Off the Shelf: November 2021

It wasn’t a terribly exciting reading month. In alphabetical author order:

Edges of old books.
From Lynn Greyling, public domain.
Old Books Stacked, by Lynn Greyling

The Long Way to a small, Angry planet

This was recommended to me because I so thoroughly enjoy Nathan Lowell’s space series and was trying not to read Captain’s Share (for its management lessons) again. Chambers has been praised for her character-driven stories, and the critics get it right. Character development is core in this book and the story is a delight as Chambers explores the wildly-varied members of the ship’s crew. It only felt preachy a couple of times.

The Porch

This book was lent to me by a friend whose porch I sometimes share (when it’s warm enough) and we frequently touch on the metaphor of the porch when we sit there. In our conversations, porch is a transitional space between the public of the sidewalk and the private of the house interior. It’s a place where the strangers of the sidewalk can interact (and even join) the sitters on the porch. It’s a place for conversations, sharing of ideas, publicly reading books, enjoying the sunset or simply saying “Hi”. That vision of the Porch is why houses in Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 don’t have porches.

Hailey’s porch sits far from any sidewalk, on the edge of the Homosassa River in Florida and so his guests are more the natural kind—insect, weather, reptile, feathered and sunlight—than the human, but he does receive them from time to time.

Cedric the Forester

This was a Newbery medalist in 1922 and books of this type used to pop up as winners or medalists over the years, but haven’t seen much attention recently. It’s a well-written tale of friendship and adventure in the twelfth century.

Woke Racism

I found this book in a review from the WSJ. It’s an unorthodox view on portions of our current culture and yet another one in my recent readings to invoke Alexander Solzhenitsyn. The book is one of the more clarifying views that I have recently read covering aspects of our current culture, not solely because McWhorter recommends early literacy as one half of the solution for the problems he outlines.

Special Mission

I found a yellowed copy of this book at our local bookstore and picked it up on a whim. It’s a good, short read with a fun lively subplot and an odd over-arching plot that doesn’t add much to the book. I’m not certain what to do with my copy. It’s one of these books that will likely be soon unjustly lost to time. Too young to be digitized and retained at Gutenberg, but too old for the pages to stick together in their binding.

Box: Henry Brown Mails himself to freedom

This was a Newbery medalist in 2021 and is lyrically presented in stanzas of six lines each, representing the six sides of a box, the package that Henry Brown used to mail himself to freedom from the south in 1849. Although the format isn’t what I typically think of as a Newbery, the book and its story is an important addition to the Newbery list.

Books read in November:

Chambers, B. (2016). The Long Way to a small, Angry planet. Harper Voyager, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
Hailey, C. (2021). The porch: Meditations on the edge of nature. The University of Chicago Press.
Marshall, B. (1921). Cedric the Forester. D. Appleton and Company. Retrieved from
McWhorter, J. H. (2021). Woke racism: How a new religion has betrayed Black America. Portfolio/Penguin.
Muller, J. E. (1963). Special mission. Vega Books, Inc.
Weatherford, C. B., Wood, M., & Graham, D. (2020). Box: Henry Brown Mails himself to freedom. Findaway World, LLC.

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