Thanks for the Books

November was a stressful month. The injury that sidelined me for the last half marathon of the season continued to plague me & myself but I pushed through it – ran 70 miles for the month. I don’t think I have ever mentioned this here but…back on January I was a dumbass and agreed to a 1000k challenge. By November 1st I had 267k left to go. I’m now down to 151k. Almost 100 miles. But enough of that. It stresses me out to even think about it.

Here are the books finished for November:

  • Goodbye, Mr. Chips by James Hilton. I thought of this as a short story because it’s less than 100 pages long.
  • Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
  • The City and the City by China Mieville (AB)
  • Advise and Consent by Allen Drury – confessional: I knew that a fictional political book might bore the crap out of me but what I didn’t expect was outright disgust after the election. I couldn’t stomach the contents of Advise and Consent.


  • Then There Were Five by Elizabeth Enright. (AB)
  • Love Songs From a Shallow Grave by Colin Cotterill
  • Toast to Tomorrow by Manning Coles


  • Living Poor by Moritz Thomsen
  • Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn (audio and print)
  • Baby Doctor by Perri Klass
  • The Fifties by David Halberstam

Postscript: it came in too late for me to mention here, but I DID get that Early Review book that I was pining for. I’ll review it next month.

Living Poor: a Peace Corps Chronicle

Thomsen, Moritz. Living Poor: a Peace Corps Chronicle. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1969.

Reason read: Ecuador’s war of independence ended in November. Moritz travels to Ecuador for his stint in the Peace Corps.

Split into four sections chronicling the years 1965, 1966, 1967 & 1968 Living Poor starts at the most logical place, Thomsen’s application. His expertise as a pig farmer made him the perfect match for helping Ecuadorian farmers raise chickens and pigs and grow vegetable gardens. His first assignment,  La Union was short lived due to a lung infection that sent him back to the States. His second “tour” landed him in Rio Verde. I have to wonder what the natives of La Union thought of his departure after he took so long to fit in with them. It was no different in Rio Verde. The community, poverty stricken and on the brink of starvation, is suspicious of Thomsen. Every effort he makes to better their environment is met with stonewalling and infighting. When he does create relationships with key members of the community everyone else is jealous and tries to sabotage their efforts. While Thomsen is humorous in parts, for the most part his retelling of his experience is bleak and seemingly hopeless.

As an aside, even though I write in my own books all the time I cannot stand getting a library book that has been underlined, drawn or written in.

Quotes worth quoting, “The village that lived in my mind was at the end of the world, but by God, you didn’t have to walk twenty-five miles to get there” (p 25), “…the truth is that nothing looks romantic from a banana truck” (p 28), and “Well, it wasn’t funny to me, although the madness and chaos of the meeting had me on the verge of hysterical laughter(or else so frustrated that I simply wanted to bite someone.)” (p 195). I have been there myself.

Author fact: Thomsen applied to volunteer for the Peace Corps when he was 48 years old. Personally, this took me by surprise because my father advised my 17 year old self to join because I appeared lost and without direction. In truth, I just didn’t want to admit my passion was to become a librarian.

Book trivia: this book had an interesting beginning: Thomsen went to the San Francisco Chronicle and offered to write essays about the Peace Corps. The paper declined, but Thomsen sent them his writings anyway…which they published.

Book trivia two: the illustrations are fabulous. No credit is given in my copy.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Peace Corps Memories” (p 175).


Know Your November

I am trying to move into this month without cracking up or breaking down. I’ve lost the run temporarily and even a small interruption sets me back. You know it is with a mental stability that isn’t quite that solid. I don’t want to say anything more than that.

Here are the books. Nonfiction first:

  • Living Poor:  a Peace Corps Chronicle by Moritz Thomsen – in honor of the month Ecuador’s civil war for independence ended.
  • Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life by Jon Kabat-Zinn – (AB) in honor of the holidays and how much they can stress you out. I’m reading this and listening to it on audio.
  • The Fifties by David Halberstam – in honor of finishing what I said I would.
  • Baby Doctor by Perri Klass – in honor of National Health Month.


  • Goodbye, Mr. Chips by James Hilton –  in honor of National Education Week. This should take me a lunch break to read.
  • Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman – in honor of Gaiman’s birth month.
  • Advise and Consent by Allen Drury – in honor of November being an election month (and is it ever!).

Series Books:

  • Then There Were Five by Elizabeth Enright – (EAB = electronic audio book) to continue the series started in September in honor of Enright’s birth month.
  • A Toast To Tomorrow by Manning Coles – to continue the series started in October in honor of Octoberfest.
  • Love Songs from a Shallow Grave by Colin Cotterill – to END the series started in May in honor of Rocket Day.