Monday, December 17, 2018

A Monday Update: December 17, 2018

We're midway through December and holiday preparations are in high gear... the shopping is mostly done (though I'd better get busy wrapping!) and I spent several afternoons baking with my mother. Last weekend we visited out NYC daughters, took in The Nutcracker at Lincoln Center, ate at my favorite restaurant, visited the American Museum of Natural History, and, of course, spent time in the bookstores.

This past weekend was pretty low-key. My annual winter cold arrived early and I spent most of yesterday on the couch.

Current reading//

The Duke's Children by Anthony Trollope

The sixth and final Palliser novel is so good! I'm reading with Audrey and, again, we seem to be strangely in sync with our progress. If I'm not feeling better, I may spend another day reading and possibly even finish...

Book club//

My book club's annual holiday luncheon was last week... delicious food, a chance to catch up, and an excellent discussion. We talked about Born a Crime by Trevor Noah and decided to stay in South Africa for another month with The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay. I won't be around in January, but it sounds very good. Have you read it?

On the blog//

For the first time in years, I've signed up for a challenge!

In the kitchen//

At this time of year, quick and easy dinners are a must. After an afternoon of baking Christmas cookies with my mother, the last think I want to do is cook. Last week I made Four-Spice Salmon from the New York Times, Lemony Lentil Soup from Gimme Some Oven, and an incredibly easy Sweet and Sour Chicken in the slow cooker from The Kitchn. Notes on the chicken: I left it in the crockpot longer than recommended and I might add some pineapple chunks next time.

The week ahead//

So much to do... I really need to get over this cold! Our daughters are coming home on Friday and, hopefully, my SIL will also be visiting. We'll have dinner for twelve on Christmas Eve and our traditional brunch with the girls on Christmas Day. Later, we all go to my sister's for a "Yankee Swap" and dinner.

I'll be back here after Christmas with my list of favorites, 2018 wrap-up, and plans for 2019.

How was your week? What are you reading?

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Back to the Classics Challenge 2019

While reviewing my reading list and statistics for 2018, I was struck by its haphazardness and began to wonder whether I'd carried the whole free-range reading idea a little too far. In addition, my classics reading is dramatically lower. I'll have more to say in my year-end posts, but for now it's clear that more structure is needed in 2019.

To that end, I have decided to take part in Back to the Classics Challenge 2019 hosted by Karen at Books and Chocolate.  It's been years since I've participated in any reading challenge, but this sounds like a good one.

Karen says:
I hope to encourage readers and bloggers to tackle all the classic books we've never gotten around to reading. And at the end, one lucky winner will receive a $30 (US) gift of books from or The Book Depository! The rules and the prize are the same as last year, but I think I've come up with some fun new categories. 
If you're new to the challenge, here's how it works:
Complete six categories, and you'll get one entry in the drawing;
Complete nine categories, and you'll get two entries in the drawing;
Complete all twelve categories, and you'll get three entries in the drawing.
Here are the twelve categories and the book I've selected for each. My choices will probably change as the year progresses, but I understand that's allowed ;-)

The Categories:

1. 19th Century Classic: Rachel Ray  by Anthony Trollope

2. 20th Century Classic: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest  by Ken Kesey

3. Classic by a Female Author: Delta Wedding  by Eudora Welty

4. Classic in Translation: Grand Hotel  by Vicki Baum

5. Classic Comedy: Cold Comfort Farm  by Stella Gibbons

6. Classic Tragedy: The Return of the Native  by Thomas Hardy

7. Very Long Classic: Wives and Daughters  by Elizabeth Gaskell

8. Classic Novella: The Bunner Sisters  by Edith Wharton

9. Classic From the Americas (includes the Caribbean): The Grapes of Wrath  by John Steinbeck

10. Classic From Africa, Asia, or Oceania (includes Australia): Some Prefer Nettles  by  Junichiro Tanizaki

11. Classic From a Place You've Lived: The Beautiful and the Damned  by F. Scott Fitzgerald

12. Classic Play: Our Town  by Thornton Wilder

This challenge will help me make some much-needed progress with my second Classics Club list, too. Wish me luck!  Have you considered this challenge?

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

A Midweek Update: December 5, 2018

And now it's December.

November was a blur... the first half in Florida, then back to New York for Thanksgiving. We'll stay here through Christmas, enjoying time with family, buried in snow.

Thanksgiving was the best. We hosted dinner for twenty, then twenty-two for "leftovers" on Friday. The annual Family Christmas Party, complete with Yankee Swap, was at my cousin's on Saturday, and more holiday activities on Sunday. The girls returned to Manhattan Monday... I needed two days to recover!

As for the books, Nonfiction November is history (my summary is here) and our #PalliserParty is back... the grand finale is now underway.

Finished this week//

by Clemantine Wamariya

This is the first book I've read about the Rwandan genocide. When the author was six years old, she and her older sister were separated from their family and spent the next six years as refugees in various African countries. They were then granted refugee status in the U.S., where Clemantine eventually went on to get a degree from Yale. An intense read, but I found the shifts between her time as a refugee and her experiences in the Unites States jarring. A chronological timeline would have been preferable.

by Elinor Lipman, narrated by the author

I've been a fan of Elinor Lipman's novels for some time, but didn't know she'd published an essay collection until Penny mentioned it on goodreads. The book is divided into four sections: Meet the Family, On Writing, Coupling Columns, and Since Then. Topics range from the light-hearted to more serious subjects... from golf and All My Children (remember that soap opera?) to widowhood and caring for aging parents. I loved the audio version - it's short, under four hours,  and she reads it herself!

Current reading//

The Duke's Children by Anthony Trollope

"The truth is he's a nasty, brawling, boasting, ill-conditioned little reptile."

As always, it's a delight to return to Trollope's world. And what could be better than sharing the experience with a like-minded reader? Audrey and I, in an effort to finish the series by the end of the year, have started reading the sixth and final novel. Our #PalliserParty is nearly over.

Like the other books in the series, this is a read/listen combination for me. I have purchased a copy of the newly-restored (and nearly a third longer) edition, but my frustration is mounting as there is no corresponding audio version. I love listening, but hate to miss anything.

Up next//

Winter in Paradise by Elin Hilderbrand

My library hold is here at last. It's become my tradition to read one of Hilderbrand's winter books around the holidays. This is the first in a new series, and her first novel set outside of Nantucket - it takes place in St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands. I can't wait to get started!

On the blog//

Nonfiction November Week #5: It's a Wrap

It's time to start thinking about year-end posts... my list of favorites, a new project (I miss Trollope already!) and goals for 2019. I really need a reprise of the TBR Triple Dog Dare... I seem to be losing ground in that department. What do you say James?

That's it for me today....  what's new with you? What have you been reading?

Friday, November 30, 2018

Nonfiction November Week #5: It's a Wrap

Nonfiction November is wrapping up this week with a look at books added to our reading lists.
Week 5: (Nov. 26 to 30) – New to My TBR (hosted by Katie @ Doing Dewey): It’s been a month full of amazing nonfiction books! Which ones have made it onto your TBR? Be sure to link back to the original blogger who posted about that book.

Let's begin with Nonfiction titles I've read this month... all were recommended by fellow bloggers and/or Nonfiction November participants:

Recommended by Angela at Musings of a Literary Wanderer, this was a 5-star read and a nonfiction favorite this year. My brief revere is here.

by Trevor Noah, narrated by the author
Plenty of bloggers list this among their nonfiction favorites. It's been in my audible library for quite some time and is my book club's December selection. I can't wait for the discussion... it should be a good one.

by Kelly Corrigan, narrated by the author
This book was mentioned by so many  bloggers in their "My Year in Nonfiction" posts, including Susie at Novel Visits, Sarah at Sarah's Book Shelves, and Melissa Firman among others. It was a very good audio, but keep the tissues handy.

Lift by Kelly Corrigan, narrated by the author
This short book (under two hours on audio) was recommended by my friend Les at Coastal Horizons. I listened to it immediately after finishing Tell Me More. That may have reduced its impact, but Lift was still a worthwhile listening experience.

by Elinor Lipman, narrated by the author
I've been a fan of Lipman's fiction for years, but never knew she wrote nonfiction until Penny at Literary Hoarders mentioned this title. I immediately downloaded it from my library via hoopla... loved every essay!

by Clemantine Wamariya and Elizabeth Weil
Clemantime Wamariya was just six years old when she, along with her fifteen-year-old sister, fled their Rwandan village, spent another six years in refugee camps and wandering around Africa, before finally landing in the United States. This book tells her story. I learned about it earlier this month fromTara at Running 'n Reading and Sarah at Sarah's Book Shelves.

Some Additions to my TBR list:

The Line Becomes A River: Dispatches from the Border by Francisco CantĂș
(recommended by Tara at Running 'n Reading)

Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
 (Robin at A Fondness For Reading)

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou
(Katie at Doing Dewey)

Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America by Beth Macy (Sarah at Sarah's Book Shelves)

The Art of Frugal Hedonism: A Guide to Spending Less While Enjoying Everything More by Annie Raser-Rowland,  Adam Grubb (Louise at A Strong Belief in Wicker)

God Save Texas: A Journey Into the Soul of the Lone Star State by Lawrence Wright
(What's Nonfiction?)

My Nonfiction November Posts:

Nonfiction November Week #1: My Year in Nonfiction
Nonfiction November Week #3: Reading About Race

And finally, thank you to our hosts:

Katie at Doing Dewey
Sarah at Sarah’s Book Shelves
Julz at JulzReads
Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness
Rennie at What’s Nonfiction

I appreciate your time and effort... this is my favorite blogging event of the year!

Monday, November 19, 2018

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? - November 19, 2018

It's Monday and we're back in snowy central New York. The view from my window is a painful contrast to last week's beach walks, but I'm really happy to see my parents and siblings. We'll stay up here through the holidays.

Finished this week//

by Trevor Noah, narrated by the author
I finished listening to this book on the plane Friday night. It seems like everyone has read it, so  I don't plan to write a review. This is the December selection for my book club and I'm sure we'll have a great discussion... it really is as good as everyone says :)

Current reading//

by Kelly Corrigan, narrated by the author
This was recommended by several bloggers during week 1 of Nonfiction November... and I'm loving it, too!

by Laura Shapiro
Purchased on the recommendation of a book club friend, this book has been on my shelf for at least a couple of years. I love books about food almost as much as books about books... this one is very entertaining so far.

On the blog//

Nonfiction November, Week 3: Reading About Race

In the kitchen//
I'm gearing up for Thanksgiving. We will, as usual, host dinner for my family. The crowd will be slightly smaller this year... under 20.

The week ahead//
I'm making my final grocery lists this morning, then we'll battle the early holiday crowd at Wegmans. Thanksgiving set-up and serious cooking begin tomorrow. Our Manhattan daughters arrive tomorrow evening. So many activities planned between now and Sunday.... no wonder it's my favorite week of the year!

How was your week? What are you reading?

It's Monday, What Are You Reading?  is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Nonfiction November, Week 3: Reading About Race

As Nonfiction November moves into week 4, I'm playing catch up with week 3's prompt:
Be The Expert/Ask the Expert/Become the Expert - hosted by Julie @ JulzReads: Three ways to join in this week! You can either share three or more books on a single topic that you have read and can recommend (be the expert), you can put the call out for good nonfiction on a specific topic that you have been dying to read (ask the expert), or you can create your own list of books on a topic that you’d like to read (become the expert).

Reading About Race

Though it's been a couple of years, I must begin this post with Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. The book has had a profound impact on the way I think about race and the racial issues facing our country today.

 I read a few more books about race this year:

In this book, the author speaks very candidly about her awakening to race, racial issues, and her previous pattern of avoidance. She comes to realize that white IS, in fact, a race. This was a fascinating book... I've never read anything quite like it. It sent me in search of hard information... something more scientific and less subjective.

by Robin DiAngelo
This turned out to be just what I was looking for... not as personal, backed up by research. It also includes plenty of resources and suggestions for further reading. But before tackling those lists,  I returned to memoir...

This is my book club's December selection... and fits in nicely with my theme. Noah talks about his childhood in South Africa during and after apartheid. This extended my "race in the US" scope, but kept me reading on topic.

Books I'd Like to Read

by Shannon Sullivan

by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Can you recommend other books for my list?

Previous Be the Expert/Ask the Expert  posts:
2017 - Books About Books 
2016 - Supreme Reading (The Supreme Court)
2015 - Nonfiction Foodie Favorites

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Sanibel Sunday: November 11, 2018

Hello from sunny Florida! November is off to a busier-than-anticipated start and, as a result, I took an unintended blogging break. Our daughter visited for a few days last weekend. We made arrangements with a painting contractor to get work done while we're back up north for the holidays. I also started shopping for living room furniture - no decisions yet. We hosted a neighborhood gathering... the air conditioning needed repairing (again!) ... and the election... and all the news...

I signed up to vote by mail, but grew increasingly nervous as my mailbox remained empty. On the last day of early voting, I decided to just go to the polls. By that time, even if my ballot arrived I doubted it would be delivered to election headquarters in time. There were at least  100 people ahead of me in line at the polls... a sharp contrast to early voting in the 2016 presidential election when there was no line at all! I was questioned about my vote-by-mail request, but allowed to vote since my ballot had not been submitted. (The ballot never did show up.)

Now, as you know, the recounts begin...

Recent reading//

by Robin DiAngelo, narrated by Amy Landon

I've been exploring race in nonfiction lately and this is my latest book on that topic. The goodreads summary explains it much better than I can:
Referring to the defensive moves that white people make when challenged racially, white fragility is characterized by emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt and by behaviors including argumentation and silence. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium and prevent any meaningful cross-racial dialogue. In this in-depth exploration, anti-racist educator Robin DiAngelo examines how white fragility develops, how it protects racial inequality, and what can be done to engage more constructively.
I'll just say this is an important and thought-provoking read which I highly recommended.

I finished this book last night and can't recommend it highly enough. It has everything I love in nonfiction - science and medicine, a legal battle, human drama, and good writing, too.

In the 1920s and 30s young women worked in factories where they painted watches, clocks, and military dials with a new luminous substance made from radium. Part of the process involved placing the brushes in their mouths to create a finer point. As time passed, they began to suffer crippling, painful illnesses, which baffled physicians for years before eventually being identified as radium poisoning. As their employers falsely denied prior knowledge of the danger involved and refused to take responsibility, the "radium girls" began a fight for justice. Their victory was instrumental in the establishment of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA.

This book, unexpectedly, turned out to be quite a page-turner.  Toward the end it even brought tears to my eyes. I borrowed the audio version narrated by Angela Brazil from the library, but ended up reading most of the book in print. Read or listen, but don't miss it!

Current listening//

by Trevor Noah, narrated by the author
I started listening to this one on my walk this morning. It's received rave reviews from many of my blogging friends and I can already understand why.

Up next//

I plan to start a print book later this evening. It will be more nonfiction...likely one already on my kindle.

The week ahead//

Tomorrow is my husband's birthday, so we have a special day planned. Later in the week we'll finalize arrangements to sell a car... never an enjoyable task. On Friday we fly back to upstate NY for the holidays. I just checked the weather forecast... snow nearly every day this week. Sigh.

I'm hoping to write this week's Nonfiction November post before we leave. Fingers crossed.

How was your week? What are you reading?

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Nonfiction November Week #1: My Year in Nonfiction

Nonfiction November is here! This annual event, an entire month of bookish topics devoted entirely to nonfiction, is always a favorite. Our hosts this year are:

Katie at Doing Dewey
Sarah at Sarah’s Book Shelves
Julz at JulzReads
Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness
Rennie at What’s Nonfiction


So far, 2018 has not been a stellar reading year. Instead, it's been a year of adjustment (to a retired lifestyle) and distractions (mostly political). While my overall numbers are down, the proportion of nonfiction has held steady at 35%.

How I consume nonfiction//
I read nonfiction, of course, but I also love listening. Having both the audiobook and a print copy is ideal. That way, I never miss out on photographs, maps, charts, etc. With a read/listen combination, I usually listen on my morning walk, while doing chores or while driving. Then I'll read outside in the late afternoon or at home in the evening.

What I'm reading about this year//

I've read on a wide variety of subjects, most notably...





Notably missing this year are medicine/health, food, and The Supreme Court... though I guess just following all the news related to the Court is enough right now.


by Nina Willner, narrated by Cassandra Campbell

Runners up

by Kory Stamper, narrated by the author

by Debby Irving, narrated by the author

My goal for Nonfiction November is simple. I want to hear about all the great nonfiction titles you have been reading this year...and then read several of them before Nonfiction November 2019. My best recommendations always come from book bloggers!

For links to other "My Year in Nonfiction" posts, visit Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Sanibel Sunday: We're Back!

Hello from sunny Sanibel, FL! It's been a long week, but we're back... and earlier than usual, too. The first cold front of the season came through last night. Our air conditioning is off, the windows are open, and I had a glorious walk on the beach this morning. I collected a few sand dollars, a banded tulip, and several paper figs.

Finished this week//

by Kory Stamper, narrated by the author

An entire book about dictionaries? Yes, and I loved it. I borrowed both the ebook and audiobook from the library, but the author's narration was so good, I ended up just listening. Look for a Book Brief soon.


by Robin DiAngelo, narrated by Amy Landon

I've listened to nearly half of this book. To say it's giving me a lot to think about is an understatement. It seems especially timely as we approach the midterm elections.

Up next//

Nonfiction November starts this week and I have quite a few titles under consideration, but I'll probably begin with...

by Kate Moore 

The main question is whether to read or to listen... or maybe both. Will you be participating in Nonfiction November?

How was your week? What have you been reading?

Monday, October 22, 2018

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? - October 22, 2018

It's Monday, and we're headed south. Not a moment too soon as far as I'm concerned... it snowed yesterday! We'll get the house open and ready for winter, line up help for the next home improvement project, and replenish our Vitamin D levels on the beach! We'll return to central New York before Thanksgiving.

This week I'm reading//

Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart
I pulled it off the shelf a few nights ago and read the first fifty pages... seems perfect for the Halloween season.

And listening to//

by Kory Stamper, narrated by the author
This is such an entertaining audio... who would have guessed? I'm around the 80% mark now and in no hurry for this book to end.

Up next//

I'm not sure... but it will be nonfiction because Nonfiction November begins next week. Hooray!

On the blog//

Book Brief: Dear Bob and Sue  by Matt Smith and Karen Smith
Pages From the Past: My 2006 Reading Journal

The week ahead//

We're on the road for several days. It's a 24 hour drive and we've found eight hours per day to be the upper limit of comfortable. That means at least three days in the car... and usually an extra day or two at one of our stopping points. There's always something new to explore!

How was your week?  What are you reading?


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