Friday, 18 August 2017

The Welcome Committee of Butternut Creek

Jane Myers Perrine majored in English and Spanish during her university years.  She became a Spanish teacher and also an ordained minister.  Then she began to write and has written 10 books in the Christian romance genre.  
One of the main themes is matchmaking.  The setting in this book is a small town in Texas, where a young minister has arrived to take over the responsibilities of the local Christian church.  Three of the women in the church run the social life of the congregation and try to control the new minister, Adam Jordan.  Miss. Birdie even wants to decide on the hymns (all the old ones), and tell the minister when he needs his hair cut.  But the three ladies meet often to discuss who is sick and who needs help.  They would provide childcare, furniture, anything needed - always lots of fried chicken, cakes, bread, etc.
  I thought the focus would be on the minister, but there is a young Afghanistan vet who has lost a leg.  He falls in love with his physiotherapist, who has two young boys.  And most of the story is about him trying to get his hands on beautiful Willow.

   Two lovely covers for this novel.
There is a follow-up book called "The Matchmakers of Butternut Creek", where the church ladies work on getting a wife for the pastor.

A nice small-town story with interesting characters.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Seven Sisters: Book Three

The third book in the Seven Sisters series arrived and I read most of it at the beach.
You can read about the second book here.
Each book deals with one of the sisters, raised by a  multimillionaire in Switzerland.  When Pa died, each girl was given clues to her heritage.
The third sister, Star, is quiet and thin.  She has spent her life enveloped in the life of her sister CeCe.  They were always together.  Star could write but not speak well.  Her sister had dyslexia, but spoke loudly and clearly for both of them.  And so, it was difficult for both of them, having been co-dependant for the first twenty years of their lives, when Star attempted to make some space between them in order to search for her heritage in London England, specifically in a book store.  Star got a job there and, through the owner, Orlando, she learned the story of several generations of her biological family.  It included the King of England and the writer Beatrix Potter, oh, and she also met her biological mother. And, of course, she fell in love.
   Once again, there is great complexity to the long saga.  It continues to peak your interest in the adopted father, Pa Salt. Who was he, and how and why did he adopt these girls?
  I admire this writer for the huge task she has taken on.  There are so many themes and storylines, that as soon as I finish, I want to start again.  But... another whole year before the next book will be released!

Saturday, 12 August 2017

The death of reading threatens the soul

This article in the newspaper caught my attention. 
The picture is very appealing, but I was also interested in the author.
Philip Yancey is a well-know author of books concerning spiritual matters. 
 Now he is concerned about the lack of reading.
Yancey believes that the internet and social media have trained the brain to read a paragraph or two and then start looking around.  He is speaking from a personal perspective.
I used to read three books a week.  One year, I devoted an evening each week to read all of Shakespeare's plays.  Another year I read the major works of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky.  But I am reading many fewer books these days , and even fewer of the kinds of books that require hard work."
Explanation:  When we learn something quick and new, we get a dopamine rush-MRI brain scans show that the brain's pleasure centres light up.  E-mails satisfy that pleasure centre as well as Twitter and Instagram and Snapchat.
   My only experience in social media is this blog and e-mails.  I don't have a cell phone, even though it would be very convenient at times.  But, I am not willing to give up my personal space.  I do not want to be available every minute of the day.  I need time to think my own thoughts and, to be honest, I don't want to hear every detail of anyone's life.  People can find me if they need me.  I still find the house  telephone a disruption- especially when many calls are advertizing.  I need to find a way to turn off the ring.  It disrupts my plan of the moment.  That's why I love e-mail, where you can answer when you wish- or not!
   A 2016 Neilsen report discovered that the average person spends  more than 10 hours a day with media- radio, TV, and all electronic devices.  Not much time left for reading!
   It appears that discipline is more important than ever.
Bill Gates reads 50 books a year
Mark Zuckerberg reads at least one book every two weeks.
Elon Musk grew up reading two books a day.
Mark Cuban reads for more than three hours every day.
Arthur Blank, co-founder of Home Depot, reads two hours a day.
These busy people make time to read and so can we.  It's important!

"Books help define who I am". (Philip Yancey)

Thursday, 3 August 2017

"The Bookshop on the Corner" by Jenny Colgan

   What a cheery cover!  I  picked up this book while travelling.  I enjoy reading 'books about books'.  This book has been compared to "The Little Paris Bookshop" which I wrote about here.
  But I realize that I really enjoy non-fiction 'books about books' more than fiction- books like "Read for Your Life" by Joseph Gold.  The theme of books in a novel seems like a good thing, but doesn't necessarily make the book "a great read".

   Nina Redmond, 29,  was a librarian in England, who lost her job because the library "was going to compress the library services into the centre of town, where they would become a "hub", with a "multimedia experience zone" and a coffee shop and an "intersensory experience".  
   This caught my attention because I have complained about the changing concept of libraries.  Check it out here.
    Nina decided to follow her dreams and moved to Scotland, bought a van, and filled it with books that had been discarded from the library.  She would make her living selling books.
   A cute concept for the book but there were so many aspects that just weren't realistic.  I could never visualize this van, because it had a table and chairs, shelves of books and a chandelier.  At one point she mentioned "lots of families started to crowd into the van". And she drove this van from town to town.
   Perhaps the most unrealistic aspect was the effect on the town- "And as Nina looked around the little village in the sunshine, she couldn't help but notice something.  Everyone was reading.  People out in their gardens.  An old lady in her wheelchair by the war memorial. A little girl absent-mindedly swinging on the swings.  In the bakery, someone was laughing at a book of cartoons, at the coffee stand, the barista was trying to read and make someone cappuccino at the same time.  Nina was amazed.  It couldn't be- surely- that she had turned an entire town into readers.  It seemed that she had".
  Well, not only did she perform that miracle, but she also discovered a very poor family with a disabled mother, and she completely changed their future.  
  The title of this book in the U.K is "The Little Shop of Happy-Ever-After".  Perhaps that is a better title?

   I do love librarians- here is a blog that I have written about unusual ones.  Click here.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Jeff Shaara

Three generations at Gettysburg
  My husband loves Gettysburg!  And the Civil War - mostly the strategy of battle.
  In 2010, he went for his fourth visit to Gettysburg- this time with our son-in-law and grandson.  
  On this trip he was introduced to Michael Shaara's book "The Killer Angels".  The cover of that book says, "A novel about the four days of Gettysburg". That was an important moment for John.  He has always been interested in warfare, especially the Civil War. This book provided the opportunity of getting inside the heads of all those involved in the war.  The book won a Pulitzer Prize in 1975 and was later made into the movie "Gettysburg".
   Unfortunately, Michael Shaara died and his special way of storytelling in the middle of battle was gone.  Then his son Jeff decided to try to continue his father's legacy.  And what a success!
  Twice I have surprised John with a gift of Jeff's books.  The first one was in 2015.  You can read about it here.  John enjoyed those books so much that I ordered more the next year.  Click here.
  Well, the first books were a gift for our 55th anniversary, so this year, for our 57th anniversary, I had a better idea.  We went to visit Jeff personally at his book-signing in Pookeepsie, New York- a two day drive that we made into a six day holiday.

 John was overwhelmed with emotion at seeing his favourite author up close and personal.  Jeff gave a great talk and signed many books.
  His wife was so friendly and gave us a great deal of attention.  She realized how important this visit was for John.
Note from John:
Occasionally, in life, we are privileged to have a 'mountain top experience'. This was an exceedingly great one for me!
Thank you, Jeff!

Tuesday, 18 July 2017


H.G.Wells 1866-1946
   This month our classic novel is "The Time Machine" by H.G.Wells.
   His writing is so magnificent that he was nominated four times for the Nobel Prize for Literature.
   Wells is credited with popularizing the concept of time travel by using a vehicle that can travel forwards or backwards in time.   There have been three feature films, as well as two television versions and many comic book adaptions.  His work has also inspired other novels and media productions.

   I have compared H.G.Wells with Jules Verne.  They are both called the "Father of Science Fiction".  

Jules Verne 1828-1905

   Our book club previously read "Around the World in Eighty Days". You can check it out here.  
   Verne only focused on technology and principles that were scientifically possible, or assumed to be possible.  This sub-genre is called "mundane science fiction".

   When thinking of these two men- one French, the other British, I began thinking about two science fiction authors of our day - one American, one Canadian.  I have already written about my favourite, Rob Sawyer. You can read about him here.

  I connect Rob with Michael Crichton because I heard Rob talk about spending 3 months of every year reading non-fiction science material.  He remembers being interested in an article about the possibility that amber may hold dead mosquitoes that have blood in
their bellies, and it just might be the blood of dinosaurs.  Hence, the possibility of cloning dinosaurs.  You know the rest of the story.  Michael Crichton was also reading that article and wrote "Jurassic Park".  Two interesting men and great science fiction authors.

Michael Crichton
Rob Sawyer

Saturday, 15 July 2017

James Michener, continued

Some interesting biographical information about this author:
- didn't know his biological parents or place of birth
- raised by Mabel Michener- a Quaker woman in Pennsylsvania
- became a high school English teacher, then a university professor
- conscripted in W.W. II- naval officer, travelling in the South Pacific Ocean
- ran as a Democratic candidate for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives
- Secretary for the 1967-68 Pennsylvania Constitutional Convention
- member of the Electoral College
- wrote about his political experience: "Presidential Lottery: The Reckless Gamble in Our Electoral System".  He preferred the direct popular vote, which would have saved the Americans from the situation that they are in now.

   James Michener is known for his lengthy books and meticulous research.    His books have been made into stage plays as well as movies.

 He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1948 for "Tales of the South Pacific".
 He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977.

A fascinating man.  I am searching for a copy of his biography "The World is My Home".

Monday, 10 July 2017

"Recessional" by James Michener

  Before I retired, I had been reading "Recessional" and was sharing my enjoyment of James Michener's writing with my co-workers.   
  So, when I retired, the staff presented me with this collection of his work. 

     Soon after retirement, I got very involved with book clubs and, sad to say, this great collection became a lovely decoration on my bookshelf.        The bookends were part of the gift and added to the decoration.    Aren't they adorable?
Oh, yes, and here are the paperbacks.  I read "Hawaii" aloud to John and it took 75 days. 
You can read about it here.

   Since the summer is starting, there is less time needed for book clubs, so I decided to re-read "Recessional".  The title refers to the music played at the end of a church service and the plot is around a retirement residence in Florida.  All of Michener's books are lengthy.  Now I remember my love/hate relationship with Michener.  He loves to write detail, detail, detail.  Sometimes I love it, sometimes I hate it.  I experienced that seesaw in re-reading this book.  It is 21 years since I read it the first time, and now I am the age of the residents (older than some).  It certainly was a different experience.
   End of life issues are a dominant theme in the book, so I wasn't surprised to learn that he wrote this book when he was 88 and died two years later.

Friday, 7 July 2017

"The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper" by Phaedra Patrick

   Arthur Pepper is a 69 -year-old widower.  On the first anniversary of his wife, Miriam's death, he is cleaning out her clothes and finds a charm bracelet with several charms on it- an elephant and a book each have an engraving.  There is also a tiger, heart, ring, paint palette, thimble, and a flower.  Arthur has never seen this bracelet throughout his long marriage.  He realizes that there were things about his wife that he did not know about and he becomes "curious". 
   I very quickly connected this book to another book about a widower- "A man Named Ove" by Fredrick Backman.  I wrote about that book here.  I really didn't enjoy that book.
   This book was a better read for me, although not great.
  As Arthur searches for clues about the charms, and thus about Miriam's life, he meets some very unusual people.  In that respect, it reminded me of "The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry", who also met interesting people on his journey.
   For those who enjoyed those two books, this would be a fun read.
  A first book for this author, it is not well-written, but has some interesting aspects.  It is a quick, okay read that must be loved by many people because it is being made into a movie.
  Aren't the covers interesting?  The author lives in England and is writing a sequel.  This book is also being translated into many languages.  Perhaps a simple, wacky book like this is what most people like to read.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Preston Library Book Club

Preston Library Book Club

   This picture was taken when we were just getting ready to discuss "Through Black Spruce".  These people are such good readers that the double narrative and non-linear storyline did not bother them. In fact, the book rated 8.4 out of 10 - a very high rating.
   This is a library book club and the pretty lady with the flowers is the librarian who helped us get started.  Unfortunately, the library board has decided that we need to be run by volunteers, so Jennifer will not be with us in an official capacity.  We wanted to show our appreciation of her work on behalf of the book club and we said it with flowers.
  There was an interesting discussion about Joseph Boyden's Indigenous roots - or the lack thereof.  Personally, I think he represents the Indigenous community so well that I really don't care about his genealogy.

Since we are celebrating Canada Day, it is a good time to learn about the Indigenous people and celebrate their role in Canada.
      Happy Canada Day!

Friday, 30 June 2017

"Through Black Spruce" by Joseph Boyden

    Preparing to lead two book clubs in their discussions of "Through Black Spruce" has taken a great deal of time.
   I found the dual narratives and the non-linear story line made the book a challenge to read in the first place.  I realize that many people enjoy this type of storytelling and I have tried to get beyond the structure and make sure that we get to the heart of the story and understand what Joseph Boyden was trying to say.
   We are reading this book for Indigenous Book Club Month, with the purpose of "increasing our awareness and understanding of the Indigenous people".
Joseph Boyden
   Joseph visited our city in 2006, when we read "Three Day Road" for One Book One Community.  This book is supposedly a follow-up, although it is very different.  It is the story of the son of one of the characters in "Three Day Road".
   There has been some controversy about Boyden's Indigenous roots.  I have read much of the firestorm, but mostly I appreciate the quote from Wab Kinew: "Indigenous membership is multi-faceted.    It can include blood but also adoption.  We cannot have identity police."
   Joseph has admitted that his blood connection is distant and that he has been unable to trace the specifics.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Sharon Butala (continued)

   This is Sharon Butala's second memoir.  The subtitle is "A Journey Through Love and Loss". I expected it would focus on her grief after the loss of her husband and her efforts in moving forward with her life- hence, the title "Where I Live Now".
  However, although it does deal with her widowhood, she also reflects on her whole life.  
  Sharon had married at 36 and moved to a large farm, where she connected to the land in a very personal, emotional way.  In 2000, she wrote a memoir, describing those years.  After 32 years of working the farm and wandering the fields, her husband died. What would she do?
  "Every time I looked out the windows to the north and nothing out there spoke to me, the light no longer caught a boulder and gleamed unexpectedly, shadows no longer moved and paused for me, a lump would come into my throat and my chest would ache.  In the days after all the work was done and the yard and fields were empty, slowly, I saw nature saying good-bye to me.  It knew as well as I did, and my neighbours and my friends, that I was leaving the countryside and my life as a country woman for good.  That I would not be back, that it- that life that had been mine- was over."

   Near the end of the book there is some reflection on death: "The people you have loved in life are still there in death; that is, through dreams and memories, and sudden flashes of understanding, you know they are still there with you."
  I have enjoyed Sharon's writing.  She is very expressive and reflective.  She started to write at age nine.  She believes that every author is trying to answer a 'great question'.  Her question is: "What is a human life worth?"  And in particular, "What is a woman's life worth?"

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

"Wild Stone Heart" by Sharon Butala

Sharon Butala
  I have mentioned meeting Sharon Butala and I discovered that she had written a new memoir since the passing of her husband.
  I put my name on the waiting list at the library and decided to read her earlier memoir while I was waiting for the recent book.
   It is the first time that I have read biographical material of someone that I have met.  It made the reading very different.  I was trying to connect what I was reading with how I perceived her.

   This book was written in 2000, about the early years of her marriage to a farmer who owned 13,000 acres of land in Southern Saskatchewan.  For twenty years, Sharon walked the fields, examining wildlife, grass, plants, rocks, just whatever she could discover.
  She thought she found a dinosaur bone, and she did find burial cairns.  She spent time researching the Indigenous people who had lived there in past years.  She felt very close to them and, when asked to speak she talked about the Amerindian because she had such a fascination and connection to their way of life.
  She had many experiences in the fields that she credited to the supernatural.

Monday, 12 June 2017

"Read For Your Life: Literature as a Life Support System" by Joseph Gold

   Since  "The Little Paris Bookshop" didn't follow through on the theme of reading as therapy, I went to my bookshelf for a non-fiction book that deals with this issue in a powerful way.
  Joseph Gold is a professor of literature as well as a family therapist.  In fact, sometimes he combines the two specialties in a practice of 'bibliotherapy".
   He says," When you read fiction or poetry you experience feelings, emotions, as well as thoughts and images.  You see pictures in your mind and you have feelings associated with the pictures.  Most people are not in the habit of identifying these feelings or even of being aware of them.  When you learn to do this, you can use your feelings about what you read to explore yourself, your relations, your attitudes to job, home, sex, children and parents, aging, death, and religion.  There is a direct link between what you feel about stories and what you feel about everything else, especially about yourself."
  I really appreciated his visual of 'a path'.  Imagine you have a favourite path that you know well and walk often.  It is mapped into your brain.  But, one, day, it is blocked- by flood or fallen trees.  "Your life story is like this path, and when it is blocked by grief or loss, unforeseen events such as war, job loss, earthquake, or divorce, it may feel to the sufferer that the path or story cannot be continued or recovered."

   Perhaps everyone is looking for empowerment, in one way or another.  I enjoy books that show the resilience of women.  My husband reads about war, actually, but his favourite author, Jeff Shaara, also writes about resilience.  He relates individual stories of resilience in the face of the horrors of war. "Resilience"- we all need it to live a full life.

  "Literature is healthful and maybe necessary as part of our overall response to the demands of life-living, working, forming families, and dealing with problems."

"Reading can lead to sound mental health and personal empowerment."

 I have once again, been reminded of the value of reading.

Monday, 5 June 2017

"The Little Paris Bookshop" by Nina George

   The cover and the advertising for this book interested me.
   The protagonist is Jean Perdu, who owns a bookstore on a boat, moored on the Seine River.  He calls it a 'Literary Apothecary', where he listens to individual stories and prescribes a book to mend broken hearts and souls.
    Jean was thought to have " transperception": "You can see and hear through most people's camouflage.  And behind it you see all the things they worry and dream about, and the things they lack".
  I found this aspect of the novel fascinating.  Quotes such as: "Books are more than doctors, of course.  Some novels are loving, lifelong companions; some give you a clip around the ear; others are friends who wrap you in warm towels when you've got those autumn blues.  And some... well, some are pink candy floss that tingles in your brain for three seconds and leaves a blissful void.  Like a short torrid love affair".
  On page 37, I read "Novels are for willpower, nonfiction for rethinking one's life, poems for dignity".  Then the novel went off the rails for me.
  Jean discloses how he has pined for a woman who left him 21 years ago.  He had begun an affair with her when she was planning to marry someone else, and continued the relationship for five years, in spite of her marriage to the other man.
  Jean took off on his boat, heading for the south of France.  A young, distraught author jumped on the boat with him.  They also picked up another man who was searching the rivers of France for his long-lost love.  The novel turned into 'three men on a boat', on a journey of personal discovery.  They relive all the sadness of their lives and the novel turns overly sentimental and sappy.  The initial theme of books as a curative is lost.
   The novel is advertised as "a love letter to books".  But that was only the first 40 pages, then it was "a journey of three love-sick men".
  At the end of the book, the author has two pages of book titles: 'Jean Perdu's Emergency Literary Pharmacy'.  I could have skipped from page 40 to the end.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Narrative Modes

   As much as I enjoy books, I also appreciate organization- organization of books and organization of story.
    I have been complaining about 'disruptive' plotlines. Why do authors write this way? Whine, whine, whine.
   So I did a little research on that topic.
  Quote: "Fiction prose can be anywhere from obscure and difficult to clear and direct".
  According to Wikipedia, modernist literature began in the late 19th century.  It is a break with traditional ways of writing.  It experimented with the non-linear order in writing.  Authors such as: Joseph Conrad, Virginia Woolf, Ford Madox Ford, Marcel Proust, and William Faulkner.  I have read these authors, and now I realize why they are not my favourites.
  Stream of consciousness has never appealed to me, but I can enjoy flashbacks in a novel, when they enlighten the plot.
  Charles Frazier's "Cold Mountain" has been one of my favourites even though it has parallel plotlines.  I have read this books 3 times. It moves between characters but not time lines.
  Lucinda Riley's "Storm Sister' had a story within a story and I adored that book!  The 'inside story' was delightful!
  However, it is the constant back and forth in a disjointed narrative that has me completely frustrated.  I just get into one storyline and it switches- back and forth, back and forth.
  There are so many books with this structure, that I would like to give up reading new books for awhile and just read my old favourites that I can trust to take me on a delightful journey.
   But I guess I will still read books for my book clubs.
"There is something about words. In expert hands, manipulated deftly, they take you prisoner.  Wind themselves around your limbs like spider silk, enter your blood, numb your thoughts.  Inside you they work their magic." ("The Thirteenth Tale" by Diane Setterfield).
"In books I have traveled, not only to other worlds, but into my own.  I learned who I was and who I wanted to be, what I might aspire to, and what I might dare to dream about my world and myself". (How Reading Changed My life" by Anna Quindlen).

Monday, 22 May 2017

"Wild Rose" by Sharon Butala

Betty, Sharon, Terri
   Isn't this a great picture!  Terri and I were attending a book weekend in Banff in 2008, when we met this author Sharon Butala. She had written a non-fiction book and we had an opportunity to visit with her there.
  Sharon has recently written a memoir and, while I am waiting to get that book, I thought I should read some of the fiction that she has written over the years.
  "Wild Rose" is a novel about homesteading on the prairies in the 1800's. But more than that, it is a story about Sophie.
  The novel begins with newly-weds Sophie and Pierre claiming free land and starting a farm in Saskatchewan.
  I was drawn into the story immediately.  I love "Little House on the Prairie" stories.
   However, after four years, and a son, Sophie was left on the prairies, with no home or money.  Her husband, Pierre had left and sold the farm.
  Some of my favourite stories are about women facing huge challenges in their lives.  I was cheering her on as she struggled to survive with her young son.  My interest in Sophie never waned throughout the book.
   However, it wasn't a fabulous read for these reasons:
- some really clunky syntax e.g. "His papers were spread out over the table and irritation appeared on his face, as she pushed open the door, that evaporated when he saw Mr. Campion enter behind her." 
On other occasions, she had so many phrases in one sentence that I lost the thread of the sentence.
  Could more editing have made the reading more comfortable?
- obviously Sophie did a lot of ruminating about her situation, and sometimes it was too much.  I wanted to get on with the story.  We heard the same thoughts over and over.
- Sophie's childhood was related in chapters of flashback, perhaps necessary and mostly done well.  But it still irritates me to switch back and forth.

  This is a long novel, but it did keep my interest.  Sophie was young and attractive, so she had lots of men interested in her.  What would she do?
   The ending is not conclusive, but quite satisfying.

Friday, 19 May 2017

"The Prince" by Niccolo Machiavelli

From my book club that loves the classics:

Machiavelli was born in Italy in 1469.
He was an historian, politician, diplomat, philosopher, humanist and writer.
He also wrote comedies, carnival songs, and poetry.
He was secretary to the Second Chancery of the Republic of Florence for four years.

This book was written in 1513 and is about politics, describing great men and their exploits in power.
Machiavelli rejected traditional morals in political action.
  He wrote about human nature as he saw it- corrupt!
Some quotes from the book will give you the message:
1.) "Since all men are a sad lot and won't be keeping their promises to you, you hardly need to keep yours to them."
2.) "Holding political power was possible only if a leader was ready to act outside the moral code."
3.) "It wasn't necessary to have a religious faith but absolutely essential to appear to have one".
4.) "I love my country more than my soul".
5.) "The desire to conquer more territory really is a very natural, ordinary thing".
6.) "It's better to get a reputation for meanness than generosity".
7.) "Outwitting opponents is better than behaving honestly"
8.) "It's better to be impulsive than cautious; fortune is female and if you want to stay on top of her you have to slap and thrust".

Generally this book is about using any immoral means to achieve glory and survival.  It includes examples of every political leader preceding 1513. You can just imagine how much I enjoyed reading about that.  However, everyone has heard of Machiavelli and this book provoked a huge discussion in our book club.  I was an observer.  No interest there for me.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Great Books

This newspaper article had been saved from August 20, 2011.  Last week, after several rainy days, we found a free day with good weather and prepared for a drive through beautiful country. 
"Great Books" is a renovated mill that now houses a book store and cafe.  It is located in Williamsford, a very small town, just south of Owen Sound, on highway 6.
 From here, it is a leisurely drive of a couple of hours.  We arrived at noon and were surprised at the popularity of the cafe.  It certainly has an unusual ambience since the barn is
 chuck-full of books.  And I do mean, chuck-full!

Tables are arranged amongst many book displays such as this and provide an ideal setting for a leisurely lunch.  The menu  is extensive and the food well-prepared.
The bookstore aspect blows the mind!  I have never seen so many book in one place!
  Perhaps not even in a library!  

There are several sets of stairs with books on every level and in room after room after room!

Of course, I needed to find a book as a souvenir of our visit.  But, belive it or not, the extensive nature of the collection makes it hard to choose.  But, I chose "Tono-Bungay" by H.G. Wells.  I will be leading a discussion of another H.G. Wells book "The Time Machine", so thought this would be a good read.

This cafe/bookstore also caters to weddings and other special events.  Wouldn't it be a great place for book clubs?
Actually, they had one in the past, but it was discontinued.
Maybe they could make another section into bedrooms and have weekend retreats for book lovers.
If I lived closer I would offer to volunteer with the books because the owners are kept busy with the cafe.
I could chat all day about books and help visitors find what they are looking for.
We had a very interesting and fun day!