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In Search of Manning Coles

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In Search of Manning Coles: 10/26/10

I am a list keeper. I have been since seventh grade. I have lists of things I've done, things I've read, things I want to do and things I want to read. I am not always good about annotating the reasons behind the things on my lists. I am getting better about leaving notes to myself in my lists but I wish I had always been as diligent.

Take for instance my list of books I want to read. I have transferred it from a paper list to to Cliff's wishlist to my own website and into GoodReads where it currently resides. Not all wishlists have had places to make annotations and so what I'm left with for the earliest books on my list are just titles and authors and the date when I entered the wish into the current list.

After letting the list grow on GoodReads to the point where it's almost 500 titles long I decided to start putting the books on hold, oldest ones first, at my library. At first I wasn't having much success. My tastes are eclectic and tend towards out of print books. Then for my academic research I learned how to use the Link+ system and realized (duh!) that I could also get my fun reading this way too.

Thankfully Link+ has made me able to get access to the vast majority of the books I want to read. These last couple months I've knocked nearly a dozen books off my list. Most of them I can remember why I wanted them.

And that brings me to my current Link+ read, A Toast to Tomorrow, originally printed in Britain as Pray Silence in 1940. It's one of the best books I've read this year but I don't remember why or when exactly I added it to my wishlist. The Cliff's date is September 22, 2007 but I have a nagging feeling it's been on my wishlist even longer.

For the last day or so I have been trying to search the internet (Google, Google Scholar, the academic journal databases at San Jose State, the Library of Congress and NPR's website) for clues to what inspired me to add the book.

I haven't gotten anywhere to jogging my memory which is appropriate for the book as it starts with a man having amnesia. Like Klauss Lehman I am waiting for that defining moment where the fog in my memory will clear and I will finally be able to remember why I added the book.

What I have learned in the process is that Manning Coles is actually two people (Adelaide) Manning and (Cyrus) Coles. They were next door neighbors. Both had war experience from WWI and were active in the war effort for the second war. Together they were able to create realistic depictions of the war that meld the brutality of it with a deliciously wry sense of humor. Their first hand knowledge also helped them predict some of the aspects of the war's progression making A Toast to Tomorrow read as if it were written the aid of 20/20 hindsight at times. To learn more about Manning Coles please read the article at Rue Morgue Press.

So as I wrack my brain in perhaps a vain attempt to remember I have some theories behind when and why I might have added the book. I could have heard of the book when I was reading through either Patricia Highsmith's or Alan Furst's books. I might have heard it mentioned on NPR in comparison to Furst's WWII books (as they are very similar in tone). It's possible someone at BookCrossing could have recommended it to me although I don't have any memories of it being recommended by a specific person. It's also possible I started it reading it when I was visiting someone and didn't have a chance to finish it while I was there.

If you were the person who recommended the book to me or remember me adding it to my wishlist, please let me know.

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Comment #1: Saturday, October, 30, 2010 at 19:30:13


I'm sure it wasn't me that inspired you to add this to your TBR list. I think its fantastic that you are getting to them. My list is only about 400 long and I actually already own many of them. I think that is something that I'm going to begin as well.

Thank you for the inspiration.

Comment #2: Saturday, November 6, 2010 at 10:25:39


It feels good to read books I really want to read and to see the list shrink a little. I've stopped accepting review books right now in lieu of my wishlist. The wishlist is more fun and less stressful.

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