books I've read

Anne Hawn's books

Who Moved My Cheese?
If Democrats Had Any Brains, They'd Be Republicans
Scientific Secrets for Self-Control
Just One Damned Thing After Another
The Vanishing
Exercises in Knitting
The Good Dream
The Very Best of Edgar Allan Poe
The Chosen
BT-Kids' Knits
Talking God
The Professor
The Christmas Files
The Finisher
Home Decor for 18-Inch Dolls: Create 10 Room Settings with Furniture and 15 Outfits with Accessories
Dracula and Other Stories
A New Song
All Quiet on the Western Front
File Under: 13 Suspicious Incidents

Anne Hawn Smith's favorite books »

I'm reading 150 Books

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is still one of the best books I've read. Benjamin Franklin was remarkable by any standard. He had less than 2 years of formal education and yet he became one of our foremost statesmen of all times. Of all the things I learned in this book my favorite is his plan for self improvement. He takes 13 problems in his nature and sets out to cure them week by week. Actually, he started with 12, but a good friend told him he needed to put pride on the list:) My favorite is his problem with organization. He believes in "a place for everything and everything in its place," but regretfully reports that he did not learn this when he was young because he had a good enough memory to not have to bother, but in later life, he found that his memory was gone and it was too late to learn to be organized. My thoughts exactly!

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Saturday, June 07, 2008

Escaping Salem: The Other Witch Hunt of 1692

Escaping Salem: The Other Witch Hunt of 1692 (New Narratives in American History) Escaping Salem: The Other Witch Hunt of 1692 by Richard Godbeer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book was very personal to me as it was an ancestor of mine, Elizabeth Proctor, who was accused. Fortunately, things didn't go the same way with her! The book was fascinating. While Stamford, CT didn't get as crazy as Salem. The book is very short, but it gives a lot insight into the thinking of the day.

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Thursday, May 01, 2008

="Benjamin Franklin and a Case of Christmas Murder (Great Mystery (University of Pennsylvania)

Benjamin Franklin and a Case of Christmas Murder (Great Mystery (University of Pennsylvania))Benjamin Franklin and a Case of Christmas Murder (Great Mystery by Robert Lee Hall

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was the second of the Ben Franklin Murder mysteries. I found the mystery interesting and well developed. Franklin's apprentice, Nick Handy, helps him investigate the murder of Roddy Fairbrass, a popular merchant who dies suddenly at a play produced at his house. Franklin surmises that it was something that Fairbrass has seen or heard because of ghosts which have been recently seen in the house.

While the mysteries are interesting, the most appealing thing about these books is that they give the author the opportunity to explore the character of Benjamin Franklin and the times in which he lived. I have read a number of books on Ben Franklin and I believe that Hall has done a good job in representing the character of Franklin in a fictional way and yet agreeing with more scholarly research. The books are fun and flesh out the facts about Franklin that we are all familiar with.

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Saturday, April 26, 2008

An Imperfect God: George Washington, His Slaves, and the Creation of America

An Imperfect God: George Washington, His Slaves, and the Creation of AmericaAn Imperfect God: George Washington, His Slaves, and the Creation of America by Henry Wiencek

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I thought this biography of George Washington was excellent. Too often we think of famous people, especially statesmen, as having a set of ideals which are static and consistent throughout their lives. Wiencek has explored Washington's changing attitudes concerning slavery. He was raised with the instution of slavery and accepted it as the way his society operated, but Wiencek believes that as he commanded black regiments in the Revolution he began to see them as human beings and began to see the gross inequity of slavery. He was unable to see the instution abolished in the new constitution, but succeeded in freeing his own slaves and making restitution where he could.

I appreciated the scholarship and lack of agenda in this book. I felt like Wiencek had true admiration for Washington and all he accomplished in his lifetime and yet was able to admit his less admirable attributes that were a part of the time period in which he lived. In fact, I believe that he showed Washington to be an even greater person because he was able to review his own attitudes and to change in a time and place where it was not easy. Washington did not free all of his slaves the moment he became aware of the injustice, but he did begin to prepare them for freedom indicating that he still was conscious of the responsibility of a slave owner to provide for his "people" and to consider their welfare.

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Friday, April 25, 2008

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's CourtA Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the classic tale of a young man, Hank Morgan, who gets hit on the head and wakes up in King Arthur's court. He is able to save himself from being executed first by doing "miraculous" things which make the people consider him a sorcerer and raise the ire of Merlin. As he travels through the countryside, he sees ills and inequalities which he tries to eradicate, but which, given the time period, only get him in to more trouble and bring trouble to the people who have befriended him.

The sophisticated social commentary is as interesting as is the humorous plot. Many of his attempts to right some wrong end up bringing trouble on the people he tries to help and serve to show the reader more clearly that progress involves a change of thinking as well as a change of situations. As with any of Mark Twain's novels, the book is full of humor and adventure as well the social commentary.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008


GhostwalkGhostwalk by Rebecca Stott

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I was disappointed with this book. The characters were dry and unappealing and the plot seemed to take too long to develop and then veered off into tangents that really didn't lead anywhere. Lydia Brooke, was hired by her former married lover to go through his murdered mother's notes and to finish the book on Isaac Newton and other 17th century alchemists that she had started.

As Lydia continues the research she begins to see an association between several murders in the 17th century which seem to be connected to events in the present. She also resumes her self destructive affair with Cameron who is involved with a fanatical animal-rights organization. While the author makes a connection between all the events, it appears to me to be contrived and doesn't really make sense. Her research on Isaac Newton was fascinating, but never seemed to fit.

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Sunday, March 09, 2008

A Bit about Queen Elizabeth I

I have read two books recently about a possible child of the very young Elizabeth Tudor, soon to become Queen Elizabeth I. The first is The Lady Elizabeth by Alison Weir.

Ms. Weir has done considerable research on Henry VIII and his children, but this is a book of fiction concerning the life of the young Elizabeth. The major focus of the book is the fine line the young heir walks between obscurity and being the heir to the British Throne. Central to the book is the possibility the she bore a child when she was about 14, courtesy of Thomas Seymour.

What is amazing about this story is the shrewdness of the young Elizabeth and her uncanny understanding of politics. Much is because of her outstanding intelligence and composure. While the subject of Elizabeth I has been covered innumerable times, this book has found a way to be fresh and interesting.

The second is The Virgin Queen's Daughter by Ella March Chase.

Continuing on the idea that the young Lady Elizabeth did have a child when she was barely 14, the story is written through the eyes of that daughter. Her position is fraught with danger and intrigue. Despite her mother's protests, Elinor de Lacey schemes to get summoned to court where she finds out that she is the daughter of the queen. At first Elizabeth is enchanted by her, but as time goes on, she begins to suspect that there may be more to Elinor, and that she could be a threat to her reign. The court intrigues are fascinating and the story is well written.