appears to be part of the story.  Kudos to Card for doing such a fine job of this.

If you like time travel stories
If you like folklore
If you like SF/F tales
you are in for a treat with this book.

Don’t let the SF/F genre scare you away.  There is some literate fiction in the field.  You just have to know where to find it.  If you are close to Madison, stop by the library and ask to speak to me.  If I’m around I’ll be more than happy to help you out.

Time and Again
Jack Finney

This illustrated book found its place to me through a fellow librarian here at Scranton Library in Madison, Connecticut.  It has long been known of my fancy for well written time travel stories and I was told I MUST read this book.  I’m now returning the favor.

Simon Morley is approached by the U.S. Army to take part in a secret government project.  Simon agrees to participate but has a caveat of his own.  He requests to return to New York City at a specific time period.

You’ll have to read the book to discover what the reason was he wanted to return to a specific place at a specific time.  Have no fear.  I believe you’ll be as sucked into the narrative as I was.

Until next time…
…Turn the page.


Favorite Children’s Books Plus One

Last week, when leaving work, Jane Ash Scranton Library’s Children’s librarian asked me my favorite children’s books  I didn’t even hesitate:


Benjamin Budge and Barnaby Ball

Several years ago I went on a mission.  I wanted to find this book.  All I remembered about the subject was that a tall man and a small man lived in homes that were inappropriately sized for them.  I asked everyone I knew.  No one had a clue.  As a last resort I turned to the Internet.  I found an online bulletin board that finally discovered the title.


Where Does the Butterfly Go When it Rains
ButterflyRains (1)

Have you ever considered the question the title of this book poses?  Why do these two books resonate with me?  They are the VERY first books I purchased at a Scholastic’s book fair in Farmington, Connecticut at The Noah Wallace School over forty years ago.  I remembered Where Does The Butterfly Go… Because I still owned that original copy.



Benjamin Budge had completely slipped away with the only thing I recalled being the topic.


Dragon’s Extraordinary Egg

Once again, working at a library has given me a huge reward.  Dragon’s Extraordinary Egg returned to the front desk on Saturday afternoon.  It’s one of the huge advantages of working at the library.  I get to see all the books that come across the desk.  What a wonderful book.


This book has everything.  A story about being different.  A story about families.  A story about why things happen for a reason.  It has elements similar to Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and for a few pages I expected the book to go that route, however I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome.


This is a book that everyone should read.

Until next time…
Turn the page.



Sherlock Holmes

Hound of the Baskervilles
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle


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As with Poe, I’ve read read every story of Sherlock Holmes multiple times and the one story I continue to come back to is The Hound of the Baskervilles.  I love this book and it it might be one of my favorite all time classics.


Holmes is called to investigate the death of Sir Charles Baskerville.  All signs point to a heart attack.  One disturbing clue points to an alternative answer.  A grimace of terror on Charles face.  And dog prints beside the body.


Why did I mention Poe in this column?  It is because, Poe has been given the name:
Inventor of the detective story.


The Hound of the Baskervilles has been called by many in the know as the greatest detective story ever written.  I agree.


Last Sherlock Holmes Story
Michael Dibdin


Michael Dibdin has the language of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle down in this short little book.  I discovered this book through Karl Ryan who used to manage RJ Julia Booksellers when I worked there.


In this story, Holmes pursues Jack the Ripper.  As cases begin to not come in so frequently, Holmes turns his attention to a seamier side of London.  He gets involved in The Ripper Case and it is is nearly his undoing.  I’ve recommended the book to countless people and some like it, some don’t.  But all say once they start, they simply can’t put it down.  Check it out.  Would love to hear your opinion.


Until next time…
…Turn the page.

An Adventure, Law of Attraction and a Lion

Chloe and the Lion
Mac Barnett
Pictures by:
Adam Rex

One of the advantages of working in a public library is the fact that I get to check in books all day.  So a few days ago in the afternoon, Chloe and the Lion came across the desk and while it was a bit slow, I leafed through the book


Chloe and the Lion is a fun little picture book for children.  I laughed throughout.  The author, Mac Barnett and the illustrator, Adam Rex are drawn into the book and they constantly bicker about what should happen.  If you have children or even if you don’t, this is funny little read.


When I fell from the sky:
the true story of one woman’s miraculous survival
Juliane Koepcke

Juliane Koepcke’s parents were scientists in the South American jungle.  Juliane grew up knowing the forest exceptionally well and this served her well when she was just seventeen. While traveling with her mother back to her home in South America by plane, the plane flew into a massive thunderstorm and everyone on board died.  Juliane was the only survivor, but it is how she survived that’s the story.  She fell two miles while still strapped into her plane seat and crashed into the leafy canopy of the very forest she grew up in.


Having lived in that forest helped her survive the days she was lost.  The early segment of this book details her growing up with her parents and the life she lead prior to the ill fated trip she took.  Juliane’s story is an amazing tale of survival.  For those who love adventure and adrenaline spiked tales, this is one book you won’t be able to put down.


E Squared
Pam Grout



If you know about Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret, E Squared is a nice follow up.  Many of the same topics are presented however, E Squared differs in the respect that it gives nine experiments to prove that we can sometimes master control over our thoughts.  We can create things to happen simply by focusing on the thought.


Sound like hooey?  Don’t dismiss this out of hand without first taking a look at the book and going through the first few experiments.  You may well be surprised at the outcomes.


Until next time…
…Turn the page.


Robert McCammon

Robert McCammon is a writer I read during a fantasy phase I went through several years ago.  Boys Life and Gone South are two of my favorites although I’ve read others by McCammon.


Boy’s Life
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Boy's Life

This is likely Robert McCammon’s quintessential book, the novel that put him on the map.  Boy’s life is a fantastic tale of family and loss.  The novel takes place in Zephyr, Alabama.  The protagonist, a young boy named Cory is working with his father delivering milk to area residents when they both see a car plunge into a river.


When Cory’s dad dives in after the car, he finds a dead man handcuffed to the steering wheel.  Their world shifts out of place.  Part mystery, part coming of age story, McCammon has it all in this wonderfully macabre story.  Don’t miss it!  Don’t dismiss it because you don’t read dark fantasy.  This is one book that will hold you in sway.  You won’t be sorry you read it.


Gone South
Gone South

Another novel that takes place in the south, McCammon’s usual writing is on display with Gone South.  The protagonist in this tale is Dan Lambert, a Vietnam Veteran who was poisoned by Agent Orange.  In one fleeting moment, Dan does something that will change the course of his life.  Now being pursued by law enforcement he escapes into the Louisiana Bayou.  Gone South is an amazing tale and although most people who are aware of Robert McCammon point to Boy’s Life as the book they most connect to, I have to be different and say that Gone South is the better of the two novels.


Gone South is a tale of redemption which I feel VERY strongly about.  I think that’s why I feel so connected to the tale.  I’ve read it multiple times which I can’t say for Boy’s Life.  Pick it up.  I think you’ll find you feel the same.


Until next time…
…Turn the page.



Bill Parcells

A Football Life
Bill Parcells and Nunyo Demsio



I’m a huge NFL fan.  It’s one of the sports on television that I can watch any team play and enjoy.  Bill Parcells has long been someone I’ve admired.  Watching him motivate his teams and seeing the results of his actions has been amazing.  Every NFL team he has taken over have been vastly improved by his presence.  Before he arrived at the several teams he has coached, each team underperformed in every area.  In a relatively short time Bill Parcells turned the team from perennial underperformers into winners, taking most of his teams to the Super Bowl.  How many NFL coaches can do that?


I enjoyed reading Parcells for several reasons:
–Bill discussed his youth and not just his NFL experience.  He talked about his middle school years.  He talked about going to high school and college.  I learned several things about Parcells, I didn’t know previously.  For example:
Bill isn’t his given name.
–He played for the NFL for a short time.
–Parcells actually left coaching briefly and sold real estate.


This is why I read so much.  And why I read EVERYTHING:
How would I ever have discovered these things about someone I’ve admired for so long if I didn’t pick this book up?


It’s why I find it it so incomprehensible when I talk to people who say they don’t read. They don’t have time.  There are other things they do.  To quote a favorite Saturday Morning children’s show:
Reading is FUNdamental.


Anyway, back to Parcells:
I enjoy re-experiencing past history and there is a vast amount of that in this book for someone who lived through The Bill Parcells era.  He talks about taking over the Giants as head coach.  I didn’t know that he worked for The New England Patriots BEFORE he signed on with The Giants.


There is so much to learn from reading this book.


As I said above, it is why I read as much as I do.  I’m a sponge when it comes to reading.  I need to keep my mind continually soaking up knowledge and the only way that can be accomplished is by continuing to read.


Even if you’re not an NFL fan, surely, Bill Parcell’s name has become such a part of the American experience that everyone has a passing familiarity with him.  I recommend picking this book up and leafing through the pages.  I imagine you’ll find it enlightening, and if you are a fan of the NFL, like me, I bet you’ll discover some things about Bill Parcells that you didn’t know.


Until next time…
Turn the page.