Sunday, November 30, 2014

Weekly Update: 11/30/14

The last ten days have been a whirlwind of family, fun, and festivities. It all started in Philadelphia last weekend when the entire family gathered to cheer on Daughter #1 as she ran the Philly half marathon. We returned to central New York ready to begin shopping, cooking, and baking Thursday's  Thanksgiving dinner. Everyone managed to arrive Tuesday evening ahead of the big nor'easter. Out table was set for eighteen this year.

Friday was a low key recovery day of reading, football, and the annual leftovers feast - no Black Friday shopping for this crowd. Saturday we cut down our Christmas tree, enjoyed turkey nachos for lunch, and attended our extended family's holiday party. It's so much fun spending time with my cousins and the Yankee Auction/Gift Swap is truly a highlight of the year.

This morning we took Daughter #1 to the train station and ran a few errands. My brother will join us for dinner tonight. I'm trying a new turkey pot pie recipe... fingers crossed.

Books completed//
Believe it or not, I finished two books on Friday:


The Hotel by Elizabeth Bowen - a little too slow for my taste, but very well-written


Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen by Laurie Colwin - a delightful collection of essays and perfect reading for Thanksgiving week


The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters (audiobook)
A little too long, but Juliet Stevenson's narration is excellent

Current reading//


Christmas at High Rising by Angela Thirkell 
...to get me into the holiday spirit.

Current listening//


Finding Florida by T.D. Allman
Thought I should read a little history before spending much of the winter in the Sunshine State.

On the blog//


I was a guest on Stuck in a Book's fifth My Life in Books series last week - find the post here.

Before my break I posted three reviews:
Belzhar  by Meg Wolitzer
Dollbaby  by Laura Lane McNeal
The End of Your Life Book Club  by Will Schwalbe

And a question//
I am not normally a Christmas-themed reader, but am enjoying Christmas at High Rising very much. I'm even considering a reread of A Christmas Carol  in December. Do you have a favorite Christmas book to recommend?

This post will link to It's Monday, What Are You Reading? hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.


46 comments:

  1. That's a great week you had - so much fun with family, so much good food, and then a good lot of reading! I'm curious about The Hotel, but if I get to it, I'll have to remember to lower my expectations a bit, because I like to have some fast pacing in my books. Have a great week!

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    1. Athira - The Hotel is my second Bowen novel and I think slow may be her style. Lovely novels, but slow reading and very little action.

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  2. Sounds like you had a wonderful week! I'm sure you were very happy that everyone was able to beat that storm. We had a low-key Thanksgiving Day, which was fine with me since I had to work on Black Friday. Yesterday was our fun day with a visit from my daughter and her boyfriend. They were in Boulder for Thanksgiving and decided to take a detour on their way back to TX. Such a wonderful evening, especially since the weather was so great (74 for a high yesterday!). Unfortunately, the cold has returned. It was 13 this morning and tonight's low will be in the single digits. :(

    I'm glad you enjoyed Laurie Colwin's collection of essays. It's on my list for re-reads.

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    1. Les - It was definitely a memorable week! So glad your daughter was able to Saturday and the weather sounds perfect. 74 is a distant memory for us...our Thanksgiving looked more like a very beautiful white Christmas.

      I'd like to read Colwin's other essay collection eventually.

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  3. Your holiday sounds lovely, and I applaud your no-Black-Friday spirit. {Though I confess I did take advantage of the Black Friday special at the dry cleaners. :) }I was just thinking that I need to read Christmas at High Rising at Christmastime, since I missed doing so last year! There are Christmas scenes in Emma, that's the only one I can think of.

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    1. Audrey - Does the dry cleaners count as official Black Friday shopping? I'll give you a pass for that one ;-) Christmas at High Rising is wonderful. Hope you get a chance to pull it out this year!

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  4. Your weekend sounds lovely! Tell me about the Yankee Auction/Gift Swap - is that an exchange among the cousins?

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    1. Lisa - Our Yankee Swap is so much fun! Everyone brings a wrapped gift and places it under the tree. Once we figure out how many people/gifts there are, everyone draws a number. Number one opens a gift. Number two can then either "steal" #1's gift or open a new one. If #1's gift is taken, they open a new gift. #3 can steal #1 or #2's gift or open a new one. We put a 3 hand limit on gifts... once it reaches the 3rd set of hand it "sticks" and can't be traded again. We also give #1 the option to pick any gift at the end. So, the higher your # , the better...except for 1.

      more here:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_elephant_gift_exchange

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  5. Sounds like an exciting week JoAnn. I love the Yankee Swaps - we always did them at various work parties -- such fun.

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    1. Diane - It gets VERY loud during the swap... always a great time!

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  6. It sounds like a lovely time! I boycott Black Friday myself - and not just because I can't stand the crowds. I love Christmas stories, and I usually make a little list to read in December. Of course there's Little Women, which opens on Christmas. Connie Willis has a volumes of short stories, "Miracle and Other Christmas Stories." If you don't mind jumping into a mystery series late, or reading about murder at Christmas, Margaret Maron has two, the second set a year later than the first, "Rituals of the Season" and "Christmas Mourning." I also like to re-read the Christmas scenes in the Little House books. And Nancy Mitford's "Christmas Pudding" is very funny. I'll stop now :)

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    1. Lisa - Hmm, a Christmas murder might be fun. Thanks for all the great suggestions!

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  7. It sounds like you had a wonderful holiday!

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    1. Kathy - We did! Hope you had a great holiday weekend, too!

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  8. I'm glad you had such a lovely Thanksgiving weekend! I hope to also read Christmas at High Rising this next month. Have you seen the new Penguin Christmas Classics? I bought the Anthony Trollope and the Louisa May Alcott. They are beautiful collections of Christmas stories and I look forward to reading them soon. You might enjoy them. I think there are five in all.

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    1. Anbolyn - I had not seen the Penguin Christmas Classics, but now I want all of them!

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  9. So glad your family made it before the storm hit and that you had a wonderful celebration. Yankee Swaps are so much fun, we haven't done it in awhile, hmmm, maybe this year?!

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    1. Nise' - The Yankee Swaps have become a tradition with my cousins. We have so much fun and I love spending time with them... some I only get to see once a year.

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  10. Sounds like you had a lovely Thanksgiving! I'm with you on not joining in on the Black Friday madness. We ended going out Friday night and it was fun but I'm not in the 4AM crowd! Sorry to hear that The Hotel was a little too slow and that Paying Guests was a little too long. I am happy to hear you enjoyed the narration for that one though. I've been thinking about listening to it. Have a great week!

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    1. Katherine - My oldest daughter occasionally does the 4AM thing with her friends, but I will never be part of that! From the news reports I've seen, Black Friday may have been a bust this year.

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  11. Looks like you had a great holiday weekend. 18- that's a good sized crowd. :) We had some snow but not too bad, can't complain actually. The Hotel looks good, too bad it was slow, and Finding Florida looks interesting too.

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    1. Greg - The interesting thing about Finding Florida is that he says the history Florida school children are taught is basically all fiction!

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  12. I do like your mix of reads. A Thirkell a Bowen with modern writers. Nice.

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    1. Mystica - At this point I'm much more fond of Thirkell!

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  13. I've also been thinking about reading A Christmas Carol (although it always feels a little strange reading wintery stories about Christmas in our summer!)

    Maybe you should host a real-a-long to get us all motivated :-)

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    1. Brona - Will give that some thought!

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  14. I was intrigued that you said you finished two books on Friday. Does that mean you often read more than one at once?

    Deb

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    1. Deb - I normally read one book and listen to another, but things got out of hand last week... it helped that one was fiction and the other nonfiction.

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  15. Sounds like a great holiday! Yes, as Brona Joy said--host a read-a-long of A Christmas Carol! My kids perform in a stage version the weekend before Christmas, so it's on my mind anyway this time of her anyway. :)

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  16. I love Colwin -- I really should reread her. How wonderful that you were able to spend the holiday with so many friends and family.

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    1. Beth F - I love spending time with the extended family around the holidays.. and definitely want to read more Colwin!

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  17. I love the cover for The Hotel but not sure it's for me. I really want to read Sarah Waters but it is getting mixed reviews so I keep putting it off. Emma

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    1. Emma - I think Fingersmith would be an excellent starting point for Waters.

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  18. Sounds like you had a wonderful time! (And a huge turkey!). I don't select Christmas books usually. I hope you continue to enjoy yours.

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    1. Pat - We had a 25 lb turkey and finished the last of the leftovers Sunday! Christmas books are not usually a draw for me... not sure why I'm feeling the pull this year.

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  19. Your holiday sounds wonderful! I am all in favor of quiet Post-Thanksgiving events...and lots of reading.

    As you know, I hope to read The Paying Guests this week...and I love the look of Home Cooking; I've enjoyed novels by this author.

    I also enjoyed Belzhar and Dollbaby a while ago. Thanks for sharing...and for visiting my blog.

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    1. Laurel-Rain Snow - I avoid Black Friday at all costs, and it sounds like more people than ever did the same thing this year. The Paying Guests is not my favorite Waters novel, but the writing/plotting skills are very evident. I still can't get it out of my mind, so it's probably better than I initially rated it...

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  20. Sounds like a happy but busy holiday. Come see my week. Happy reading!

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    1. Kathy - It was definitely one of the best!

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  21. Love your books, all. I haven't seen Thirkell's name in quite a while. Always wanted to sit down and read all of her books.

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    1. Topazshell - Thirkell is fast becoming one of my guilty pleasures!

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  22. I've always wanted to read an Elizabeth Bowen book. I noticed the other day that she has six books on the 1001 list. That seems incredible to me. Six.

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    1. Deb Nance -I had no idea she had six books not he list!! Very impressive...

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  23. Looks like you had a fun week! I hope to lay low today, reading and writing. :)

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    1. Shiels - Hope you were able to follow through with those plans ;)

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