Sunday, February 24, 2019

Sanibel Sunday: February 24, 2019


Hello from sunny, warm Sanibel. Although February is nearly over, this is my first update post all month. The weeks are flying! We enjoyed our oldest daughter's visit at the beginning of the month, spent a couple of days with friends vacationing in the area, and had a wonderful time with my sister and brother-in-law this past week. Now we're alone for ten days, but eagerly awaiting Twin A's arrival.

Blogging may have fallen by the wayside, but I did manage to read a few books.


Recent reading//



by Jane Ziegelman
 After Lisa mentioned this book on twitter, I borrowed both the ebook and audiobook from the library. They both happened to be available and I was between books... perfect timing. In addition, my book club read 97 Orchard   a few years ago, so I was familiar with Ziegelman's style. She presents a lot of interesting information here, but I became bored around the 40% mark and ended up skimming the second half. Unless you have a particular fascination with depression-era food, I'd say it's safe to skip this one.
My rating:




The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai

This is the "it" book I never got around to reading last year. My daughter brought her hardcover copy when she visited and I used an audible credit to purchase the audio version narrated by Michael Crouch. The read/listen combination drew me in immediately.

The Great Believers  is what I'd consider an issue novel. It's about the AIDS crisis in 1980s Chicago and it triggered memories, both happy and sad, of lost friends. It also prompted me to reflect on my time as a clinical pharmacist at a teaching hospital, where my "territory" included the AIDS ward. Therapies mentioned in the book, standard in the mid-80s, seem positively prehistoric by today's standards. Needless to say, the book brought tears to my eyes more than once.

Makkai uses a dual timeline to tell the story, alternating between the 1980s and today. Obviously, many characters are absent from the present day narrative. The contemporary story, mostly set in Paris, is far weaker. While I understand the author's choice, I wonder if it might have been better told chronologically.
My rating:






I love books about books, so Diane's recent 5-star rating got my attention. Happily, the audiobook was available for instant download from my library via hoopla. It's just under four hours, and I raced through it in just two days... loved every minute! This was the first time I've read Ann Hood, but I'd like to try Kitchen Yarns: Notes on Life, Love, and Food soon. And maybe her fiction, too. Thanks, Diane :)
My rating:






Another recommendation from Diane, this book is a series of comical short stories and the 88-year-old "elderly lady" just happens to be a serial killer. I borrowed the tiny hardcover book from the library and laughed out loud several times as I read.  Even the table of contents made me smile:
An Elderly Lady Has Accommodation Problems
An Elderly Lady and Her Travels
An Elderly Lady Seeks Peace at Christmastime
The Antique Dealer's Death
An Elderly Lady is Faced With a Dilemma
This book was just plain fun. I plan to read more from this author, too. Thanks, Diane!
My rating:




Set aside for now//

Grand Hotel by Vicki Baum

My Back to the Classics Challenge isn't off to the best start. This was to be my "classic in translation" and, while it was an okay read, I was never anxious to pick it up... especially after setting it aside for a few days.

A week or two ago I read (wish I could remember where - blog? twitter?) a comment stating that the reader gave a book only 25 to 50 pages. If it hadn't sufficiently drawn her in, or if she could put it down and never wonder about the characters or subject matter, then it was time to move on. There are so many other potential great reads out there. I must have seen that comment at precisely the right time. I decided to move on, too.



Current reading//

by Ruth Bader Ginsburg
narrated by Linda Lavin

My RBG reading, or in this case listening, continues. This audiobook features archival original recordings of Justice Ginsburg’s speeches and bench announcements, as well as a speech delivered by her husband Marty. Audio is definitely the way to go here!





Some Prefer Nettles by JunichirĊ Tanizaki 
I'm reading this for the Back to the Classics Challenge... classic in translation, take two! So far, so good.



This post is far too long, so I'll forgo "In the kitchen" and save photos of my new bike for next time. I won't let three or four weeks elapse either. Thank you for reading all the way to the end!

How's your winter going? What's the best book you've read this month?


33 comments:

  1. I love that your reading choices are so varied. I love Ann Hood’s fiction. I think you might loveit, too! It must be fun having bursts of guests!

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    1. Patty - I will try Ann Hood's fiction. Which one was your favorite?

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  2. I was so happy to see this post, JoAnn! I was pretty sure you were just busy, enjoying life in Florida, but I was beginning to wonder if you were giving up blogging. That would be a very sad day in the blogosphere, my friend!

    I am also a huge fan of Ann Hood. I loved Morningstar and snagged a copy of Kitchen Yarns while picking up a couple of holds at my library yesterday. The Knitting Circle and The Book That Matters Most (both fiction) are very good, but I recently read one of her early novels (Ruby) and was very disappointed.

    I tried, but gave up on An Elderly Lady Is Up To No Good. I really wanted to like it after reading Diane's review. Oh, well.

    My favorite book this month? Oh, dear. I've read several winners. Becoming by Michelle Obama is a five-star read. After You by Jojo Moyes is a 4.5/5, as is Whiskey When We're Dry by John Larison. Oh, and A Rule Against Murder by Louise Penny was very good, too. I've had a great month of reading and new activities. Time to start composing my monthly summary!

    Have a great week!

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    1. Les - I always forget how busy February gets down here... all of our family and friends want to escape the winter weather! Not sure I'll ever be able to give up blogging, even though I'm not here as often as I used to be.

      I'm on the hold list for Kitchen Yarns (surprised it's taking so long) and will probably start her fiction with The Book that Matters Most.... I remembered you enjoyed that one.

      Monika (Lovely Bookshelf) wasn't wild about An Elderly Lady either. She finished it, but didn't rate it very highly. It was just what I needed though... was even chuckling at the cross stitch skull and crossbones between the stories.

      I want to listen to Michelle Obama's memoir this year. Have never read Louise Penny... must remedy that! Hope you have a great week, my friend :)

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    2. Be sure to read the Louise Penny books in order. Makes them even better.

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  3. I'm so sorry that your first Back to the Classics book isn't working for you...I hope Delta Wedding will be better. BTW, I just started Elinor Lipman's newest book (Good Riddance) because it's due back at the library soon and it's delightful so far. And very New Yorky!

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    1. Audrey - I'm hoping to be ready for Delta Wedding sometime over the weekend. I've read several of Welty's short stories and loved The Optimist's Daughter, so my hopes are high. Other readers have found it difficult to follow though. Reviews seem to be mixed for Lipman's new novel, but I'm looking forward to it.

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  4. The title An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good just makes me laugh. I'll have to look for the book. We've had rain, rain and more rain and are finally seeing the sun some today.

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    1. Kathy - Hope you appreciate the humor in An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good. I really enjoyed it.

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  5. How does it happen that you review books I’m contemplating and thus save me hours and hours of time by skipping the meh ones?!

    I don’t know, but it happens all the time. Thank you for sharing your review of the Depression-era foodie book, Grand Hotel, and Morningstar. I think we know what book is now pushed to the top of my TBR.

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    1. Deb - LOL! I can say the same about your reviews and recommendations. You're going to love Morningstar :)

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  6. I was very interested to hear your thoughts and reflections about The Great Believers. I'm adding it to my list.
    And the Elderly Lady book is right up my alley, but I personally prefer the descriptor "older woman," or "older adult." :)
    And I'm glad you set The Grand Hotel aside. Hard to do, but upward and onward. Best wishes for all your future Classic Reads.

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    1. Judith - The Great Believers was quite an emotional read for me... so good despite the weaker modern day timeline. I also think the author took too long to tie the two stories together. I'm seeing some more tempered reviews of Elderly Lady and think enjoyment probably depends on how the humor strikes you. It was hard for me to set aside Grand Hotel, especially since it was a book I'd recently purchased, but it was the right decision. Some Prefer Nettles is off to a good start and I loved The Makioka Sisters by the same author. Fingers crossed...

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    2. JoAnn,
      I think you struck a resounding chord with one of mine. If I spent money on the book, I can't "discard" it, can I? I can get very hung up on this point. In the past year, I sent two books to a book sale that did not measure up and it was a wrench, but I knew they would only gather dust here. Nothing and no one was going to resurrect them.
      So glad to hear about Some Prefer Nettles...Must look both titles up.

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    3. Judith - I always seem to give books I've purchased more time. Hate to admit I've made a 'mistake' in buying them. Some Prefer Nettles is another NYC purchase -so hard to find books like that around here! The Makioka Sisters, by the same author, was one of my favorite reads for my first 50 Classics Club books, so I have high hopes.

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  7. JoAnne, so happy that you loved the 2 books I blogged about! The Great Believers has been on my TBR (I have a copy) but, because of the subject matter need to be in the right mood to tackle this one. I'm gad it was good.

    Have great week in the sun.

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    1. Diane - The Great Believers is very good, but so sad at times... especially if you have memories/friends that were sick then. The audio was well done, so a good candidate for a read/listen combo.

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  8. I didn't know you were clinical pharmacist. That's so interesting. And during that time AIDS really didn't have a lot of options as far as medications went. Today, it seems like more is available but at what cost to a person without insurance? Drugs in general are very costly.

    I'm fascinated with depression era food although I have no idea why. I didn't live during that era. But my husband's grandparents, when they were alive made the most delicious Sunday dinners on very little and I know most of the time that's because of how they had to live during that time because they were not needing to pinch pennies in their golden years.

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    1. Ti - It was both a horrifying and interesting time back in the mid80s... so many drugs were being tested as AIDS treatments, yet the short term prognosis was grim. Drug costs are a huge problem today and the issues involved are so complex. No easy fixes there :(

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  9. Oh too bad about A Square Meal. It's on my TBR but I'm not sure how interested I am in Depression era food. Maybe I'll get it from the library to check out my interest level! An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good looks fun so I'm adding that to my list. Have a great week!

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    1. Katherine - A Square Meal might be a good one to borrow from the library. It was good, but just not especially compelling.

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    2. I thought Square Meal was worth reading, though I agree that it wasn't the most exciting.

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  10. I'd like to read an Ann Hood book as I follow her on Facebook. Will look at my library's list as I'm almost ready for a new audio book. Grand Hotel -- I bought it. You're scaring me about it now.

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    1. Midlife Roadtripper - Grand Hotel was a perfectly good book... enjoyable whenever I read it, but never a book I especially wanted to pick up. There was always something else more exciting/interesting on my nightstand. It's still on the shelf, so I won't rule out trying again another time.

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  11. That Ann Hood book has my attention. I have been reading up a storm since I got over the flu, but I will do my monthly update on those books.

    Glad you are enjoying Sanibel and look forward to food and bicycle ride posts!

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    1. Tina - I'm so glad you're finally feeling better. The flu is the worst! Morningstar was such a pleasure to listen to.

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  12. I don't know Morningstar (adding it my wish list), but I did really like Kitchen Yarns, which I listened to a few months ago. There are recipes in Kitchen Yarns, so I plan to check the eBook out of the library so I can take a look.

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    1. Beth F - I've got Kitchen Yarns on my audio list now. Didn't know there were recipes, so I'd better add the ebook as well.

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  13. Now is the time of the winter of my discontent—so done with cold and snow, but it’s not done with me yet. I envy you your Sanibel sunshine. Enjoy!

    I’m afraid The Great Believers would be so hard to read—I want to read it but fear what it would do to my sunny outlook. The good news is that AIDS treatment has made such enormous strides since we lost friends in the 1980s and 1990s.

    Grand Hotel seems like it should be good—such a good premise.

    Happ reading.

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    1. JaneGS - My family and friends back in upstate NY are so over this winter, too, but they're looking at another storm tonight into tomorrow. The Great Believers is a wonderful book, but you need to be careful about choosing the right time to read it. My sister ended up returning it to the library after 50 pages... said she knew where it was going and couldn't face it. I set Grand Hotel aside for now, but I'm pretty sure it was a case of timing. Will give it another go later. Hope spring comes early for you in CO.

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  14. Glad you let me know about the Makkai novel and the Ann Hood story. It seems you liked them a lot so I hope to get to both. Great.

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    1. Susan - Both were wonderful, though in different ways... well worth adding to your list!

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