I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry.

Mauve: How One Man Invented a Color That Changed the World by Simon Garfield is an interesting story and full of information about chemistry and science in general. 


The story begins with Simon Garfield, “Sir William Perkins seldom traveled abroad.  He wrote in a modest and unflowery style.  Quote: ‘The first public laboratory I worked in was the Royal College of Chemistry in Oxford Street, London, in Eighteen-fifty-three to Eighteen-fifty-six.’  It wasn’t like the great electric laboratories of today, he noted, with your huge booming furnaces.  ‘There were no Bunsen burners—we had short lengths of iron tube covered with

I could easily name five or six novels that have brought me to tears at the end of my reading.  Today, I am telling a story that drove me to tears from the first two or three paragraphs.  The Library Book by Susan Orlean has done just that.  This review will be different than most.

Let’s begin.  “On the morning of April 29, 1986, a fire alarm sounded in the Los Angeles Public Library.  As one fireman recounted later, ‘Once that first stack got going, it was “Goodbye Charlie”.  The fire was disastrous: it reached 2,000 degrees and burned for more than seven hours.  By the time it was extinguished, it had consumed four hundred thousand books and damaged seven hundred thousand more. 

The Central Library [in downtown Los Angeles] was opened in 1926.  As Susan writes, “My family was big on the library.  We were very much a reading family, but we were a borrow-a-book-from-the-library family more than a bookshelves-full-of-books-family.  My parents valued books, but they grew up in the Depression, aware of the quicksilver nature of money, and they learned the hard way that you shouldn’t buy what you could borrow. […] // When I headed to college, one of the  

I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and biographies.

As the companion of two affectionate and smart Labrador Retrievers, I was happy to run across Clive D. L. Wynne’s fascinating story of dogs and their relationship to humans.  Professor Wynne is the founding director of the Canine Science Collaboratory at Arizona State University.  He has published a number of articles, and he has appeared on National Geographic Explorer, PBS, and the BBC.  He lives in Tempe, Arizona.  Dog is Love is his first full length book.


I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and biographies.

In amongst all the exciting and suspenseful novels I have reviewed, I came upon a funny, interesting little book Ex Libris” Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman.  This slim volume of a mere 162 pages is full of humor and wisdom.  According to the cover, “Ex Libris recounts a lifelong love affair with books and language.”  Anne is the editor of The American Scholar.  She has won a National Book Critics Circle Award and has written for numerous magazines.  She now resides with her family in western Massachusetts.


Funny story of a man growing up amid his interesting and peculiar family

Interesting collection of novels and non-fiction for 2019.

Fascinating look at the universe through the mind of Stephen Hawking.

A young, enthusiastic student accepts a teaching job on an island of illiterate children.


Romantic story of a lonely man recently widowed and a woman dealing with a divorce.

Pleasant series of essays on topics ranging from immigration to the environment.

  True adventure of a young boy who dreams of accompanying Byrd to Antarctica.

A selection of interesting and eclectic titles for 2018

Delightful story of an editor at The New Yorker obsessed with punctuation and pencils.

A selection of books for everyone’s tastes.


An unlikely premise turns into an informative and wonderful romp in the history of shelves