Things to See & Do

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A bit of a hodgepodge of activities that might be of interest, both in DC and beyond this beltway.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time*****

the-curious-incident-of-the-dog-in-the-night-time-limited-edition-official-opening-night-playbillThis outstanding play, based on a wonderful book, is about to open in DC at the Kennedy Center (Oct.5-23). We saw the original production in London and then a second one in NYC. Though there were some differences, both were terrific theater, and I suspect the DC production will be worth your time. It not only tells an engaging story, it also gives you an understanding of what it can mean to be autistic. The NY production won five Tony Awards in 2015 including Best Play.

The National Book Festival*****

Nationa Book FestivalAnother event in DC. I wrote about this earlier (see Save the Date). It’s a one-day celebration of reading and writing, with events for everyone in the family and anyone who enjoys books and authors from the young to the old. It’s only here for one day, Saturday, September 24. Over the years this festival has grown, been moved indoors from the Mall, and now covers several floors of the DC Convention Center.

 

Sully****

09sully-master768This film is now in major movie theaters around the country. It’s the story of Chesley Sullenberger’s “Miracle on the Hudson.”  ‘Sully’ was the pilot who landed the USAirways Flight 1549 in and on the Hudson River in 2009 with no loss of life to the 155 passengers and crew. What’s best about the film is Tom Hanks’ performance as Sullenberger. (Aaron Eckhart’s’ portrayal of Sully’s co-pilot Jeff Skiles is also quite good, as is the re-enactment of the emergency landing and the rescue of all on board). What’s not so good is director Clint Eastwood’s exaggeration of the role of the National Transportation Safety Board. In an attempt to create tension and add to Sullivan’s role, Eastwood plays up a conflict  that was not really as central as its made out to be (dramatic license gone awry?). Still, a film worthy of being seen at a time when there’s not much else out to see. See the contrasting reviews of the film for yourself.

The Trump Card

This one man show by Mike Daisey (of The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs) is returning to DC’s Woolly Mammoth Theater for the third time, Oct. 25-30th. (Disclosure: The Trump Card is directed by Isaac Butler, the son of good friends.) It will be at this DC theater from October 25-30, and tickets go on sale to the public on September 26th. See A Dark Theory of Trump from One Performer to Another and Mike Daisey Plays the Trump Card.

Survival Expo & Gun Show:gunshowOn a morning ‘walk’ with our seven-month old granddaughter today in Kansas City, I noticed a large billboard touting “Survival Expo & Gun Show, Oct. 1-2 at the KCI Expo Center.” Googling it reveals this is only one of a number of Prepper Shows on this theme around the US. The Expo includes “100s of booths of survival and preparedness gear” and seminars on these topics.

Where’s Waldo Now?

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OK.

This time, you’re going to have to work harder to find me. (In a previous post, it was ‘quite clear’ where ‘Waldo’ was.)

A MillersTime Baseball Contest Winner T-Shirt to the first person who backwinner-150x150finds me in the crowd at last nights Sox 5-2 win over the Os at Camden Yards.

Ortiz hit a three run homer (after missing one by a few inches in his previous at bat), and the Sox fans, including yours truly, raised their arms and cheered once again.

Update: 9/22/16:

Not surprisingly, I suppose, my daughter Elizabeth spotted me within four minutes of the posting, accurately saying, “Middle left. White shirt, beard, grey hat. Too easy…Your bracelet gives it away.”

She was followed shortly by her husband Brandt who, first got it wrong, as did many of you when he said, “Right fist in air wearing blue and red striped shirt.” But he quickly recovered and wrote, “White t-shirt with the right side of your body cut off.”, adding snarkly, “That’s an unfair question. Waldo was never cut off by the end of the page.” He then demanded I send the T-shirt prize as a onsie for his six month old daughter Samantha (She’s actually a few days from being seven months old.)

And then I heard accurately from my other son-in-law, Edan, who somehow circled the picture and drew arrows to it (how’d he do that?).

Of course, it would not be fair for any of those three to win, being so called family.

The next accurate sighting was from Steve Feldman of Beltmont, MA who wrote, “Upper left of the photo – the right half of your body is cut off.”

So a prized MillersTime Baseball Winner T-Shirt will be on its way to Steve shortly.

Thanx to all who participated.

Dear Samantha

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Dear Samantha,

From time to time I’ve written a ‘letter’ to your oldest cousin, Eli, usually to tell him something about an obsession of mine — baseball — which is a game that has many similarities to life (more about that another time).

While I know you can’t read just yet, as you’re not even seven months old, I still think it’s never to early for me to begin talking to you about some of the important things a grandfather has learned and can pass on to his grandchildren. (You may remember in the first week of your life I talked to you about the importance of pitching over hitting, another subject to which I will return to in the future.)

This letter today, which I trust your good mother or good father will read to you, is similar to one I wrote to Eli in April of 2015 (see Letter to Eli: Never Leave Until It’s Over). What prompts me to write you at this time is something that happened last night in Boston.

Our heroes, the Boston Red Sox (also known as the Sox) were on the verge of losing to our most despicable opponent, the New York Yunkees. The odds makers said that the Sox chance of winning this game was now less than 2%. It was an important game as the Sox were barely in first place in the American League East Division, and the Orioles, the Blue Jays, and the Yunkees were closing in on them. (Ask your parental unit about any of these details that you don’t totally yet understand.)

The Yunks were ahead of us 5-2 in the bottom of the ninth, and there were two outs. One more out and we’d lose and our grip on first place would be in further jeopardy. The Yunks had their closer in the game, a guy who throws the ball at 100 miles per hour. Things looked dire for the Sox.

Then, David Ortiz (ask your cousin Eli abut him) got a hit and drove in a run, but  the Sox were still behind (5-3 now) with two outs. Mookie Betts, (Eli knows about him too), the young Sox phenom, then got a hit, and the score closed to 5-4.

Still, just one out would have clinched the game for the Yunks.

With two men on base, and with a batting count of two balls and one strike, Sox first baseman Hanley Ramirez crushed a 99.3 mph fastball 426 feet to straight away center field, and the Sox walked off (ran off) the field with a 7-5 win.

An amazing comeback and probably the best win of the year for the Sox and a disaster for the Yunks, who now, rather being only three games out of first, were five games behind our heroes. (See this article if you want more details about the game.)

The lesson, of course, that I want to emphasize about this victory is that the Sox didn’t give up, even when everything looked hopeless. The Boston fans (the game was at Fenway) all stayed until the very end. And of course I stayed with the game hoping for a miracle come-from-behind-win.

So, never, ever, leave a game until the final out, no matter how bad it seems. Even with two outs and facing a flame throwing pitcher who is good at getting strikeouts, there is always a chance for victory.

(I know, when you were two months old, your mother dragged you away from your first baseball game in KC after the second inning because she was concerned about the effect of loud noise on your ears. So it’s probably OK, if on a rare occasion, for reasons beyond YOUR control, you may have to leave a game early. For example, there could be a medical emergency in your immediate family that only you can solve. You may have promised your spouse that this time you’d be home before midnight. Or your presence might be required at some other emergency involving your child or your work. Those may be understandable and partially excusable reasons for leaving a game early.)

But never, ever leave because you think the game is all but over and your team doesn’t have a chance of winning.

The game, in baseball, as in other areas of your life, is not over until the final out is recorded.

Love,

GrandPapa

Where’s Waldo?

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jn3_50761473893470Washinton Post Photo/Check out the crowd.

I was too busy watching the pitcher’s duel in DC yesterday between the Nats’ Tanner Roark (who has thrown seven scoreless innings nine times this year) and the Mets’ Robert Gsellman to watch the one between the Sox Ric Porcello (20-4) and the O’s Kevin Gausman.

Both were terrific games, both won on one mistaken pitch (or just good hitting), and both final scores of 1-0.

So the Nats’ magic number’ is seven (combination of Nats’ wins/and or Mets’ losses) for winning their Division and heading to the playoffs.

The Sox are currently in first place by just one game and are in a four way race with the Os, Blue Jays, and Yunkees.

Still, for a team that was in last place in their Division last year, 15 games out of first, the Red Sox Nation has to be pleased with their being in the race this late in the season.

I love baseball (beisbol).

A Seven Year Olds’ First Trip to Fenway Park

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This trip to Boston and Fenway Park with my seven year old grandson Eli was not my idea.

You may not believe that, but you can check with his parents (my daughter and son-in-law), and they will confirm that Eli raised the idea with them, asking, “When is GrandPapa going to take me to see Fenway Park?”

It is true that I had introducedimg_0025 him to baseball with a trip to see the Washington Nationals when he was seven months old. And it’s true I talk endlessly about the Red Sox around him, and we did complete a 500 (or was it 1,000 ?) piece jigsaw puzzle of Fenway Park.

But it’s also true he has become a Nats’ fan first, and the Sox are only his second favorite team.

I don’t care about that. I just love having him sit in my lap and talking nonstop to him at any game about what we’re seeing.

And tradition’s important in my life and in our family. So, of course, I needed to take him to Boston.

Background: At least 60 years ago, probably closer to 65 years, my grandfather took me to Fenway Park and introduced me to that temple and to what became my obsession with the Sox. In fact, the best week of every year for me was when school let out in June in Florida where I lived at the time, I’d go to Boston for a week prior to going to camp in New England. Pappy would take me to Fenway for batting practice before the game. He had wonderful seats a few rows behind the Sox dugout. And as I ‘remember’ it, sometimes players would say to him, “Pops, where were you last night? You weren’t here.” That’s pretty heady stuff for a 7-10 year old, especially when it was likes of Ted Williams, Dom DiMaggio, Johnny Pesky, Billy Goodman, Jimmy Piersall, etc. who would be talking to my grandfather.

(Aside 1: My sister recently reminded me that on one of those early trips I held a ball out to Ted Williams when I was at Fenway with Pappy, and the Splendid Splinter refused to sign it. Somehow, I got over that disappointment and have admired Williams’ ability to hit a baseball all my life.)

(Aside 2: I had good practice for the trip with Eli. Ask either of my daughters, who attended many games with me in Boston, some even voluntarily. And if you haven’t  read this email that my daughter Beth/Elizabeth wrote the night the Sox won the World Series in 2004, stop now and check it out.)

elidcThus, with no reluctance and a good deal of advanced planning, Eli spent the night with us last Monday so we could catch an early flight to Boston on Tuesday. I had arranged a room at the Commonwealth Hotel, which has recently added rooms overlooking the back of Fenway and the Green Monster. Additionally, I got seats for two games, one directly behind home plate, just below the press box, and those tickets came with access to the field for batting practice and time up in the Green Monsters seats. For the second game, I got seats as close to where Pappy had his seats 65 years ago behind the Sox dugout.

(Aside 3: When I told Eli we were going to sit where my grandfather had taken me for my first trip to Fenway and now I was taking him to the very same place, he said, without prompting, “And I’ll take my grandson there too.”)

Tuesday didn’t turn out quite the way I had envisioned it, though it started off well enough. Eli was eli-hoteldelighted with the big picture window overlooking Fenway, loved jumping endlessly from one of the double beds to the other in that room, and enjoyed lobster for lunch. I took him to my favorite store in the world, the enormous Red Sox Team Store across the street from the ballpark on Yawkey Way. Despite telling him we wouldn’t buy anything until we had walked through the entire store, he began pointing out things he knew he wanted within 30 seconds of entering this overwhelming collection of must have Sox paraphernalia.

But then things began to diverge from my carefully planned agenda. About 4:30 PM we were walking to where we were supposed to gather for our pregame Fenway tour. I stopped to ask directions, and, unbeknownst to me, Eli kept walking. When I turned around, he wasn’t there. Thirty seconds later (it seemed much longer at the time) I found him being comforted by two street program sellers. Eli and I were both relieved to have found each other. (Don’t tell his parents about this part of our trip please.)

Anyway, back together, Eli and I met our tour leader, and he took us up to the viewing section on top of the Green Monster. Eli had his glove, but the closest batting practice ‘home run’ was one section away. He was disappointed not to have gotten a ball. When an usher pointed out that one of the ‘home run’ balls had gone over his head had broken a windshield in a parked car across Landsdowne Street, Eli forgot about his disappointment and kept talking about the broken windshield and how far the ball had gone.

Next, we went onto the field and were able to stand just behind the batting cage. We had brought a number of items we hoped we could get signed by David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Mookie Betts and any other Sox players we saw. Unfortunately, there were no Sox players anywhere to be seen. It was the Tampa Bay players who were taking batting practice as the Sox had completed their batting practice already and were in their clubhouse. No signatures for us, and no chance to meet David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, or Mookie Betts.

bricksBefore the game actually began, I took him to the patio inside Gate B where there were bricks ‘inscribed’ by fans who donated money for a resurfacing of the patio and to support a charity. It took a few minutes, but I found the two bricks I had purchased, one saying “Thanks Pappy, Love Richard” and a second one saying, “Beth, Keep the Flame Alive, Love Papa.” I don’t think Eli was particularly impressed as he was hungry and ready for the game to start.

Finally the game. Great seats, directly behind the catcher and high enough that we had a ‘bird’s eye’ view and could see if the umpire was right or wrong in calling balls and strikes. First inning Tampa Bay got a run. The Sox later tied it and went ahead, only to see Rays get two runs and tie it up. I had told him there would be a message on the scoreboard with his name after the fifth inning. But that time came and went, and we didn’t see any message. In the eighth inning, just seconds after I mentioned to Eli that Tampa Bay’s best player was coming to bat, Evan Longoria hit a ball 434 feet over the Green Monster and out of the park to put Tampa Bay ahead by one run. Dustin Pedroia, Mookie Betts, and David Ortiz couldn’t get the run back, and Eli’s first game at Fenway was over, a 4-3 loss.

(Aside 4: I’ve chosen not to burden Eli with the Red Sox pessimism and realities with which I grew up — 48 years of never winning the World Series and the fact that my grandfather never saw them win a WS at all. Yes, the Sox finally won the WS in 2004 after 86 years of not doing so and went on to win two more WS within the decade. Nevertheless, Red Sox fans, myself included, have yet to overcome the pessimism and fatalism that those 86 years instilled.)

The next day I drove Eli to see where I had lived on Beacon Street when I was born, just a stone’s throw from Fenway and to see where my father had lived in Brookline when he was Eli’s age. We also saw where his mother had lived after college, amazingly, just across the street from where my father, her grandfather, his great grandfather had lived. We went back to the Sox store, our third trip, and then headed to an afternoon game where we had seats near where my grandfather had had his season tickets. We were three rows off the field and just behind where the Sox players waited ‘on deck’ to bat. Eli seemed pretty tired (he had stayed up almost to midnight the previous day), and when the Rays again scored a run in the first inning and two in the second, he said something like, “Here we go again.”

He revived when David Ortiz, from the on deck ‘circle’, picked up a foul ball, looked into the stands, spotted Eli, and flipped the ball to him over the screen. Unfortunately, a guy just in front of us grabbed the ball and gave it to some other kid. As the game went on, the Rays went ahead 4-1, and Eli had been unable to get a used ball, despite everyone around us trying to help. I told him not to give up, and shortly thereafter, the ball boy flipped ball over the screen to him, and with his glove on his left hand and sitting on my shoulders, he caught it.

Heaven.

eli-fingerWe probably could have come home then, but now Eli was lit up. The Sox loaded the bases, and Hanley Ramirez hit one over the Green Monster, making the score 5-4 Sox. Then ‘we’ got another run, but the Rays tied the game, 6-6. I saw a second loss coming, but not Eli. He was rewarded for his optimism and hope as the Sox scored two runs in the eighth and held firm in the 9th inning.

Eli had his ‘caught’ baseball, seen a Sox grand slam, and had his first Fenway victory. The loss from game one was forgotten, as was his not getting autographs or seeing his name on the scoreboard. (We later learned, thanks to the very helpful Reservations Manager at the hotel, Evan Somma, the message had indeed been posted, just not on the main scoreboard. See the picture at the top of this post). On the way out, I challenged Eli to show me where the two ‘family’ bricks were, and he led me right to them.

At dinner, he told me his five favorite things over the two days: 1) seeing his first game in Fenway, 2) catching a ball, 3) spending time with grandpapa, 4) seeing a grand slam over the Green Monster, and 5) seeing Fenway Park. (Sure I loved number three, but actually I loved them all!)

Assuming Eli keeps his word and takes his children and grandchildren to Fenway, that will make for seven generations and well over 100 years of Sox support in our one small family.

How’s that for keeping the flame alive?

One of the Best Nonfiction Books of All Time (NYT) ?

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If Ellen hadn’t continued to rave about this book, I would not have read it. The title, The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration, by Isabel Wilkerson (2010), didn’t seem to be something that would interest me.

Fortunately, I followed Ellen’s advice and read and listened to the 640 page nonfiction story of the southern black migration to the Northeast, Midwest and West Coast. I couldn’t put the book down. I found I was learning something on virtually every page I read.

The book covers the exodus and migration of six million blacks within our country between 1915 and 1970. In what was actually an ‘internal migration’ that had significant impacts on both where they came from and where they went, it is a story and a look at history that largely differs from what has previously been written about this movement out of the south and across the country.

In many ways Warmth of Other Suns reminded me of John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. As he told the story of the Joads, an ‘Okie’ family that left the Midwest because of the dust storms and ‘moved’ to California, he not only told their story but in what is called ‘interchapters’ explained the history of the times. Just as that book has stayed with me ever since I read it in school, Wilkerson’s book will stay with me.

Wilkerson takes three individuals and follows them from their southern roots to their new homes, giving us an understanding of why these individuals needed to leave the Jim Crow south despite their families having lived there for generations. She follows them on their ‘escape’ by overground railway and, in one case by car, to their new homes. She then tells what happened to each of these three and their families over the next 50+ years of their life.

In preparation for writing Warmth of Other Suns, Wilkerson interviewed more than 1200 individuals before she settled on the three stories in this book. She traveled to each southern home, followed their paths north, and continued to interview the three individuals and their families for many years in their new homes. And similar to Steinbeck, she incorporates what she learned from the 1200 interviews as well as her exploration of census data, newspapers, historical records, etc. into ‘interchapters’ that put these three stories in context.

I’m not sure I’m qualified to agree or disagree with the NY Times about The Warmth of Other Suns being one of the best all time nonfiction books. However, it will certainly be at the top of my list of favorite reads in 2016.

Save the Date: National Book Festival

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If books and reading are important in your life and if you live anywhere near Washington, DC, mark your calendar for Saturday, September 24, 2106. That’s when the Library of Congress National Book Festival takes place at the Washington Convention Center from 8:30 am to 10 pm. There is no admission charge and all of the activities are free.

Now in its 16th year, it’s a day filled with author talks, children’s story telling, thematic programs, panel discussions, family friendly activities, author signings, and book sales (DC’s Politics-Prose is again the official bookseller!).

To get a quick look at what is happening when, see this Schedule, or to read about all of the activities, go to the Information Page of the Festival. For an alphabetical listing of all the authors who are attending the Festival, see the Author’s List.

(Note: The National Book Festival has become immensely popular, especially since it is now held indoors and is limited to one day. Many of the children and family activities start at 10 AM and get quite crowded as the day progresses. In fact, the entire Book Festival gets crowded as the day progresses. It makes sense spending some time reviewing the program before heading to the Festival so you can plan your time there and know where to go once you enter the Convention Center.)

ICYMI: Best/Most Popular Summer Posts

I haven’t done too much posting over the summer months as travel, family, baseball, and reading have been more prominent in my wonderful freedom to choose each day how I spend my time.

Still, there have been some posts, some of which you may have missed because of your own summer activities. And so, below are links to various posts from the last three months, organized generally by topic.

Travel & Photography – mostly photographs with a bit of my writing about trips to Spain, Louisiana, and Ireland:

*Andalusiai: Thru Ellen’s Eyes

*Thru Ellen’s Lens: The Alligator Blinked First

*Ireland Thru Ellen’s Lens

Family – some thoughts, photos, and musings about family

*She Died too Soon

*The Importance of Fathers

*More Things I Never Knew or What I Learned Last Weekend

Books – not wanting to wait a whole year, I’ve posted what books I’m enjoying and what some of you have reported to have enjoyed in the first part of 2016:

*I’m Reading What You Recommended, Part I

*New Reads, Recent Favorites, Part II

*Books MillersTime Readers Are Enjoying

*More Mid-Summer Recommendations by MT Readers

Films/Theater – nine films and a play:

*Movies: Three to See

*Six Movies to Consider

*Writing at Its Best – (Joe Posnanski on the play Hamilton and his daughter)

Baseball – surprisingly (to me), I haven’t posted much about my obsession with the Red Sox and baseball, tho I’ve spent many hours on this important matter all summer. (Note: as of this post, the mighty Sox are tied for first place in the AL East.)

*Join Me for a Nats’ Game in Sept./Oct.

Articles of Interest/The Outer Loop – attempts to pull from other writers understandings of what is occurring in our political world, along with a simple statement on why I voted for Hilliary in the DC primary and will do so in the general election:

*Trump Voters: Strangers in Their Own Land?

*“I Want My Country Back”

*I Voted for Hilliary Today

It’s not too late to add your voice, thoughts, comments to any of the above posts.

Join Me for a Nats’ Game in Sept./Oct.

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It appears the Washington Nationals will once again make it to the playoffs, perhaps this time with a better opportunity of not being eliminated immediately.

In the meantime, I have a number of games available, either for you to join me or to get two tickets for yourself. No cost to you if you join me, and no cost if you take two tickets and agree to take a kid. If the two tickets are just for yourself, then that will cost you the face value ($60 per ticket).

The seats are terrific, between home and first, close to home, about 20 rows off the field. In some cases, I have parking next to the stadium.

Let me know if you’re interested and give me an option or two so I can juggle various requests. Email me: samesty84@gmail.com

Wed., Sept. 7, 7:05 vs Braves

Sat., Sept. 10, 7:05 vs Phillies

Tues., Sept 13, 7:05 vs Mets

Mon., Sept 26, 7:05 vs Diamondbacks – two tickets (I cannot attend)

Tues., Sept 27, 7:05 vs Diamondbacks – two tickets  (I cannot attend, and these seats are just four rows behind Visitors’ dugout)

Wed., Sept. 28, 7:05 vs Diamondbacks

Sat. Oct. 1, 4:05 vs Marlins

Sun., Oct. 2, 3:05 vs Marlins, final game of the season

I will wait a few days before deciding who gets what tickets in case of people wanting similar dates, games. So if you read this post and respond by Sept.5, I’ll try to make duplicative requests work.

Trump Voters: Strangers in Their Own Land?

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Another Article of Interest for MillersTime readers, one I have posted in The Outer Loop section of my blog.

In this article, taken in part from his new book, Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right, sociologist and author Arlie Russell Hochschild reports on five years of interviews with a portion of our population who find themselves strangers in their own country and who, though they didn’t start out as Trump supporters, have been people who believe Trump understands them.

Check out the article from Sept./Oct. Mother Jones. (Hat Tip to Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo for leading me to this.)

Respectful comments and reactions are welcomed.

Movies: Three to See

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No movie reviews for a while. Maybe because our summer has been filled with other activities. But when we have been home and tried to find something to see, there didn’t seem to be much of interest.

As readers of this site know by now, we tend to look for independent films and foreign films, and only occasionally do I write about main stream films, as there is usually enough already available for readers to find that information on their own.

Nevertheless, I do have three films for your consideration, one is a foreign film we saw in last year’s Philadelphia Film Festival, one is a directoral debut, and one is a main stream film.

Ixcanul ***** (Ellen gave it ****)

I noticed that this film is currently being shown in DC (Landmark’s E Street Theater) and so I’m reprinting my mini-review of it from my post about the 2015 Philadelphia Film Festival:

Ixcanul The Volcano_Key Still-0-800-0-450-crop

Oct. 31, 2015: “Guatemala’s first ever submission for the Oscar’s Best Foreign Film and a very good one. This film concerns a young Mayan girl, Maria, her family, and their difficult life in a mountainous region of Guatemala. When Maria makes an adolescent choice, the families’ life becomes even more tenuous. Although the film is fiction, it feels like a documentary and was made with actors who are local people — not professionals. Particularly wonderful is the mother, both as a character in the story and how she portrays that character. This film was the winner of the Silver Bear (second best award) at the Berlin Film Festival. I suspect Ixcanul (Volcano) may be too small of a film to be widely distributed in the US. That would be a shame.”

How glad I am to have been wrong about its US distribution.

Indignation****

Shown at Sundance in January of this year, this film has just been released nationwide. Based on a 2008 novel with the same title by Philip Roth, it is director James Schmaus’ first film (he also wrote the screenplay).

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The setting is a small town in Ohio and tells (another) coming of age story. This time the main character is a Jewish boy who leaves his working class family and home in Newark, NJ to attend conservative Winesberg College.

There, Marcus (Logan Lerman) meets the wealthy (and troubled) Olivia (Sara Gadon) and also clashes with the college dean (Tracy Letts) about religion. I’ll leave the details of what ensues for you to discover yourself.

But there is much to appreciate in this film. You will be come involved with both Marcus and Olivia as their stories unfold. And there is a wonderful scene (15 minutes or so?) that involves a verbal confrontation between Marcus and the dean that by itself is almost worth the price of admission to Indignation.

Good acting, good screenwriting, good directing, and a familiar but not worn out story all make for a satisfying film.

Hell or High Water****

Nothing especially new here either in this cops and robbers western, except the acting is terrific and the story has you not sure whose side you are on.

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Two brothers are robbing a series of small branches of a large bank in small Texan towns to accumulate a certain amount of money (the details of why they’re doing this become clear partway through the film). It seems as if they might get away with what they’re doing (only taking small amounts of money from each branch) until two Texas Rangers decide to get involved.

The story, tho it takes perhaps too long to unfold, holds you, largely because of the acting, particularly the interactions between all four of the characters. The brothers, Toby and Tanner (Chris Pine and Ben Foster) have a bit of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid about them and are likeable characters. The Rangers, Marcus and Alberto (Jeff Bridges and Gil Birmingham), are also crusty ‘characters’ who are likewise appealing, particularly Jeff Bridges.

If you’re looking for a ‘bit’ of an old fashioned western film with some moral ambiguity, and engaging characters, Hell or Highwater will do just fine.

She Died Too Soon

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 Kerry and her family                                            Kerry and family

Most of you never knew Kerry. She was a woman — a mother, a wife, a friend, a confident — who was the ultimate caregiver, taking care of my mother in the last years of her life, and later doing the same for my father.

My mother, Esty, herself had been a caretaker almost all her life, beginning at a very early age when she was a companion to her own grandmother. So I knew one when I saw one. When Esty needed care herself at age 87, Kerry came into our lives to give comfort and care far beyond what we ever expected. Not long before Esty died, she asked Kerry to promise to take care of Sam. Kerry promised to do so.

Initially, after Esty’s death, Sam didn’t need much physical assistance, but Kerry attended to him and provided stability. As he began to have difficulties of his own, Kerry let us know how much he missed us and needed us. (He would never let us know that directly.) With her encouragement, we eventually were able to convince Sam to come to Washington. Kerry, even though it meant she was then out of a job, was most delighted. She flew with him to DC as he had broken his arm two days before he was due to come to us and couldn’t travel by himself. She stayed a week to be sure he was settled and she could trust us to provide what he needed. She said she’d come back to DC at a moment’s notice if or when we needed her.

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“There’s No Such Thing as a Protest Vote”

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As I occasionally do, I am posting a link to an article that I found of value. It’s not arguing for any particular candidate, but it’s author, Clay Shirky, believes “There’s No Such Thing as Protest Vote,” and he explains why.

If you read the article, scroll to the very bottom and click on “Show All Responses.” Unlike many Comment sections following an article that may be controversial, some of these responses are quite good and many take exception to what Shirky writes, but they do so respectfully.

I’m pasteing in the first few paragraphs so you can see if it is something you want to spend the six minutes it will take to read the article:

There’s No Such Thing As A Protest Vote

We’re in the season of protest vote advocacy, with writers of all political stripes making arguments for third-party candidates (Jill Stein, Gary Johnson), write-in votes (Bernie Sanders, Rod Silva), or refusing to vote altogether (#NeverTrump, #BernieOrBust.) For all the eloquence and passion and rage in these arguments, however, they suffer from a common flaw: there is no such thing as a protest vote.

The authors of these pieces rarely line up their preferred Presidential voting strategies — third-party, write-in, refusal — with the electoral system as it actually exists. In 2016, that system will offer 130 million or so voters just three options:

A. I prefer Donald Trump be President, rather than Hillary Clinton.
B. I prefer Hillary Clinton be President, rather than Donald Trump.
C. Whatever everybody else decides is OK with me.

That’s it. Those are the choices. All strategies other than a preference for Trump over Clinton or vice-versa reduce to Option C.

You can link to the article Here and get to the Comments Here.

Clay Shirky is someone I respect and follow. He wrote an important book — Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations (2008) — and is one of the more informed and thoughtful individuals on the emerging role of the Internet and on Internet technology. Among the many other things in which he’s involved, he teaches at NYU and his writings and thoughts are usually at the forefront of what is happening in this new world of the Internet.

Medium, the site on which Shirky published this article is a somewhat new ‘publishing platform’ founded by Ev Williams and Biz Stone, who among other things were founders of Twitter. This endeavor is to give writers a longer space (longer than 140 characters) to post articles. They also have writers of their own, and I think Shirky might be writing for them. Their website explains, “Medium is a community of readers and writers offering unique perspectives on ideas large and small.”  If you’re interested in learning more about Medium, you can check out the site here.

Finally, as always, I encourage MillersTime readers to comment, respectfully, on these linked articles directly on my site. Please consider doing so and let others know what you think about Shirky’s view that “There Is No Such Thing as a Protest Vote.”

Ireland: Thru Ellen’s Lens

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We recently had the good fortune to spend two weeks driving in Southwest and Western Ireland. The trip included a few days in County Cork with overnights in Cork, Baltimore and on Cape Clear Island. Then we had five wonderful days with our goodireland_map-2 friend David Stang who has spent four or five months a year for the last 30 years at his home in Kenmare, County Kerry. Dave introduced us to both the historical richness of (Southwest) Ireland and to its geographic beauty. We spent most of four days driving with him on the Beara and Dingle Peninsulas and also had the good fortune to visit a diverse number of his Irish friends who gave us insights into their lives and their country.

Back on our own, we spent another week driving and wandering through Counties Limerick, Clare, Galway, and Mayo, including two nights at Gregan’s Castle in The Burren at Ballyvaughn and part of a day at the Cliffs of Moher. We spent another two nights at Ballynahinch Castle in Connemara, County Galway, where we also marveled at the small towns, the National Forest, and our personal interests in stone circles and neolithic remains.

The pictures below and the slide show that accompanies this post are Ellen’s choice of some of her favorite photos from the trip. Not meant as a travelogue — though the slide show is in chronological order of where we went — the photos are Ellen’s selection of what she saw through her lens of Southwest and Western Ireland.

And for those of you who might want more ‘written’ details, you can click here to see the multiple-choice quiz we made up near the end of our wonderful two weeks on the Emerald Isle.

I.16

I.24

I.18

I.26.

 

I.5

I.4

I.7

I.23

 

I.9

I.12

I.10

I.21

I.13

I.14

I.2

To see Ellen’s entire slide show (88 photos), use this link: Ireland: Thru Ellen’s Lens.

For the best viewing, click on the little arrow at the top right of the first page of the link to start the slide show. If the slide show appears to start in the middle, scroll to the top of the page where you’ll see the little arrow in a box.

See all the photos in the largest size possible (use a laptop or desktop computer if you have access to either). They are much sharper and better presented than in this (above) post.

More Mid-Summer Recommendations by MT Readers

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“A Best Friend Is Someone Who Gives Me a Book I’ve Never Read”- A. Lincoln

Not wanting to wait until December to report what books various MillersTime readers are enjoying so far this year, I asked all those who have contributed over the years to  ‘Favorite Reads’ to send me the titles and a few sentences about what they’ve been reading and enjoying in the first half of 2016.

Here are 20 more results from that request. (You can see the first 17 replies here.)

I hope this post will encourage others of you to send in what’s brought you reading pleasure over the last six months. When I get another batch of responses, I’ll post those too.

Thanks.

  1. Sam Black:

Maybe the best book of the year so far…

Into the Silence by Wade Davis (NF). Recounts the story of the 1921, 1922, and 1924 Everest expeditions by the British in the context of biographies of all the principal participants. The biographies tell other stories as well — the enormous effect of WWI on these men, the effect of the War on their generation’s idea of the destiny of the Empire and the relationship of these things to the turn-of-the-century ideal of exploration. The book also covers the 199 discovery Mallory’s body and what it means for how far he and Irvine got near the summit. Recommended by David Banks.

Biography, Memoir:

The Path to Power and Means of Ascent, vols. 1 and 2 in Robert Caro’s multi-volume biography of LBJ (NF). Essential reading for anyone who lived through the Kennedy years and the Vietnam War.

The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris, Vol. 1 of the triology (NF). Morris is a wonderful storyteller and writer. Crackles with TR’s ability, ambition andpersonality. Recommended by Joe Higdon.

Violin Dreams by Arnold Sterinhardt (NF). An engaging short memoir, with several chapters discussing the Chaconne in Bach’s Partita No. 2 for solo violin, an astounding piece of music — the effect of this single work on Steinhardt’s musical development, the origins of the work, and its multidimensionality.

Mysteries/Spy:

The Keeper of Lost Causes and The Absent One, books 1 and 2 in the Department Q series by Adler-Olsen (F). The Copenhagen murder deterives’ bureau ostracizes one of its veteran members, exiles him to a basement office, gives him two untrained assistants, and assigns cold cases to him. See what happens next. Well worth your time. Recommended by my sister Molly.

Other:

The Fall Line by Nathaniel Vinton (NF). The rise of Bode Miller and Lindsey Vonn to the top of the U.S ski establishment. A good read. I learned a lot about how U.S skiers train and advance, relate to their sponsors, deal with speed and pain, and cope and compete on the international circuit. Hair-raising in passages. Recommended by Michael.

2. Chris Bourtourline:

I’ve recently read two good novels: 

The Wildings by Nilanjana S. Roy (F) is a story about various groups of cats in Delhi, India and the adventure that ensues when an extraordinary kitten comes into their midst.

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson (F) which mostly centers on the lives of a British family between 1910-1945. Through the lens of a time warped, kaleidoscopic telling, the author explores the effect small changes have on outcomes in life.

For non-fiction:

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts (NF) is his account as an escaped convict and his life, “on the run”, in Mumbai, India. The story is so fantastic that I often found myself questioning whether it was true but happily turned the pages nonetheless.

3. Lance Brisson:

Most Americans know at least something about the American Revolution, which liberated the 13 colonies from Great Britain. My hunch is that most Americans know little if anything about what historian Joseph Ellis calls “The Second American Revolution” that took place from 1783 to 1789. Ellis’ book, The Quartet (NF), tells the compelling story about how four men – George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison – led this largely bloodless revolution and overcame widespread and deeply held resistance in many former colonies to the formation of a federal government. Their extraordinary efforts led to the writing of the Constitution and the creation of something most of us take for granted today, the United States of America. After reading this book, I believe that the honorific “Founding Fathers” applies in more ways than one to these four men.

4. Jane Bradley:

Twenty hours down, six more to go on audiobook Barkskins, by Annie Proulx (F).  I can see where it wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but I’m quite engaged so far!

5. Kathy Camicia:

Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 (NF) — his magnum opus.  If you’re a big fan, as I am, you will love it—all 1167 pages of it.  It is about Japan in 1984 with reference to Orwell.

Kate Atkinson’s books (F):  A God in Ruins, Case Histories, and Behind the Scenes at the Museum. They are all well-written literary mysteries.

The Best American Short Stories, 2015  Ed. T.C.Boyle (F).  Great selection.

The Street of a Thousand Blossoms by Gail Tsukiyama (F).  Not great writing but a good story beginning in 1939 about a family in Tokyo.

A Hero of France by Alan Furst (F).  Not his best but still good.

6. Ellen Davis:

 

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante (F): See The Guardian review.

7. John Friedman:

Paradise Now by Chris Jennings (NF). This book examines a series of Utopian communities in the United States, like the Shakers and the Oneida colony. All of them are totally fascinating, and though they each fail, they were all able to gain a large number of followers for a substantial period of time. The writer is terrific at bringing out their visions.

The Only Rule Is It Has to Work by Ben Lindberg and Sam Miller (NF). Two baseball statisticians who write for baseball prospectus get to take control of an independent baseball team for a year. Their experiments say a lot about the balance between analytics and people management in baseball, but it’s also just a highly amusing take on life in the independent leagues.

The Witches by Stacy Schiff (NF) The Salem Witch Trials are interesting in their own right, but tracing how this kind of populist hysteria rose and then fell is also an interesting backdrop for current events.

The Song Machine by John Seabrook (NF). A book by a New Yorker columnist about the business side of contemporary pop music. Learning how this works is interesting, and needless to say, the stories about artists and studios wrangling with each other provide a highly entertaining backstory to famous songs.

8. Meg Gage:

Just finished A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra (F). A debut novel that came out three years ago. Beautifully written story placed in the Chechen wars of 1996 – 2004. Horrific, hilarious at points, and a reminder we didn’t need about the horrors of war. I was chagrined at how I had not remembered (forgotten?) much about that war. There have been so many subsequent ones. It’s a complicated tale told unchronologically.  I kept thinking I had missed something and then discovered that it hadn’t been told yet. So much sadness and cruelty that accomplishes nothing.   An eight-year old girl (is) at the center of the story, (and her) survival is at stake.

Another novel about war and a child I recently finished is All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (F), another story about war — WW II — and another vulnerable child, this one blind.  Also very well-written and one of the best WW II novels I’ve read — comparable to Marge Piercy’s Gone To Soldiers.

9. Rebekah Jacobs:

A Little Life by Hanya Yangihara (F).

Before The Fall, by Noah Hawley (F)

Until I Say Goodbye by Susan Spencer-Wendel (NF)

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi (NF)

10. Rebecca Lemaitre:

The Secret History by Donna Tartt (F).

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (F).

11. Tim Malieckal:

I’m currently in a Harlen Cobren move. Definitely too lowbrow for MillersTime readers. Writes like Lupica. (Ed. note: Then I guess I’m ‘lowbrow’ too as I enjoy his thrillers, multiple plots lines, escapism, etc.)

First I read Just One Look (F) which was pretty good. The end was sorta sloppy. Then I read Missing You (F) which I liked a bit more. Now I’m reading No Second Chance (F). I can’t say any of them are super memorable, for me at least, and the titles seem incidental at best.

The reason I’m on this kick is because once upon a time, over five years ago, I was paging through the NYT Book Review, and they had an illustration of him on the authors of note page. I don’t really know why, but the pic ‘spoke’ to me’, so I cut it out and pinned it to my cork board. This is kind of part of my process, Someties I get a gut feeling about something, sit on it for a while, then explore it. Anyway, I was cleaning up my cork board recently and figured I should figure out why I mean to read this guy.

12. M.L.:

Just finished the 948 page Dombey and Son by Charles Dickens (F) (1848).  Before radio, movies, TV, reality TV, there were serials by Dickens.  Dickens’ bad guys are just as bad as any conjured by Quentin Tarantino.  His materialistic men and women are just as grotesque as any Trump or Kardashian.  But he also documents the 19th century–before photography.  So if you can weather the constant plot twists (very, very B-movie), you really can travel to another country (the past — as Pinter wrote in The Go-Between, where they do things differently).  As a writer of fiction, Dickens is not a genius, but as an accidental social historian, there is no one like him.

13. Ellen Miller:

Nora Webster by Colm Toibin (F). Detailed and sympathetic portrait of a women coping with the death of her husband and raising her two children in a small town in Ireland. Beautifully written, great story-telling, compelling read.

14. Robin Rice:

Feathers by Thor Hanson (NF). A fine, engaging writer exploring the evolutionary wonder of avian adaptation.

15. Ellen Shapira:

The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson (F).
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce (F).
We Never Asked for Wings by Vanessa Diffenbaugh (F).
The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende (F).
The Dinner by Herman Koch (F).

16. Ben Shute:

In preparation for a trip to Berlin, we’ve been reading Erik Larson’s In the Garden of Beasts, the story of Ambassador William Dodd and his family’s year in Berlin in 1933. (NF).

Without joining in to hyper-partisan discussions, I am struck by the extent to which the “establishment,” especially the German army elite, believed they would be able to control Hitler once he achieved power.

The account of the murder of two distinguished army generals is particularly chilling.

It’s a sobering read.  We (not me, I wasn’t born yet) closed our eyes to what was happening there. And we reaped the whirlwind.

17. Micah Sifry:

I Shall Bear Witness, 1933-1941 and 1941-45, the diaries of Victor Klemperer, a German Jew who, with his Christian wife Eva, survived the rise of Nazism in Dresden. I’ve never read anything like it — completely transformed my understanding of why some German Jews didn’t flee but attempted to ride out Hitler’s reign. Nothing like Anne Frank’s diary or any of the Holocaust memoirs by Wiesel or Levi; these diaries hit closer to home because they describe a familiar world turning incredibly dark. (NF)

Look Who’s Back by Timur Vermes (F). A viciously funny satire where Hitler wakes up in 2009, gets mistaken as a character actor and is given a TV show. Which he proceeds to use as a launching pad to return to power…

18. Suzanne Steir:

Girls and Sex by Peggy Orenstein (NF). This will raise the hair on your head if you are of a certain age. The amount of sex and sexism that Orenstein reports is staggering. She interviews young girls of junior high school age, high schoolers and college women. I fear for both my grand-daughters and grand-sons…Reader beware.

Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance (NF), a biography of Elon Musk, Space and Tesla motors. Fascinating. The man is a visionary, persistent and egotistical.

The English Spy by Daniel Silva (F). I do love reading Daniel Silva and his character, the Israeli spy who is a restorer of ancient art.

Just finished The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman (F). It is fiction, and the surprise is a bit of biographical history about the artist Camille Pissarro. A good read.

I finished the four book saga by Elena Ferrante (whose actual identity remains a mystery) (F). The first one is My Brilliant Friend, the second is Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, the third one is The Story of a New Name, and the last is The Story of the Lost Child. The books follow two Neapolitan women, who know each other since childhood, their loves and losses. Well written and compelling.

19. Elliott Trommald:

Just reread East of Eden by John Steinbeck (F). So beautifully depressing, brilliantly written – some pieces of that book should be circulated as stand alone essays. My reaction was totally different from what I remembered from the 1950s. I am now rereading books more often – and convincing 3 or 4 people I meet reading in a coffee shop (some I know and some I meet for the first time) to do the same. We plan to meet over lunch or dinner a couple of weeks later for discussion. August 8, four of us will be discussing East of Eden during a Happy Hour at the Fields Bar and Grill. Join us. Am in the middle of Malraux’s Man’s Fate and looking forward to discussion with a young trio I met who just happened to be interested in French Literature. I have read this book 5 or 6 times – it still speaks to me.

Two other books I highly recommend are Edward O Wilson’s The Meaning of Human Existence (NF) and Hanya Yanagihara’s heavily reviewed A Little Life (F). The first, short but important, and I am trying to force it down the throat of my 5 grandchildren, four of whom are mired in the STEM world. Wilson, after dealing with the meaning of meaning makes a plea (really a demand) for marrying science with the humanities if science is going to have meaning for we mortals. I loved this book and love the writer. The second is much much much longer than the first is short, much darker, quite painful and maybe not worth recommending – but if you take it on don’t expect to be pulled in for at least 150 pages. If you get there you won’t easily put it down – and you will have at least another 700 pages to go. If it was not for the hub bub about it I don’t know if I would have read it. I am not sure I liked it – some similarities to East of Eden, but Eden is for me the better choice.

I have not found any more good escapist reading but am desperately in need of a new Crais or Child. (Have read everything they have written.) I tried Steve Hamilton’s first Alex McKnight novel, A Cold Day in Paradise. It won the Edgar Award in 1998 – but may not buy another until my next flight. But I will buy another. This was my first read of him.

A good friend just published his first book, and it is the mystery genre I so enjoy. He will get better, but you will see a lot of Portland in Larry Erickson’s A Bullet for Your Thoughts, (F). Nate Harver is his Alex McKnight. And it was Larry who got two of us rereading East of Eden.

20. Land Weyland:

One I just finished rereading the Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy(F) which was the book that introduced me to Science Fiction about 60 years ago.  Then I was captivated by the idea of being able to use mathematics to reliably predict the future and I was so taken with this concept that I vowed that I would do this for a career.  I soon realized that to do this, I would have to know everything about many, many subjects and this was the reason I took classes in college in every subject in the school catalog except art history and modern dance.  164 units in four years and I could have had a quadruple major in History, Political Science, Economics and Philosophy it I had taken one or two more classes in  History, Poly Sci and Phil.

That is when I realized that there is a heck-of-a-lot more to learn about even one thing than most people can master in a lifetime (because, no matter what the subject, the questions just keep on coming and because every subject, no matter how simple, is directly related to at least  twenty other subjects and they ALL have many outstanding questions that simply must be answered.)  So I left my quest to someone with more brains and more time and decided to just study one subject (law…and soon discovered that it is so complex that even one small area takes many years to understand and even then can never be completely mastered because the facts of every case are so frustratingly different.

Upon again reading the Foundation series, I realize now why they call it ‘science fiction” —It is because it is fiction that is posited as being something that could conceivably happen some time, some where.  It is like the Stars Wars movies which are set in a galaxy far, far away a million years ago or a million years in the future.  (why doesn’t English have a word that mirrors the word “ago” with the word “futuro”

To think that one person or any group of persons could master enough subjects and develop the mathematics to reduce them to a series of formulas that can precisely predict the future  is only a dream or a hope…or a nightmare .  Advertising consultants can’t do it. Political pollsters can’t do it.  Economists can’t yet begin to do a credible job of predicting the future of an economy or a business in even the short run.  For at least a thousand years, Mr. Asimov’s dreams must remain a fiction.

But he wrote well and was able to present an interesting idea in an exciting (to a 14 year old boy) story and I loved it.  Unfortunately the same 74 year old boy is not so ignorant or optimistic as to believe the basic premise and this time it  was merely a pleasant reminiscent read.  Even the writing now seems geared to appeal to the mind of a 14 year old.

Ah, to regain the innocence and arrogance of youth (along with a lot of other attributes). I can’t recommend this book because, other than the basic idea, the writing is so shallow and formulistic/formulaic that it would turn off any serious reader.

P.S.  I also recently reread the The Iliad and was pleased to note that the writing of Homer and his editors stands up to the test of time. (Surprise, surprise).

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If you’re looking for book suggestions from last year’s MillersTime readers’ favorites, you can get to the list in any of three ways:

MillersTime Readers Favorite Reads of 2015. This post includes a list of the favorites of the favorites as well as individual comments by every reader who contributed to the list.

Favorite Books Listed by TITLE, (non-fiction then fiction), then author, then the MillersTime contributing reader. A quick way to scroll through the list, bypassing what readers’ said about each book. You can easily print out this list.

Favorite Books Listed by the NAMES of the Contributing MillersTime readers, followed by title, (non-fiction then fiction), and then author. A quick way to check out what people whom you may know liked best. You can also easily print out this list.