The Friends of the Library and the Friends Bookstore are having a Book Sale in two weeks, as part of WINTERFEST in Rochester MN. SAVE the dates (February 11, 12, Thurs and Friday).
This is an overstock sale so there will be fabulous books at great prices. Perfect for cozy readings on these freezing nights! You will find alot of books to create your own reading lists, as well as many that are on mine. ENJOY!

Mail order books

I am often asked where I find my books. The Rochester Public Library is often first stop (both the website and general browsing), then the Friends bookstore (because I love owning books, and at those prices can share with the ‘you must read this book’) and the Amazon site, using the Friends portal (which donates money to the Friends, and therefore the Rochester Public Library. Then of course, I have several favourite ‘booksellers-by-post’ : the first is Bas Bleu (Fr for bluestocking, e.g. a literary woman). Their catalogue is fabulous and the online site is easy to negotiate ( I also receive the Daedalus catalogue where items are displayed by category, and have publication dates. Sale prices can excellent, and they have dvd movies and cds. Ordering online is through If you have plenty of time to search the catalogue, Edward R Hamilton Bookseller also has great deals. Catalogue is usually packed, some have photos of covers, various editions come as newspapers with rock bottom prices. provides a mechanism to search online, but I generally print the order and post it. These three have very different inventories, but I generally cross reference: I have found as much as $10 difference per title. For example, Chasing Spring, new was $22 at Amazon, 6.99 at Daedalus, and 3.95 at Hamilton.
Happy Booking!

Louis Bayard Mr Timothy (2003)

I read this as a library book in 2009, infact it was a new author, and I went on to read all his books. This is an atmospheric account of Tiny Tim Cratchit, now the grown up Mr Timothy. I enjoy reading all his book reviews as well. The important point of this posting, is that I just purchased this book from the Friends Bookstore for a mere dollar!! First edition, in nearly mint condition, no one else even looked at the book (and I couldn’t believe I had missed it since it was in the store from September onwards!). There are absolutely amazing deals in this store.

Joshua Kendall Roget’s Thesaurus (2008)

I love my thesaurus, but after reading this book, decided I needed to update mine (third edition) and then thought ah ha, perfect Kindle book, expecting it to be free (see below).
Background from my 2008 reading list:: Joshua Kendall published a biography of Roget called The Man Who Made Lists: Love, Death, Madness, and the Creation of Roget’s Thesaurus (2008)
Peter Mark Roget worked on a project classifying words for almost 50 years, amassing over 15,000 words, finally publishing his manuscript as Roget’s Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases Classified and Arranged So as to Facilitate the Expression of Ideas and Assist in Literary Composition (1852). Roget, born in London Jan 18th, 1779, had a long and distinguished career as a doctor; he lectured, he invented a slide rule that did complex mathematics, he studied optics and made an important breakthrough about how the retina perceives images. When he retired, he returned to the thesaurus, a compilation of words arranged in categories. Roget’s Thesaurus has never been out of print, is now in it’s 6th Edition (2002) and contains more than 330,000 words in 1075 categories. It was part of the Gutenburg project, and is available for free as a download. On Kindle and Nook, however, you will pay $10, if you don’t know about pdf files.

Neil Gaiman

This week’s New Yorker has a great article on Neil Gaimen. CHECK it out! I recommended reading his biography last year (huge 800 pages that I got on Kindle, with wonderful commentary on most of his books). Latest comments and tweets even. The Rochester Public Library has this, as they have purchased most of his novels, comics, dvds, etc. And while you are at it, yes, revisit the dvds of Star Dust, Coraline. He has another in the making (Staturesque) just recently filmed.

Caleb Carr The Lessons of Terror

Yes, this is the same Caleb Carr that wrote the wonderful The Alienist and the Angel of Darkness. I had no idea that he wrote so much non fiction, nor that he was in fact extremely knowledgable in military and political history. He is a contributing editor of MHQ (quarterly journal of military history)and series editor of the MOdern LIbrary War Series.
This is incredibly insightful, well written, and conservative while providing a critical historical context for terrorism today. He does argue that it will fail, but it appears to me it takes more education (of all of us, and them!) and if history is anything to go by, peace will not happen in my lifetime. Hence depressing. But I found many useful definitions, and connections with other historical accounts that made this a useful book.

Richard K Morgan Altered Carbon

Wow, this a thriller ride through science fiction…. revisting earth in the 25th Century is not a pleasant experience, although you will recognize all the major components – still class, problems with race and religion, lost loves and the meaning of friendship in an all too familiar grim future. Life, if you can afford it, is now endless – your consiousness can be easily downloaded into a new ‘sleeve’ or body. It does take awhile to recognise the face in the mirror, or know what your body is capable of doing. This was a first novel, after reading the jacket, it appears there are more with this now a series! I will definitely look out for these. OK, I confess I was looking for another scottish author and discovered him. But with reviews like: “for every piece of action there is a stunning piece of reflective description, a compelling sense of place and abundant 24 karat witticisms” “marvelous updating of Marlowe film noir…original and effective…” “addictive”

Edna O’Brien James Joyce and Byron in Love

She is an extraordinary writer, with an immense gift of language. Couple that with two incredible authors and you have two insightful books. These are part of a biography series called Penguin Lives, are generally smaller/condensed works and each (so far from what I have read, these being the 5th, 6th) I find the authors are pretty obsessed and very knowledgeable about their subjects (not all authors, but fascinating people). Both of these are library books, Joyce was unfortunately marked by a previous reader which can be distracting. I found that there were so many more details I wasn’t aware of, items that made their works/books more meaningful. Nuanced and insightful writing – bring your dictionary, and perhaps the OED if you are an American!

Alexander McCall Smith – Dream Angus

First, anything AMS writes is worth reading.
Second, this is part of a Myth Series published by Cannongate of Edinburgh Scotland from 2005 onwards, with some of the best authors from around the world. Try to find ALL of them. Brilliant idea to update some of the myths, extremely well executed in design, starting wtih Karen Armstrong, A short history of myth – nonfiction introducing the subject. Then Margaret Atwood, the Penelopiad, Ali Smith Girl meets Boy (Myth of Iphis), Victor Pelevin THe Helmet of Horror, Sally Vickers Where three roads meet (07) and AMS Dream Angus (05) who is an ancient celtic god of dreams – it was so good I had to buy the book to have my own personal copy.

Gregory Maguire – Four Stupid Cupids

The Hamlet Chronicles. I find so much of his writing hysterical. What if? Tattletales Club schemes to make the Valentien’s day memorable for their teacher – but there are four ‘loose’ cupids. Mythology well known to Maguire is fresh to the rest of us. “every distance has two ends, and Iam ready to leave this end and go to the other one, however long it takes. I want to go home.” and “Miss Earth is a good teacher because she teaches you that reading is better than watching TV” – what not to love!? I try to read several of his books every year – I am almost ‘caught up’ on the children’s literature. Don’t forget his adult books : Wicked, Son of a Witch, Mirror Mirror, etc. I love them all.
We have many of these books in the Friends Bookstore too – although I will never donate my copies as I reread all of these.