A reading year in review

As I do every year on this blog, I am making note of last year’s reading. This year my reading actually made the news after I donated a book to the library that turned out to have been stolen from a library in Great Britain. So far 130 of my donated books have made it onto the library shelves. I admit that my donations are not selfless: I buy books I like, read them and pass them on to the library, where I can visit them anytime I wish and where they won’t take up precious shelf space in my house.

I read a lot of Kindle books this year, because I got a Kindle Fire. And I read a lot of British historical true crime. My first book of the year was Channel Island Murders by Nicola Sly, in Kindle edition. It’s part of a series where they covered interesting historical murder cases in every part of England. I think I’ve read just about all of them. (I also read almost the entire Grim Almanacs series this year, starting with A Grim Almanac of Jack the Ripper’s London 1870 – 1990 by Neil R. Storey. This also covers various parts of England, with an unfortunate event — often a crime but not necessarily so — for every year.) My last book of the year was a children’s book in dead tree edition, If You Lived Here: Houses of the World by Giles Laroche, which was surprisingly informative.

Almost all the books I read this year were nonfiction. Notable non-crime titles included:

  1. All My Georgias: Paris-New York-Tbilisi by Redjeb Jordania. The author was the son of the first democratically elected president of the Republic of Georgia (during its brief period of independence from 1918, after the Russian Revolution, until the Soviets invaded in 1921). Jordania writes about his father, and his childhood in Paris and later life in New York, and how he went to Georgia for the first time in 1991, just as the country was declaring its independence.
  2. Hidden Natural Histories: Trees by Noel Kingsbury. This book is kind of an encyclopedia of different types of trees. Dad borrowed it and was so impressed that he says if he ever teaches economic botany again, he’ll include it as a textbook.
  3. Keep Out of Reach of Children: Reye’s Syndrome, Aspirin, and the Politics of Public Health by Mark A. Largent. I got this free from LibraryThing. I was shocked to learn that it is not a proven fact that aspirin causes Reye’s Syndrome and in fact no one every really found out what causes Reye’s Syndrome. The author contracted Reye’s Syndrome as a toddler and he was NOT exposed to aspirin. Reye’s Syndrome has pretty much vanished in any case and it’s probably perfectly safe to give aspirin to your kid.
  4. The Diary of Rywka Lipszyc by Rywka Lipsyzc, edited by Alexandra Zapruder. I wrote about this here. In the summer of 2015, Zapruder came out with a second edition of her anthology of Holocaust diaries, Salvaged Pages. (And Amazon mistakenly delivered the book to me one month before it was supposed to come out, woo!) She mentions Rwyka’s diary in the appendix and says she thinks she died in that German hospital.
  5. The Shadow King: The Bizarre Afterlife of King Tut’s Mummy by Jo Marchant. I borrowed this from the library’s collection of Kindle books. It’s about all the things that happened after King Tut was discovered, and all the studies they’ve done on him and the many and contradictory conclusions they’ve made about him.
  6. Lost in the Taiga: One Russian Family’s Fifty-Year Struggle for Survival and Religious Freedom in the Siberian Wilderness by Vasily Peskov. The story of a family who were basically religious fanatics and fled deep into Siberia in the 1930s to practice their strange version of Eastern Orthodox Christianity in peace. They lived in isolation for the next 40 years or so, missing World War II entirely, and never saw another human being until the 1970s, and after they were discovered by a team of geologists, they refused to leave the taiga. The last in the family, Agafia, is still alive and still living largely in isolation.
  7. The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra by Helen Rappaport. A biography of Olga, Maria, Tatiana and Anastasia Romanov.
  8. Blue Corn and Square Tomatoes: Unusual Facts about Common Vegetables by Rebecca Rupp. This was very interesting and my dad liked it too. Square tomatoes, by the way, were developed so that they could fit efficiently into boxes for shipping. They apparently had nothing else to recommend them and tasted terrible.

Altogether I read only 155 books in 2015, down from 188 in both 2014 and 2013. My reading peaked in 2010 with 475 books, over one per day. I’m honestly not sure what happened.

New pictures to ring in the New Year

A list of Charley Project cases with new pictures I just added:

  1. Genevieve Kathryn Alexander
  2. Heidi Marie Allen
  3. Richard Keith Call
  4. Rex Casper
  5. Mindi Chambers
  6. Danica Dianne Childs
  7. Brian David Cook
  8. Jeremy Ray Coots
  9. Shane Michael Fell
  10. Erin Leigh Foster
  11. Sheila Sherrell Franks
  12. Adrianna Hope Garcia
  13. Omar Jabree Gibson
  14. Peter Burns Greene
  15. Sandra Jean House
  16. Crishtian Michael Hughes
  17. Matthew Ellis Keith
  18. Erik Swan Lamberg
  19. Derek Joseph Lueking
  20. Aliayah Paige Lunsford
  21. Timur Mardeyev
  22. Hope Danielle Meek
  23. Ashley Morris Mullis
  24. Thomas Charles Murray Jr.
  25. Kara Nancy Nichols
  26. Georgia Darlene Nolan
  27. Roxanne Elizabeth Paltauf
  28. Erica Lynn Parsons
  29. Lisa Ann Pierce
  30. Lea Chali Porter
  31. Jason D. Reil
  32. Cindy L. Rivera
  33. Jonathan Schaff
  34. Kelly Diane Sims
  35. Patricia Marie Small
  36. Luke David Stout
  37. Thomas Stephen Stump
  38. Cindy D. Valle
  39. Tamala Niecole Wells
  40. Danielle Marie Zacot

93 pics in all, if I added it up right.

Charley Project year in review

The Charley Project turned 11 in 2015 and is still going strong, I’m happy to report.

Who got found this past year? Some notable cases

  • Tammy Jo Alexander, a runaway in her early teens, disappeared from Florida sometime in the late 1970s and no one quite remembers when. It wasn’t until 35 years later that she was reported missing. Almost immediately she was recognized as “Cali”, a Jane Doe who had been found shot to death in a field in Caledonia, New York in November 1979. Cali’s case had been quite famous on the internet and many people had been trying to identify her. I can only hope that her murderer will be identified too.
  • Dana Evon Null disappeared with her boyfriend, Harry Wade Atchison III; she was 15 and he was 19. For years after I had added Dana to the Charley Project people would email me this article saying she was found in 1999, and I would have to explain that this was actually a case of Dana’s sister claiming to be her at a traffic stop because the sister had an outstanding arrest warrant or something. Anyway, Dana and Harry both were really found in January 2015, pulled out of a canal in Sunrise, Florida, along with Harry’s car.
  • Rita Sue Zul disappeared from Fort Myers, Florida in January 1990, age 46. She was found under serendipitous circumstances: a guy had heard about another missing person and thought the cops weren’t searching enough local bodies of water, so he went out with a fishing pole and a magnet…and found Rita instead of the one he was looking for. Apparently she accidentally drove into the pond and drowned. I think the MP the man had been trying to find actually turned up later in another pond nearby.
  • Percy Ray Carson, 26, disappeared while swimming at Huntington Beach, California on July 22, 1992. A single solitary thighbone washed ashore several months later but it wasn’t identified until 2015. This goes to show that just because you disappeared in an ocean doesn’t mean you’re lost forever.
  • Lee Jan Marie Kratzer was (sort of) located in October 2015, having disappeared from Roanoke, Louisiana in 1982. She was twenty. It turned out that Lee had walked out of her life, took another name and had a child. She sadly died of natural causes in 2008, seven years before her left-behind family learned her fate.
  • Kerry Ann Graham and Francine Tremble, aged 16 and 14 respectively, who vanished while hitchhiking sometime in 1979 and were identified in 2015. There were a lot of stumbling blocks in the investigation: the date they disappeared on was reported wrongly, and when their bodies were found in July that year they thought Kerry was a boy. (Fun fact: Kenneth Parnell made noises that he knew something about this case. He was probably lying. He never had any interest in girls that I’m aware of.)
  • Rosemary Diaz, a fifteen-year-old girl who’d been missing since 1990, when she was abducted from the convenience store where she was working. Rosemary was located 25 years to the day after she vanished, in a shallow grave in Matagorda, Texas. The prime suspect in her murder is deceased.

(I’ve just realized that all my notable finds were found dead. Oh, well. We can’t have incidents like in Cleveland happen every year, nice as that would be.)