Archive for September, 2013

The Way Back Machine – Best Sellers 1974

Get your groove on and reminisce about 1974 – the fact that “Kung Fu Fighting” was one of the biggest hits (and won a Grammy!) says a lot about that year…

It was also the year that:

  • Hank Aaron beat Babe Ruth’s career home run record, hitting his 715th in Atlanta. (April)
  • The UPC, the universal product code now scanned by pretty much every grocery register, was born. (June)
  • Nixon resigned following the Watergate scandal. (August)

If you want to “remember when”, check out one of these New York Times Best Sellers from the week of September 29, 1974.



1. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John Le Carré

2. The Dogs of War by Frederick Forsyth

3. Centennial by James Michener

4. Jaws by Peter Benchley

5. Watership Down by Richard Adams

6. The House of a Thousand Lanterns by Victoria Holt

7. The War Between the Tates by Alison Lurie

8. Cashelmara by Susan Howatch

9. The Seven-Per-Cent Solution edited By Nicholas Meyer

10. The Fan Club by Irving Wallace



1. All the President’s Men by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward

2. The Memory Book by Harry Lorayne and Jerry Lucas

3. The Woman He Loved by Ralph G. Martin

4. Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors by Piers Paul Read

5. You Can Profit From a Monetary Crisis by Harry Browne

6. The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn

7. More Joy edited by Alex Comfort

8. Plain Speaking: An Oral Biography of Harry Truman by Merle Miller

9. The Wall Street Gang by Richard Ney

10. The Lives of A Cell by Lewis Thomas


Great Online Resource – Gale Virtual Reference Library

When you’re researching a topic – whether for school, work, or your own personal edification – sometimes Google just isn’t enough. What you need is detailed, in depth information, like the kind found in encyclopedias. If you’re an Idaho citizen, you’re in luck.

The Idaho Commission for Libraries, through the Libraries Linking Idaho (or LiLI) site offers free access to reputable, accurate print resources on a ton of different topics. And, they’re all online, at no charge.

With resources such as Scholarships, Fellowships, and Loans; Fashion, Costume, and Culture; Human Diseases and Conditions; Encyclopedia of Food and Culture; and Political Theories for Students, along with 32 other books, you’re sure to get the information you need (and if not, check out the bibliographies of these resources).

Click here for access!

Sleuths of a Certain Age

In a different world (probably when age didn’t matter so much to me), I might have labeled these amateur detectives as “Old Biddies Solving Crime.” But since I’m starting the slippery slope toward old-biddie-dom myself, I thought I’d stick with something a tad more upbeat.

As Agatha Christie said (through Miss Marple), people tend to discount older people, so they’re the perfect sleuths. Not only do they have a lifetime of experience and patience, but they can drift into any situation by virtue of the fact that they are often underestimated. Throw in keen observation and a wicked wit, and even hardened criminals might want to watch their backs.


Miss Marple Series by Agatha Christie

Start with: The Murder at the Vicarage

  • Miss Jane Marple, spinster sleuth extraordinaire, is introduced in this first mystery to feature her brilliant talents. Here she must use all her intuitive powers to solve the murder of the detested Colonel Protheroe when he is found shot in the local vicar’s study.


Mrs. Pargeter Series by Simon Brett

Start with: A Nice Class of Corpse

  • When Melita Pargeter arrives at the Devereux, a respectable seaside retirement hotel, she finds that she’s the object of some strange glances and becomes involved in murder.


Miss Julia Series by Ann B. Ross

Start with: Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind

  • Recently widowed and newly wealthy, Miss Julia is visited one day by Hazel Marie, who claims that her nine-year-old son is the child of Julia’s late husband, and when Julia is left to care for the child, she reveals the scandal that precipitated her husband’s death.


Mrs. Pollifax Series by Dorothy Gilman

Start with: Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax

  • A widowed matron decides to pursue her lifelong desire to be a spy, finds herself useful to the CIA, and successfully completes an assignment which takes her from New Jersey to Mexico City to Albania.


Agatha Raisin Series by M.C. Beaton

Start with: Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death

  • In order to introduce herself to the picturesque English village where she has just retired, Mrs. Agatha Raisin enters a quiche in a local competition and promptly finds herself a murder suspect when the judge dies from her poisonous pie.


The Puzzle Lady Series by Parnell Hall

Start with: A Clue for the Puzzle Lady

  • Bakerhaven Police Chief Dale Harper is perplexed by a piece of evidence in his first murder investigation–an apparent crossword puzzle clue found on the body of a teenage girl–so he recruits the town’s famed “Puzzle Lady,” the eccentric author of a weekly syndicated crossword puzzle column.


Henrie O Series by Carolyn G. Hart

Start with: Dead Man’s Island

  • A hurricane sweeps toward Chase Prescott’s private island, marooning a host of lethal suspects and the one woman who can sort through them all–Prescott’s former lover, retired newshound Henrietta O’Dwyer.


Aunt Dimity Series by Nancy Atherton

Start with: Aunt Dimity’s Death

  • Summoned from her latest dreadful temp job by her lawyers, Lori Shephard discovers that Aunt Dimity–her mother’s favorite bedtime story heroine–was a real person who has left her millions and the challenge to solve an eerie mystery.


Dorothy Martin Series by Jeanne Dams

Start with: A Body in the Transept

  • Struggling through a painful first holiday season after the death of her beloved husband, eccentric amateur sleuth Dorothy Martin finds further trouble when she discovers a dead body, but a handsome chief constable lifts her mood.


Victoria Trumbull Series by Cynthia Riggs

Start with: Deadly Nightshade

  • When she discovers a mutilated body floating in the sea, Martha’s Vineyard resident Victoria Trumbull teams up with her granddaughter, Domingo the harbormaster, and other islanders to solve the mystery behind a growing number of homicides.


Biggie Weatherford Series by Nancy Bell

Start with: Biggie and the Poisoned Politician

  • Biggie Weatherford, an eccentric and wealthy grandmother from the tiny East Texas town of Job’s Crossing, takes on city hall to halt a proposed garbage dump next to her ancestral graveyard, only to turn detective to solve the poisoning murder of the local mayor.


Sister Jane Foxhunting Series by Rita Mae Brown

Start with: Outfoxed

  • In a mystery set in the high-class and tradition-bound world of Virginia foxhunting, the murder of a candidate for the coveted “joint-master” leaves many suspects among the social climbers vying for the position.


Murder, She Wrote Jessica Fletcher Series by Donald Bain

Start with: Gin and Daggers

  • Cabot Cove’s own mystery writer and sleuth, Jessica Fletcher, travels to London to visit the grande dame of mystery novels, only to discover that the acclaimed author has been murdered.


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G is for Grades

It’s back-to-school time! And while that means actual work for the kids  (though, maybe shopping for school clothes and supplies is work), for those of us with our academic days firmly behind us, the season might not have as much impact. Still, if the smell of crayons is making you nostalgic, relive your school days with one of the novels below. Whether they deal with teachers or students – seriously or with humor – they’ll take you back to school without the homework!


Admission – Jean Hanff Korelitz*

  • Thirty-eight-year old Portia Nathan, a Princeton University admissions officer, must decide whether or not to confront the truth when a life-altering decision from her past resurfaces.


Back in the Game – Charles Holdefer

  • Schoolteacher Stanley Mercer relocates to a small town expecting a quiet country life, but he soon becomes involved with the mother of one of his pupils and develops an interest in the struggles of two special education students.


The Blackboard Jungle – Evan Hunter*

  • Rick Dadier encounters insolence and violence as a new teacher at a New York City vocational school as he tries to reach a group of violent, rebellious New York City teenagers, in a fiftieth anniversary edition of the classic novel.


The Cailiffs of Baghdad, Georgia – Mary Helen Stefaniak

  • Narrator Gladys Cailiff is eleven years old in 1938 when a new schoolteacher turns Threestep, Georgia, upside down. Miss Grace Spivey is a well-traveled young woman who believes in field trips, Arabian costumes, and reading aloud from her ten-volume set of The Thousand Nights and a Night.


The Class – Erich Segal

  • The ethos and glamour of Harvard resonate throughout this story of five men–Andrew Eliot, Daniel Rossi, Ted Lambros, Jason Gilbert, and George Keller–from their first days at Harvard through their twenty-fifth class reunion.


Good-bye, Mr. Chips – James Hilton*

  • Depicts the life of Mr. Chipping, a gentle English schoolmaster known familiarly to the schoolboys at Brookfield as Mr. Chips.


Hummingbirds – Joshua A. Gaylord

  • Follows students and teachers through a whole school year at an elite girls prep school on Manhattan’s Upper East Side–from the an ever-popular girl to a smart teen playwright, from an adored teacher to his rival, a charming new English teacher.


Old School – Tobias Wolff

  • During his senior year at an elite New England prep school, a young man who had struggled to fit in with his contemporaries finds his life unraveling due to the school’s obsession with literary figures and their work.


Pay It Forward – Catherine Ryan Hyde*

  • Trevor’s teacher challenges his class to do a project that will change the world. Trevor decides to do something good for people, but instead of them paying him back he asks them to pay it forward by doing good things for more people.


Prep – Curtis Sittenfeld

  • During the late 1980s, fourteen-year-old Lee Fiora leaves behind her close-knit, middle-class Indiana family to enroll in an elite co-ed boarding school in Massachusetts, becoming a shrewd observer of, and eventually a participant in, their rituals and customs.


The Secret History – Donna Tartt

  • A transfer student from a small town in California, Richard Papen is determined to affect the ways of his Hampden College peers, and he begins his intense studies under the tutelage of eccentric Julian Morrow.


A Separate Peace – John Knowles*

  • A conflict of loyalties between Gene and his fearless friend, Phineas, leads to tragedy.


To Sir, With Love – E. R. Braithwaite*

  • Candidly describes the problems overcome by this Black teacher in teaching distrustful, rebellious teenagers in a London slum school.


What Was She Thinking: Notes on a Scandal – Zoe Heller*

  • Schoolteacher Barbara Covett has known none but the most solitary of lifestyles until new teacher Sheba Hart joins St. George’s. Starting by sharing lunches, then family events, the new art teacher draws Barbara into a touching confidence. Sheba has begun a passionate affair with an underage male student. When the details come to light and Sheba falls prey to the inevitable media circus, Barbara decides to write an account in her friend’s defense, revealing not only Sheba’s secrets but her own.


Entries with * have been made into films.

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