Bookmarks Magazine

I became addicted to magazines during my advertising gigs in the 1980’s and 90’s.  I’m talking about curl-up and slowly turn the glossy pages, real magazines.  Back in those ancient times, magazines were a mainstay media outlet for advertisers.  As a benefit, I was on many complimentary subscription lists.  From Good Housekeeping to Vanity Fair to Tennis Magazine — they piled up waiting for the quiet evening or foggy afternoon when I could curl up and browse them.

Many magazines are now long gone, and many have moved to digital editions. Nonetheless, I’m still addicted to real magazines, I buy them off the newsstand from time to time, and still subscribe to a few magazines – sadly no longer complimentary, but funded out of my own Book Barmy budget.

That’s hysterical, you really think I stick to a budget?


But, back on subject — Bookmarks Magazine is my favorite magazine.  I’ve been a subscriber almost since they launched in 2002.  A small publication dedicated to readers, bookgroups and librarians — with the charming mantra For Everyone who Hasn’t Read Everything.

I do a little dance when it arrives in the mail.  Just look at the fun covers.

What’s unique about Bookmarks is they gather and summarize a wide range of published book reviews (good and bad)  and summarize those reviews. So a voracious bibliophiliac reader, like myself, can make decisions on whether or not to seek out a newly published book (see Book Barmy budget above).

They also have their own articles and book recommendations such as Books You Missed and Shouldn’t Have, Great Forgotten Mysteries, and Non-fiction Must Reads.

They always profile a book group (with a fun group photo) their reading list and favorite and least favorite reads over the years of the book group.

Regular readers recommend their own list of 10 books, grouped under the heading “Have You Read?“.

Sadly, their website is not kept current, I fear they suffer from lack of staffing…but you can still subscribe.

I suggest you call the phone number (1-888-488-6593) to subscribe versus using their web page.  They are a legitimate publication, the issues have come to me every two months for 12 years now.   However, their web page and social media presence is pretty weak.  (I sort of like that, I picture three or four people sitting around a book-strewn office reading, while their computers and smart phones gather dust.)

And, if I can’t convince you to subscribe – maybe Kurt Vonnegut can:

He weighed in on Bookmarks Magazine — after one of their first issues featured a profile on his life and works;

….the first publication to summarize my career as a writer. I am beguiled by your physical beauty and I am moved by how head-over-heels in love with books you are. And nowhere else have I found such thoughtful and literate reportage on the state of the American soul, as that soul makes itself known in the books we write. News of the hour indeed!

Readable Piffle

Now here’s a book rating system I really like.

Lifetime reader, Stefanie Dreyfuss, used her own personal system of book rating abbreviations, and it’s totally inspired and brutally honest.


Here’s her delightful rating system:

RB: Readable Banality

RP: Readable Piffle

NFM: Not For Me

DNF: Did Not Finish

DNR: Did Not Read

RP+1: One Step Up From “RP”

RPM: Readable Piffle Mystery

G: Good, Different, Holds My Attention

VB: Very Bad

NMS: Not My Style

PB: Pretty Boring

NBAA: Not Bad At All

RR: Readable

WOT: Waste Of Time

Author Lauren Tarshis, Dreyfuss’ daughter-in-law, shared her discovery of Dreyfuss’ codes as she sorted through her belongings after Dreyfuss’s death last week at the age of 96. 

I think I would have really liked this lovely lady, and without question, I’ll be pilfering her rating system

Excerpted from BuzzFeed.  Full article HERE.


Prague ~~ Day 1

We flew to Helsinki and then here to Prague.  Arrived Wednesday evening and a driver associated with our home exchange apartment (normally an AirBnB), met us at the airport.  A very nice plan as we didn’t have to worry about finding the place.  When we arrived, we were met by our home exchanger’s son who showed us around, recommend a couple of restaurants in the neighborhood and the closest grocery market.  A student with perfect English, he was in the midst of exams, so handed us the keys, gave us his phone number (if we needed anything) and was blessedly quick (given our travel weariness).

Here’s the building with our apartment – we’re on the second floor in back overlooking a little rooftop garden next door. Husband as photographic perspective for the very large front door.

The apartment is on a dead end which faces the Vltava river, so it’s very quiet.  We slept like logs and woke early for Day 1 in Prague.

Here’s the river overlook across from the apartment.


This river divides Prague into two sections Old Town (10th century) and New Town –(new meaning only 600 years old). First something very interesting.  We thought our trip was to travel through Eastern Europe — Prague, Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest.  But it turns out the residents of these cities/countries prefer it be called Central Europe – we are, in fact, in the exact center of Europe.   Eastern Europe harkens back to Soviet rule.  So Central Europe it will be.

We donned rain jackets (off and on showers) and head out to do Rick Steve’s old town walking tour. Decided a rainy weekday might avoid the hoards of tour bus groups Rick warns about.

First, we had a wonderful breakfast at a local café, eggs scrambled ever so lightly with cheese and homemade bread to die for.  Even with two coffees and bottled water the entire breakfast came to $9.  Prague, it seems, is going to very affordable.  Noticed as left the café that good Czech beer is less than $2.   Husband is in a very good mood.


We crossed one of many bridges and watched some locks in action.

We wandered back streets towards the Old Town area and marveled at the buildings and architecture .  Prague is known not only for its medieval and Baroque architecture, but also for some fabulous Art Nouveau buildings and facades.

Suddenly we came into the Old Town Square


We spun slowly to take in all the diverse architectural styles – from Gothic to  Rococo to Baroque and more Art Nouveau.  Prague is largely so beautifully persevered because it was spared bombings during WWII that leveled so many other Eastern– Central European cities.  Sorry for the clouds and rain, but you’ll get a taste of it all.


Dodging rain showers we ducked  into some of the less tacky shops.  Such as this fascinating, but somewhat creepy, marionette shop.



More of our self guided tour and exploring some side areas.


We went over to Wenceslas Square which was once (Rick says) a thriving horse market, but now contains every possible fashion store, fast food chains and sausage stands.  Spied a Marks & Spencer (a British department store chain) so went up to their café for a proper cuppa of British tea – a much needed break.

Did some more exploring of Old Town area but then suddenly feeling very tired, we headed back to the apartment, rested up, and had a dinner at a neighborhood restaurant.  I’ll leave you with two images ~~

First, we walked by this office building, a reminder that, not very long ago, Prague was under Soviet rule.

Another reminder of tougher times.  Our dinner at a restaurant near our apartment, was delicious but dominated by stewed meat, dumplings, cheese and potatoes — that little dash of  orange –lower right – that’s  a scant 1/4 cup of carrot shavings – the only vegetable in sight.



Normal programming will now resume…

Book Barmy is back~~~~~

~~ after some necessary maintenance involving a hosting migration, upgraded PHP, coding issues, and all sorts of complicated stuff that even challenged my hosting service (big shout out to Daniel V at GoDaddy).

Suffice it to say, it wasn’t fun and I had a two week headache…




Apologies to my Book Barmy newsletter subscribers.  I know some of you are still not receiving email notifications.

But rest assured ~~~




I’m trying to re-establish  newsletter email notifications to all subscribers.  In the meantime, just check back here every so often.

In happier news, I have much reading to share ~~ your normal programming will now resume.




One special person…

“I love being married.  It’s so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life” 

Rita Rudner



Happy Anniversary to my one special person…

A Tree-less Christmas

It’s a tree-less Christmas this year.  We do not have a tree.

Due to the Northern California fires and the drought, fresh trees are very expensive.  And because they’ve traveled a great distance  –they all looked pretty beat up.  We’re still reluctant to go the artificial tree route, so we decided to rethink Christmas decorations this year.

First, we put lights on big wreath and hung it in our front window, thereby maintaining some street cred on our city block.

Then I gathered my collection of pine cones from our Sierra hiking trips and created a little Christmas tableau in what we grandly call the library, but, in actuality is just a small and cozy reading nook.

Thought you might like to see some photos.


I pricked my poor fingers jimmying all the little lights into the pine cones, until I had them just right.  Then, I dug out my favorite vintage Christmas and Scandinavian cards and hung them.

Interspersed with some birch bark candles and cute singing robins.  Well, it feels like Christmas in our cozy little house.








It turned out quite pretty, if I do say so myself…and I gaze upon it happily each evening, as it’s just across from my reading chair.

Enjoy your own holiday decorations~~ tree or no tree.