By Mark C. Robinson
Wrangell Sentinel 

Wrangell's a great place to read a book

 

November 15, 2023 | View PDF



Thanks to plenty of time spent in libraries and bookstores, both as a customer and staff member, along with my own collection of reading material, I’ve grown very comfortable in the world of books.

In the fall of 1996, I had been working for a few years at Borders Books and Music in Kensington, Maryland, and that’s when I got the idea to start a mystery novel discussion group. It did very well, and while several members have since passed on, the group is still going strong, outlasting the bookstore franchise where it started by over a decade. We still meet once a month via Zoom.

Naturally, upon visiting Wrangell for the first time in early September, I wanted to check out its book scene, and so I visited the Irene Ingle Public Library. Wouldn’t you know it, library director Sarah Scambler was starting a book group!

I didn’t have the opportunity to read the group’s first book when I moved here in October, but I got a new library card, was invited to attend and had a great time meeting other readers.

We met again Saturday, Nov. 11, this time to review a book I chose from the book club bag list provided by the Anchorage Public Library. We all read “The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie,” by Alan Bradley, the first book in his series of novels featuring 11-year-old aspiring chemist Flavia de Luce.

Set in the English countryside during the summer of 1950, Flavia (pronounced “FLAY-vee-ah”) has a passion for poisons, and a talent for solving murders.

I read this book 12 years earlier with my first book group, but I had a blast reading it all over again with a new crowd who enjoyed it as well, finding Flavia’s love of chemistry and sense of adventure contagious. I also discovered a kinship with resident and fellow booklover Kimberly Szczatko: We’re both fans of the late hard-boiled crime writer Robert B. Parker, and I proudly showed her a photo of me taken with the author when I worked at the Washington, D.C.-based MysteryBooks store (a dream job) in early 2001.

Afterwards, on my way home, I swung by the Little Free Library on Case Avenue to check out their selection and picked up “A Novel Way to Die,” by Ali Brandon, a cozy bookshop whodunit featuring a black cat. I’m looking forward to talking about it at the next discussion.

 

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