Tuesday, June 11, 2024

My Summer "Priority TBR" List

Inspired by all of your 20 Books of Summer lists, I've decided to put together a priority TBR list of my own. It consists of ten books I'd like to read by the end of Labor Day Weekend. Rather than joining a challenge, I'm formulating a reading plan. Though I may not get to them all, there will at least be a direction to my reading.


Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin
(in progress)

Horse by Geraldine Brooks
(in progress)

Olga Dies Dreaming by Xóchitl González

Persuasion by Jane Austen

Long Island by Colm Tóibín

How to Read a Book by Monica Wood

September by Rosamunde Pilcher

The Bodyguard by Katherine Center

Dust Child by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai

Fresh Water for Flowers by Valérie Perrin

The Half Moon by Mary Beth Keane
Wellness by Nathan Hill
North Woods by Daniel Mason

Sunday, June 9, 2024

May Reading Wrap-Up and A List of June Possibilities

Hello, friends. It's June and summer is here. We spent several days in Manhattan this past week and one of the highlights was enjoying a beautiful sunset from our daughter's Upper West Side rooftop. I especially loved watching the lights come on in all those buildings as darkness descended... quite a sight! Also on our agenda was a visit to a local indie bookstore, walking in Central Park, taking in a museum or two, and a few great restaurants. I love New York City!

We're well into the month now, but it just occurred to me that I never posted a May reading wrap-up... probably because I read so little last month! Between finishing up Florida repairs, packing, our road trip north, and then unpacking here in CT, I only finished three books.


classic novel, ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz
fiction, ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Sipsworth by Simon Van Booy
new release fiction, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
*May favorite

JUNE READING POSSIBILITIES                                             

Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin
nonfiction, currently reading

Horse by Geraldine Brooks 
fiction, currently reading 

Olga Dies Dreaming by Xóchitl González 
June selection MMD book club, fiction

Long Island by Colm Tóibín
new release, fiction 

How to Read a Book by Monica Wood
new release, fiction

Also in June//
June is a busy travel month for us. We started the month with the trip to NYC. This week I'll make a quick trip to central NY for an early Father's Day visit before our daughter and son-in-law come to spend Father's Day weekend with us. Later in the month we'll travel to Pittsburgh for a bridal shower for our daughter, and finally a graduation party for my nephew in the Philadelphia area. Perhaps my list of reading possibilities is a little too optimistic!

Inspired by all of your 20 Books of Summer lists, I've decided to put together a "priority TBR list" of ten books I'd like to read before Labor Day Weekend. I don't know if I'll get to them all, but it's always good to have a plan, right? Look for that post on Tuesday.

What was your favorite book last month? Do you have any special plans for June?

From the Gallery of Tiffany Lamps


Sunday, May 26, 2024

Back in Connecticut!

Hello, friends... it's good to chat with you again. We arrived in CT a few days ago, ahead of the Memorial Day weekend travel rush. We drove as far as Georgia the first day, opting for a quick overnight in Savannah by the riverfront. (photo above)  From there we went to Chapel Hill, NC for a few days. We got to see my cousin, visit an old friend, shop at Wegmans, and finally had an opportunity to tour the Duke Gardens. Our final stop on the trip was in Harrisburg, PA.

Now we're back and unpacked, and overdue landscaping chores are the top priority. Slowly, but surely...

Recent Reading//

Sipsworth by Simon Van Booy
narrated by Christine Rendel

Over the course of a single week, a woman who is ready to die discovers an unexpected reason to live.

This novel was released to very little fanfare last month, but I happened to notice three words from Ann Patchett on the cover - "I loved it." And that was all I needed. The short novel (5 hours on audio) is both life-affirming and delightful, and I loved it, too. I may even purchase a hard copy to keep on my shelf. The audio is available for immediate download via hoopla.

Current reading//

Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin

This is a longterm nonfiction project. I've read over 150 pages now and look forward to my 30 minutes with the book each morning . Goodwin is both an excellent writer and storyteller.

Horse by Geraldine Brooks

I just started this book yesterday and was surprised to find one of the storylines takes place in Lexington, KY in the 1850s. I've spent time there with Team of Rivals, too! This is a read/listen combination and it's off to a strong start. At just over 400 pages, it's going to take some time...

The week ahead//

Even though we've just gotten comfortable here, it's back on the road again this week! We'll head up to central NY to spend a few days with my parents, then down to NYC for a long weekend where we'll get a chance to see both daughters and their partners. Should be a lot of fun!

How was your week? What have you been reading lately?

Sarah P. Duke Gardens


Sunday, May 12, 2024

A Mother's Day Sunday Salon: May 12, 2024

Hello friends, and Happy Sunday from Florida! It's been pretty quiet on the island this week. Many of our friends and fellow residents travel north for the summer months, and the summer vacation crowd has yet to arrive. We went out to brunch yesterday (to beat the Mother's Day rush) and were seated right away!

We enjoyed several beautiful evenings at the beach last week. Low tides, a nice breeze, good shelling, and not too buggy - just perfect! I'm hoping for more of the same this week.

Recent Reading//

This book has been on my shelf for years, but finally moved to the immediate TBR pile ahead of our summer trip to Santa Fe. I love Cather's writing and her gorgeous prose is on full display here, especially in descriptions of the southwest landscape. Her pen is practically a paintbrush! This is a slow, meandering, episodic novel. Light on an actual plot, it still manages to convey the life stories of two French priests in the southwest desert... and the ending moved me to tears. It's not my favorite Cather novel, but it may be the most beautiful.

The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz
Celadon Books, 2021

This novel was a page-turner! It begins with Jacob Finch Bonner, a once promising young novelist, now in the midst of a writing slump and teaching at an obscure MFA program. There he encounters the most arrogant student ever... who happens to have an amazing plot idea. Several years later (and still struggling professionally) Jake realizes that that novel has never been published, learns that the student is dead, and decides to use that plot idea to write the book himself. 

There are some interesting questions raised here. Who owns an idea? Who gets to tell a story? What about cultural appropriation? I did not read the 2023 novel Yellowface by R.F. Kuang, but understand it addresses similar issues.

I've read four books by this author now and while The Latecomer  remains my favorite, this was solid 4-star read... though not quite  4.5 stars. (Do I really need quarter stars now??) I'm excited to read the sequel, entitled The Sequel, coming this fall.


Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin

I'm experimenting with a longterm nonfiction read. Instead of reaching for my computer first thing in the morning, I spend about 30 minutes with this book and my coffee - found reading time, if you will.  After a week, it's starting to feel like a habit. I've only read 90 pages so far and have over 800 to go. It's going to take a while, but Goodwin is both an excellent writer and wonderful storyteller!

I'm hoping to start another book later today, too. I have three library ebooks to sample... hopefully one will stand out. 

The week ahead//
We'll be packing, cleaning, and loading the car ahead of our drive north at the end of the week. Most of the hurricane repairs are done, except for a few small things to finish up when we get back. I probably won't be around much for the rest of the month, but will try and check in around Memorial Day.

How was your week? What are you reading?

 The Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz.

Sunday, May 5, 2024

April Reading Wrap-Up and A List of May Possibilities

April is over and now we're into the first weekend of May. The heat and humidity are inching higher as we close in on the rainy season. I'm trying to walk either earlier in the morning or later in the evening. 

April turned out to be a good month for reading - another month with extra time at home with (or waiting for!) contractors. I read four novels, including one classic, plus a short story collection.


classic novel, ⭐⭐⭐

James by Percival Everett 
literary fiction, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

short story collection, ⭐⭐⭐💫

Girls and Their Horses by Eliza Jane Brazier
mystery/thriller, ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Absolution by Alice McDermott
literary fiction, ⭐⭐⭐⭐💫


classic novel, currently reading

Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin
nonfiction/history, long-term summer read

There There by Tommy Orange

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles (reread)

The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz

Also in May//
Our time in Florida is winding down. The contractor has another week and a half to finish up.... we'll see what happens. Reservations have been made for the drive north. We'll see friends in Beaufort, SC and my cousin in Chapel Hill, and arrive in CT ahead of the Memorial Day weekend.

My May reading list is optimistic, to say the least. I don't read much while we're traveling and my focus is usually elsewhere as we pack and prepare for the trip, but it never hurts to have a plan!

What was your favorite April book? Do you have any special plans for May? 


Sunday, April 28, 2024

The Sunday Salon: April 28, 2024

Hello, friends. It's another sunny, warm, and breezy day in southwest FL and I can't believe we're heading into May this week... wasn't January just a few weeks ago?? Yesterday I celebrated Independent Bookstore Day with a trip to our local indie. They are still in the midst of hurricane repairs and stock is limited, but I bought The Mango Tree: A Memoir of Fruit, Florida, and Felony  by Annabelle Tometich, a local author and former food writer/restaurant critic for the local newspaper. I'm happy to support both local businesses and authors!

Finished last week//

Absolution by Alice McDermott

This is the third novel for my Vietnam project and my first by Alice McDermott. It was also another buddy ready with Tina! Inspired by Graham Greene's  The Quiet American  and set in the early 1960s, it focuses on American wives in Vietnam and their pursuit to do good and relieve suffering. Tricia, a shy, young, newlywed, is befriended by Charlene, a more experienced wife and mother of three. She is swept up by Charlene and her efforts to relieve local wretchedness. I especially loved the structure of this novel. Sixty years later Charlene's daughter, a child in Vietnam, reaches out to now 80-something Tricia. They both look back on their time in Saigon and reflect on how that pursuit of 'inconsequential good' effected the course of their lives. Was it actually more selfish than selfless?

McDermott also touches on a 60s version of feminism, family, faith, activism, war, and more.There is a lot going on in this book with plenty to reflect upon and discuss.  I'll certainly be reading more by Alice McDermott!

Set aside//

The Husbands by Holly Gramazio

This is the June MMD book club selection and my library hold came in much earlier than expected. If I don't read it now, I might not get another chance before discussion time. So I read the first 60 pages yesterday. Maybe it's a case of bad timing - Alice McDermott is a tough act to follow - but this book just seems silly... 

I'm not sure what I'll pick up next.

The week ahead//

I can't wrap my head around Wednesday being first of May! There has been a flurry of activity to get our post-hurricane repairs finished, and it's starting to look like we may just make it. I still expect some smaller punch list items may linger until next season.

This week I'm looking forward to MMD's live author chat with Ada Calhoun (Also A Poet and Wedding Toasts I'll Never Give), having friends over for dinner, and finalizing plans for our drive north in a few weeks.

How was your week? What have you been reading?

The Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz.


Sunday, April 21, 2024

The Sunday Salon: Shells Galore!

Hello, friends, it's another sunny Sunday in southwest Florida! The entire week has been sunny and breezy with rising (now tropical) humidity... perfect pre-rainy season weather. The steady winds have brought in great masses of shells up and down the island, and I've heard about several coveted junonia finds. My search began in the 90s...

Here is a sample of what I picked up from a single shell mound (left to right): 
fighting conch
paper fig
lightning whelk
banded tulip

It's been a pretty good week on the reading front, too. I finished two books and started another.  Also, that bathroom vanity I mentioned last week got delivered... now we wait for the installer. 

Recent Reading//

This slim short story collection by New Yorker writer Lore Segal focuses on a  a group of elderly women in NYC who have been lunching together for forty years.The stories deal with aging, loss, etc., are tightly written, and bittersweet. As a whole, the collection has a melancholy feel to it. I'm glad I read it, but don't especially recommend it.

Girls and Their Horses by Eliza Jane Brazier

I didn't expect to enjoy this, the May MMD book club selection, as much as I did. Mysteries and thrillers are not my usual genre, but this turned out to be a welcome change of pace following James.  I loved horses when I was a girl, and the time I spent in this soap opera-ish equestrian world of the ultra-wealthy was a lot of fun! Reminiscent of a Lucy Foley novel, the reader doesn't even know who has been murdered until close to the end of the story. This is not great literature by any means and the writing felt like it was geared toward a YA audience at times, but I really enjoyed my time with this book.

Current reading//

Absolution by Alice McDermott

I started another book for my Vietnam project on Friday and am happy to be reading with Tina again.

The week ahead//
It's getting close to that time when we start thinking about all the things we still want to do before heading north. With our daughter's wedding coming up in September and two other family weddings before that, we're cutting the Florida season short again. I hope I can check at least a few items off that list in the upcoming week!

That's it for me, how was your week? What have you been reading?

The Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz.



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