47. Folk and Festival Costume, by R. Turner Wilcox. I had mixed reactions to this book, which is a reprint of a book published in the 1960s, with intricate drawings of folk costumes and traditional garb. An impressive range of countries is covered, from Afghanistan to Yugoslavia. Most countries get one, sometimes two pages, with a brief description of the history of the country or ethnicity (British Crown colonies and various areas of the United States are covered, for example), plus a description of the apparel and accessories. This book is a sort of time capsule, not only for its sketches but for the countries represented (Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia don't exist anymore). The description and terms of the garb seems accurate, from my experience. But I'd double check some of the historical facts outline here. A couple things I read seemed a bit suspicious to me. One example I found was in reference to foot binding in China. The information states that it is believed that the tradition started in about 1200 with a Princess Taki, who was born with clubbed feet, so foot binding was started to please this princess. I was curious about how this practice started (arguably one of the worst "fashions" ever inflicted on girls and women). The only reference I could find to a Princess Taki is of a Japanese princess born in 751 (no where near 1200). From what I've been able to find, the practice of foot binding actually may have taken place earlier, about 1100 or even before 1000, but it's not certain). The origin on how this practice started is not clear but the two most popular stories involved concubines, not a princess. And the book refers to the description of the feet as "little golden lilies." It's not "golden lilies" - its "golden lotuses." I prefer "cruel," "barbaric" and asinine, but I digress. So yes, before using this book for any papers, double check the information.
48. The Face In The Window, by Chris Woodyard. Chris Woodyard is best known for her series of stories on reported hauntings, especially her Haunted Ohio series. This book is a bit different from her typical collections, where she writes about her own experiences at haunted locales. The Face In The Window is a compilation of Victorian (and some Edwardian) era newspaper articles about ghosts, poltergeists and other unexplained phenomenon. It's hard to imagine today, but these were often big stories. I enjoyed this book on three fronts: One, it covers the Victorian era. Two, it covers the supernatural. Three, it covers Victorian journalism. As well as unexplained occurrences, Woodyard's book covers a couple of hoaxes perpetrated on the citizenry. A couple stories made me chuckle (like the obvious rivalry of two Ohio cities), but far more were heartbreaking and more than a few made my hair stand on end.
49. Civil War Ghost Trails, by Mark Nesbitt. I really liked this book. It's easy to follow and just packed with information. Nesbitt starts out each chapter with a summary of the major Civil War battles, then goes into the stories of the hauntings of each area. The author shares stories from others, including other authors, as well as his own experiences with EVP recordings. It also includes one of the scariest stories I've ever read of a haunting; two women leaving Gettysburg College's Pennsylvania Hall one evening rode the elevator to leave, but the elevator went past the first floor and continued to the basement. Let's just say I hope I never see what they saw because there would be a wet spot in the elevator.
50. Wards of Faerie, by Terry Brooks. Book one from Brook's The Dark Legacy of Shannara series. It has been a very long time since I've ventured into Brooks' magical and history-filled land of Shannara. A coworker was weeding her bookshelves and brought this one to work. I'm so glad she did. I've already put the next two books on my want-to-read list. I am curious as to how accurate I will be with my predictions at the end, but this is a great adventure yarn and a fast read, with one twist I did not see coming. In this book, Druid Aphenglow Elessedil is researching the Elvin histories, trying to see if she can find a hint of anything that might protect the magic users and the Four Lands from the increasingly ominous actions of the Federation. Aphen does find something- a journal from an Elvin princess from long ago. The discovery puts Aphen's life in danger and sets off a quest to find what is described: the missing elf stones. Brooks touches on a lot of history from his previous books, which was a nice refresher for me and provides a good grounding for the action. My one nit is at one point, there is a traitor- and I thought who the traitor was was revealed far too early. I think the suspense could have been lengthened. Other than that, I enjoyed this first installment and am looking forward to the other two.
Currently reading: Ghosts of Savannah by Terrance Zepke, and Inside Syria by Reese Erlich.