Wednesday, September 19, 2018

My Fall Reading List

Since I had pretty good luck with my summer reading list this year, I decided to go ahead and make one for fall. My reading will be geared toward three event or projects: RIP, Nonfiction November, and our Palliser Party. For the sake of this list, let's say fall lasts until Christmas Eve.

Books I Want to Read This Fall

The Friend by Sigrid Nunez
National Book Award Longlist, on my shelf, current read

by Debby Irving 
Nonfiction, current audiobook

The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe
RIP, read-along, Classics Club

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
reread, RIP, read-along, Classics Club

The Duke's Children by Anthony Trollope
Palliser Party, read-along, Classics Club

Nonfiction November

by Kate Moore
Nonfiction November

by Robin DiAngelo
Nonfiction November 

Nonfiction November

Have you read any of these books? Will you make a fall reading list?

Monday, September 17, 2018

Book Club Read: Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann

by David Grann
Vintage paperback, 2018
321 pages

narrated by Will Patton, Ann Marie Lee, Danny Campbell
Random House Audio, 2017
9 hours and 4 minutes
(downloaded from the library via Overdrive)

It's been over a month and I still  haven't written anything about this book. Why am I having such a hard time? Basically...

  • the book was full of fascinating information
  • I was exposed to a particularly unsavory period of history
  • I learned a lot, but have very little to say

I liked//
- The structure... told in three sections and from three points-of-view: a member of the Osage tribe, a law-enforcement official, and a journalist
- The feeling of history unfolding as I read/listened

I didn't care for//
- The audio version... though the structure lends itself to multiple narrators, none seemed quite right. The middle section was downright annoying at times.
- There was not a lot to discuss, so probably not an ideal book club selection. Our conversation never moved much beyond "I never knew anything about this" or "here's what I found particularly interesting..."

Book club reaction//
Everyone finished the book (!) and appreciated learning about an unknown aspect of our history, but nobody loved it.

If you read it//
I recommend the print edition... plenty of photos are included.

My rating//

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Weekend Cooking: Back in the Kitchen

Weekend Cooking, hosted at Beth Fish Reads, is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page.

Although it's warm and humid today in central New York, we recently experienced a brief taste of fall. It was glorious! I've yet to indulge in the season's first pumpkin spice latte, but have been cooking again. Here are some of the new recipes we've enjoyed.

Fresh Corn Chowder from Natasha's Kitchen
We all love local corn and eat it as often as possible, especially during the late summer when the sweetest varieties are available. In this recipe, stripped cobs are simmered to make an unbelievably flavorful corn stock. In typical chowder fashion, heavy cream is used, but I think half and half or low-fat milk could be substituted to lighten it up. This is best corn chowder I've ever made!

Butternut Squash Soup from Gimme Some Oven
I've been using Susan Branch's Butternut Bisque recipe for ages (even shared it in this 2014 Weekend Cooking post) and never thought I'd try another. But Gimme Some Oven is a trusted source and I was intrigued by the addition of a Granny Smith apple and unsweetened coconut milk... also, this recipe is made in a slow cooker. So easy! I'm not setting aside the old standby, but my daughter prefers this version. I thought it very tasty, too. Guess I have two favorite recipes now.

Blueberry Crumble Pie from Two Peas & Their Pod
I've baked plenty of blueberry pies over the years, but never one with a crumble top. This photo on the blog caught my eye... mine looked almost as good. It's a keeper.

Speculoos Brownie Cake from Simply Recipes
Drop what you're doing, go to Trader Joe's, buy a jar of speculoos cookie butter, and bake this cake - immediately! You can thank me later. ;-)

Black Bean and Quinoa Enchilada Bake from Two Peas & Their Pod
Despite mild resistance, I'm trying to incorporate more vegetarian meals into our dinner lineup. I recently made this casserole while my husband was away. With a green salad, it was a delicious dinner. I had leftovers for lunch the rest of the week, though admit I was a little tired of it by Thursday. Hubby refused to try it for lunch on Friday...

  Does your kitchen get busier in the fall? Have you tried any new recipes lately?

Monday, September 10, 2018

A Monday Update: Fall is Here!

It feels like fall is here! In central New York, we woke this morning to temperatures in the 40s and it may not hit 60 - again. What a difference a week makes...

Current reading//

The Prime Minister by Anthony Trollope is nearly 700 pages long, but I've passed the halfway mark and continue to happily turn the pages. This is the fifth book in the Palliser series and I'm hoping to read the sixth (and final) book, The Duke's Children  before the end of the year. Once again, Audrey is my intrepid #PalliserParty reading companion :)

Up next//

A little RIP fun ...
Last fall Amy, James, and I discussed a possible read-along for RIP XIII. We wanted to read Ann Radcliffe's classic Gothic novel The Mysteries of Udolpho  and follow up with Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen's spoof of the Gothic novel. RIP XIII is here and we're all still interested. The plan is to begin September 24 and finish by Halloween. You're welcome to join us!

The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe
"With The Mysteries of Udolpho, Ann Radcliffe raised the Gothic romance to a new level and inspired a long line of imitators. Portraying her heroine's inner life, creating a thick atmosphere of fear, and providing a gripping plot that continues to thrill readers today, The Mysteries of Udolpho  is the story of orphan Emily St. Aubert, who finds herself separated from the man she loves and confined within the medieval castle of her aunt's new husband, Montoni. Inside the castle, she must cope with an unwanted suitor, Montoni's threats, and the wild imaginings and terrors that threaten to overwhelm her."

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
"Jane Austen's first novel, Northanger Abbey—published posthumously in 1818—tells the story of Catherine Morland and her dangerously sweet nature, innocence, and sometime self-delusion. Though Austen's fallible heroine is repeatedly drawn into scrapes while vacationing at Bath and during her subsequent visit to Northanger Abbey, Catherine eventually triumphs, blossoming into a discerning woman who learns truths about love, life, and the heady power of literature. The satirical Northanger Abbey pokes fun at the gothic novel while earnestly emphasizing caution to the female sex."

On the blog//
Rereading High School

In the kitchen//
Over the past couple of weeks I've tried two new desserts, two soups, and a vegetarian main course. All were hits, so look for a separate Weekend Cooking post on Friday or Saturday.

There's not too much planned this week... another dentist's appointment, fall decorating, and lots of outdoor chores. I'm also looking forward to my first pumpkin spice latte of the season!

 How was your week? What are you reading?

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Rereading High School

It's the first day of school here in central New York... the perfect time to share a project that's been in the back of my mind for some time. What would it be like to reread some of the books assigned to me in back high school?

The seed for this idea was planted in 2012 when I reread The Old Man and the Sea  on a whim... you can read that post here. Last year's reread of Flowers for Algernon  turned out to be a highlight of my reading year. That made me wonder, once again, about other high school books I may not have fully understood or appreciated as a teenager. And naturally, a list was made.

High School Books I'd Like to Reread

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
I reread this every decade.

Tender is the Night  by F. Scott Fitzgerald
I enjoyed it more than Gatsby back in the day. Would that still be the case? 

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
Steinbeck is a favorite. I've reread many of his books over the years, but never this one.

The Winter of Our Discontent by John Steinbeck
A favorite from high school, but would likely have more of an impact now.

For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
Not a favorite at the time...

Look Homeward, Angel by Thomas Wolfe
I have little memory of this book beyond liking it. Recent visits to Asheville, NC have made me curious.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
I actively disliked this in 10th grade. Maybe it's time to give it another try? 

1984 by George Orwell
A reread is even more urgent given today's political climate.

Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Another book I was just lukewarm on decades ago, but may appreciate more as an adult.

I've wanted to reread this for years and probably should have put it at the top of the list.

This list is a starting point. I'm not imposing any special parameters or deadlines and, since my high school years were so long ago, I can also add these titles to my Classics Club list! Have you ever revisited any of your high school reading assignments?


Sunday, September 2, 2018

Book Brief: Free Food for Millionaires by Min Jin Lee

by Min Jin Lee
Grand Central Publishing, 2007
577 pages 

narrated by Shelly Frasier
Tantor Audio, 2007
19 hours and 56 minutes 

Motivation for reading: 
I loved Pachinko and was curious about the author's earlier work.

ebook, purchased as a kindle daily deal
audio, downloaded from the library via hoopla

Publisher's summary:

Free Food for Millionaires, the debut novel from Min Jin Lee, takes on daunting themes of love, money, race, and belief systems in this mostly satisfying tale. Casey Han is a Princeton grad, class of '93, and it is her conflicts, relationships, and temperament that inform the novel. She is the child of immigrant Korean parents who work in the same laundry in Queens where they have always worked and are trying hard to hang on to their culture. Casey has catapulted out of that life on scholarships but now that college is over, she hasn't the same opportunities as her white friends, even though she has acquired all of their expensive habits.

The concept of free food for millionaires is the perfect irony that describes much of what Casey faces. Walter, one of her bosses, says, when a huge buffet lunch is delivered to the floor: "It's free food for millionaires... In the International Equities Department--that is, Asia, Europe, and Japan Sales--the group you're interviewing for--whichever desk that sells a deal buys lunch for everyone in the department."

Opening paragraph:
Competence can be a curse.
As a capable young woman, Casey Hahn felt compelled to choose respectability and success. But it was glamour and insight that she craved. A Korean immigrant who'd grown up in a dim, blue-collar neighborhood in Queens, she'd hoped for a bright, glittering life beyond the workhorse struggles of her parents, who managed a Manhattan dry cleaner. 

My thoughts:

Free Food for Millionaires  is a big, exciting novel about... well, almost everything! Money and power, race and culture, love and sex, class, education, privilege, identity, and even fashion. It focuses on a Korean-American community in New York City in the 1990s, and I simply couldn't put it down.

This book is so good, yet so different from Lee's more recent novel, Pachinko (my thoughts) and, in the words of my 80-something mother, a lot "racier" too. Set in 1990s NYC, this fast-paced novel with multiple characters and plot lines will keep you turning its nearly 600 pages.

The audiobook, narrated by Shelly Frasier, was very well done. I enjoyed switching back and forth between print and audio... listening on my morning walks and reading in the evenings. That has become my preferred reading method these days.

An interesting aside, this novel was edited by Bill Clegg, author of Did You Ever Have a Family - a personal favorite from 2015.

My rating:


Saturday, September 1, 2018

August was...

August is over... it passed so quickly.
Birthday celebrations... my nephew is 20!
Cedar plank salmon, our favorite new recipe
Dinners at the Brewster Inn, a local favorite
Evenings by the lake
Free Food for Millionaires  was my favorite book this month
Gearing up more more Trollope... I'll begin The Prime Minister this weekend!
Hilderbrand novels are a summer tradition... this month I read The Perfect Couple
Ice cream made with New York maple syrup
John McCain... America mourns the loss of a true patriot
Killers of the Flower Moon  was our book club selection
Lake Placid family weekend :)
Msummer reading list... I actually read 5 of 8 titles!
New York State Fair, better than ever this year
Orange leaves began appearing in mid-August
Politics... we hosted our first ever political fundraiser
Water Quality issues continue to plague SWFL...
Red tide and toxic algae (from Lake O discharges) are behind this environmental disaster.
Saratoga Springs overnight getaway
Tin Man  by Sarah Winman (my book brief)
The Mysteries of Udolpho  by Ann Radcliffe is my RIP pick for fall
Vegetarian Lentil Chili was another new recipe success
Weather forecasters say this has been the most humid summer on record!
eXcitement is building for our next travel adventure...
this Year I will finally see the Grand Canyon!
Z ... this letter is so much harder without Zelda :(



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