Browsing Archives for Country Life Books

I recently placed a huge order at Alibris, my favorite on-line used bookstore for some new book giveaways. The new books will start arriving any day forcing me to clear some space on my desk for all the new books which brings me to the reason for this post…

I know… it has a certain ring to it doesn’t it? 

Earlier this Fall, I was all hyped up to do a James Bond Giveaway. I had the books, I took the photos, I prepared a James Bond survey where readers could choose their favorite Bond, I rehearsed my speech, I chose my outfit, I brushed my hair, I groomed the cats… and then I went to see the Quantum Solace, the new James Bond movie.

It was such a disappointment to me, that I lost heart and could not bring myself to post the give-away. Then I felt like such an old fuddy duddy for not liking the new James Bond movie that I struggled with even looking at myself in the mirror for several days. Then I read several reviews that basically felt the same way that I did -that the missing gadgets, and the quirky characters, and wondering if James Bond was suffering an identity crisis and thinking he was actually Jason Bourne, that I started to feel a tiny bit better. I did appreciate the scene in Quantum Solace where Bond refused to stay in a run-down hotel and moved over to more glamorous headquarters as that’s my James! I recognized that guy! But everything else was weird and new and all cutting edge and trying too hard… and it seemed that the real James… the suave James… the cool, collected, debonair James… had disappeared into a new James… a moody James… a brooding James… and I didn’t quite know how to connect to him.

So I put the give-away on the back burner and moved on with my life.

Now that I have had sufficient time to grieve and to heal, I really need to give away these James Bond Books.

They are not just any James Bond Books. They are James Bond for kids books!

Charlie Higson, a writer for British sit-coms, is the author of the series. The books are wonderful action/adventure/thrillers that tell the stories of a young James Bond, orphaned and residing in an English boys boarding school where he manages to get himself caught up in world wide intrigue and espionage on a regular basis. I have the first three books of the series to give away today. The first book, Silver Fin is really the best one, but the others are also entertaining reads.

I also have a copy of Where the Red Fern Grows up for grabs today. The Country Doctor read this book aloud to my kids several years ago and the boys loved it. It is a great classic adventure tale of a boy and his beloved dogs.

I have two books (possibly three) that were unclaimed from previous give-aways. If you are the winner of one of these books and you would like to get the book now, you can certainly e-mail me at Otherwise, this copy of House Dreams by Hugh Howard is up for grabs again. I wrote about it here – but in quick synopsis, it is the non-fiction story of a man building a house. I have probably read it six times… but please remember, I have a slight “people building houses and writing a book about the experience” addiction problem.

Also never claimed, was this copy of S. J. Perelman’s Acres and Pains, a true classic. Acres and Pains is the hilarious story of a city man taking on country life with nothing but a ruddy handy man, a pitchfork and his sterling wit. No one does it better than S. J. Perelman. I wrote more about this author here.

I gave away a few Jeanne Marie Laskas books a while ago. Ms. Laskas is another one of those crazy people with the ability to move from a well established city life to the crazy turmoil of country life and write about it with style and humor. In this book she also writes of her attempt to start a family and the eventual arrival of her little girl.. or maybe that is the other book??? I can’t remember! Either way, Jeanne is a wonderful writer and I am pretty sure that this is a wonderful story. Oh… she likes dogs and horses and other animals too and manages to collect quite a menagerie. Something for everybody!

And now for something COMPLETELY DIFFERENT!
This book has come up frequently in the lists of favorites among the comments of the crazy people who read this blog. A Confederacy of Dunces is really one of those books everyone who likes to read… should read… yes… should… mostly because I would hate for any “reader” to be at a cocktail party or a backyard barbecue, or a book club meeting, or checking out at the grocery store and for this book to come up in the course of conversation and for you not to have read it and not be able to talk about it like a well versed expert.

For what would life be if one can’t occasionally be the expert?

Or at least pretend to be the expert.

There is so much to be said about this book, and I am running out of time because I am meeting a friend for lunch today and I still haven’t fixed my hair or brushed my teeth! So please – click this link here to read about the book, the Pulitzer prize it won, as well as the tragic and sad ending of the author John Kennedy Toole’s life prior to the book being published.

To enter the give-away, simply leave a comment. If comments are just too infuriating for you, you may also e-mail me at You may request one of the books in your entry, but I can’t make any guarantees. Winners will be chosen randomly. This contest will end at 9:00 am CST Thursday January 8th.

Off to lunch!


Sorrowfully and with much wringing of the hands, I must tell you that this contest is over.

If ever there was a book that I wish I had written, it would have to be Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons.
Why this book of all the books in the world?


1. It is a parody.

2. It is hysterical.

3. It is sort of a protest book.

4. It is of course, set in England, which is just about all I really need in any book.

5. And yeah… written to make fun of tragic, sweeping, rural romances that end badly and then the heroine dies slowly in the freezing rain.

This type of Thomas Hardy fatalism was all the rage when Stella was a young journalist and she just had enough of it and was sick of reading books where no one had any control over their destinies and ended up with a hump back and a lung disease. So she wrote Cold Comfort Farm in protest and it became an overnight sensation…and she never went hungry again.

The only thing better than the book…

Is the movie.

I hope you have seen this movie.

Because I can’t really talk to you anymore until you go see it.

So I will wait…..

Okay, tired of waiting.

Just promise me if you haven’t ever seen it and you don’t win it in this contest, that you will go rent it as soon as you can.

So for this Summer Reading Program Give-Away I am offering two of the DVD’s and one copy of the book.

I know there is probably something wrong about offering two DVDs and only One Book in a Summer Reading Program, so you can send your complaints to me and I will promptly turn them over and use the backs as scratch pads.

Cold Comfort Farm is not only a hilarious movie it also features fabulous fashion from the 30′s. I really wish I could have lived in the 1930s. The clothes were so beautiful. The closest I ever got to 1930′s fashion was in the sixth grade when I had a pair of purple corduroy knickers.

Remember knickers?

Corduroy knickers?

I wore them with thick woolen socks and clogs. I also had a plaid wool skirt with a huge decorative safety pin that was supposed to very stylishly hold the skirt closed.

Remember the skirt pin fashion spasm?

I have memories of trying to play kickball during recess in the sixth grade in my clogs and my safety pinned skirt. Inevitably, I would kick off a clog when I kicked the ball, limp to first base and then get hit in the head by the ball and tagged out before I got to base.

And all the cool sixth grade girls would giggle and roll their eyes.

And the boys would laugh out loud.

Fun Times!

Woo Hoo!

Loved Sixth Grade!

This giveaway has come to an end.

This is it folks.

The last of the country life book giveaways for my fabulous summer reading program.

Was that a huge sigh of relief I just heard?

Was it?

WAS IT???!!!?!?! 

Now listen here people, I happen to have a big place in my heart for books about wackos who go off and live somewhere hard and learn to survive off the land and build their own houses out of the twigs and mud and berries and make their own clothing from raw wool right off the back of a baby sheep. But I like to think there is more to me than just crazy fantasies of life in a cabin on a farm on a precarious cliff overlooking the ocean with no one to help but a three legged goat and a husband who prefers to work in the nude.

I like to think there is more to me than just that!

I also like mysteries…

and also…

um also…

I occasionally read books about… 



Sometimes I glance through…



And sometimes I read…


But other than that, I admit to being a little bit stuck in the genre of country life/ gardening/ people who build their own houses/ type literature.

So for the last go round of this genre I am offering three books on the above mentioned subjects that I absolutely adore.

And then we will move on.

I promise..

For a little while at least…

All the books are again from Alibris so don’t go thinking that I am stealing books from public libraries! 

Here are the selections.

Back to the Damn Soil by Tulsa, Oklahoma writer, Mary Gubser.

This book tells the story of a young couple who move out to the country and guess what?

Go on guess!

Can you guess?!?!

They start up a little farm and build a little farm house and the resulting tales are full of humor and inner strength and character and wit… etcetera, etcetera, blah, blah, blah…

But seriously, Mary Gubser lived her farm life adventure during WWII. Her husband, a young lawyer was recruited to run one of the airline factories during the war and he virtually disappeared, working very hard to keep American pumping out bombers. Mary was forced to run a farm and raise three small boys alone. She tells of breeding cows and horses and her crazy neighbors who ran an illegal bar and kept their illegal hooch buried in their illegal garden.

It is a great story both because it captures a snippet of extremely interesting American history, and it also is a funny country story which I yes, um, yes, happen to love.

Did you know I called Mary once?

Yes I did.

I fell so madly in love with this book, that once while staying with a friend on Grand Lake of the Cherokees outside of Tulsa, I called Mary Gubser to ask her for directions to the old farmhouse! I knew we were very close to it and I had to try and find it or I would die.

She was very nice and happy that people were still reading and falling in love with her book. She gave me directions and my friend and I set out to find it.

We eventually did find a house that looked like it may have been the right one, but it was no longer a solitary farmhouse miles from Tulsa. Instead, it was very much a part of Tulsa in a neighborhood that had probably sprung up in the 50′s or 60′s. So I did not exactly get to see the farmhouse the way I had always pictured it.

But I did get to talk to Mary.

And that was pretty cool.

The second book in this giveaway is Acres and Pains by S.J. Perelman.

Here is my copy of the same book.

I think that cover pretty much says it all.

I wish the copy I was giving away had the same cover but alas, I ain’t giving up my copy.

If you are unaware of the sterling contributions to American literature and theater made by S.J. Perelman you can get a small sampling here.

His writing was the humorous backbone of the New Yorker for years. He is simply one of the great American humorists and more people should read his books now. Right now! Right this very minute!

Finally – Ken Kraft and his book The Land of Milk and Omelets.

This is a book my sister and I both love dearly. So if you don’t trust my literary tastes, perhaps you will trust April’s. After all, she does homeschool her kids, so her moral superiority is clearly self evident. She also has pigs and chickens and a real live garden and I think this is all because I once let her borrow The Land of Milk and Omelets and the next thing I knew she was buying a flock of chickens.

And yes, it is just another book about people homesteading in the post WWII era. But it is written with so much spirit and enthusiasm and yes humor, that you can’t help but be entertained and even have crazy thoughts about going out and buying your own flock of chickens.

This book giveaway has come to an end