Sunday, December 12, 2021

A Mid-December Sunday Salon: December 12, 2021

 
Hello from sunny Florida! We've had a week full of  holiday preparation, last-minute remodel issues, and shopping. It looks like the new space will be usable in time for Christmas visitors, but the glass shower door may or, more likely, may not get delivered and installed. It will be fine either way. Still, I was beyond shocked when the painters showed up at 7:30 this morning... a Sunday!


Recent Reading//


by Anderson Cooper, narrated by the author

This was a follow-up to The Last Castle, a history of the Biltmore Estate, which I read during Nonfiction November. I enjoyed this book even more thanks, in large part, to Anderson Cooper's narration. Still, even after two books about the Vanderbilts, I find the names (so many variations of the same ones!) and relationships somewhat confusing. I should have downloaded that family tree...

It was interesting to listen to a sweeping history of the Vanderbilt family from Cooper's perspective. Cornelius Vanderbilt, known as "The Commodore", built the famous shipping and railroad empire and accumulated enormous wealth, only to have it later squandered by his descendants. Along the way we encounter the sinking of the Lusitania (with a Vanderbilt aboard), a detailed account of an America's Cup Race (a Vanderbilt was sailing), and quite a bit about Truman Capote (friend of Gloria). This was certainly a wide-ranging history.

Cooper's mother, Gloria Vanderbilt, was always reluctant to talk about her family, but began to open up toward the end of her life. I am tempted to pick up his earlier book, The Rainbow Comes and Goes. It sounds like Cooper finally got to know and understand his mother as she shared these details about her life.






Musical Chairs by Amy Poeppel
narrated by Amanda Carlin, Matthew Lloyd Davies, Gibson Frazier, Jackie Sanders, Carly Robins, Fred Sanders

After consuming so much nonfiction, I needed a complete change of pace. Annie Jones, of From the Front Porch podcast, has mention this title many times as a delightful, lighter read. Last summer I purchased a paperback copy to save for just the right time... and this was definitely it. 

The opening sentence made me laugh. I quickly slipped into the adventures of a host of flawed, but likable characters. Set mostly in rural Connecticut, with brief forays into Manhattan, this book has been described as  a "hilarious and heartfelt novel about a perfectly imperfect summer of love, secrets, and second chances." Most of the main characters are musicians (as the title implies) and that made the whole thing even more fun.

When I discovered a multi-narrator audio production available at the library, I downloaded that, too, to make it a read/listen combination. I love multiple narrators and haven't listened to a production like this in a long time. It doesn't disappoint.



Up next//

 by Eli Saslow

This book was already on my wishlist, but last week Susie from Novel Visits listed it as one of her favorite audios of 2021. With one audible credit about to expire, that was just the nudge I needed! I'm planning to start on my walk tomorrow.




I'll also start a book in print... probably more lighter fiction. Under consideration are The Narrowboat Summer by Anne Youngson  or Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher.



On the blog//

The week ahead//
The family starts arriving on Friday. I'm not sure how much I'll be around the next couple of weeks, but will certainly be back with a yearly wrap-up and  2021 favorites. Happy Holidays to all!

How was your week? What have you been reading?



The Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz.
It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date.





54 comments:

  1. The tropical Santa is a really good one.

    best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

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    1. Mae - The tropical Christmas vibe takes some getting used to, but it's fun!

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  2. After seen you post about Voices From the Pandemic, I bought the audio. Looking forward to listening to it!

    I started listening to Narrowboat Summer at the beginning of the year but it didn't grab me, so I put it on hold. I'll be watching for your review.

    I love the Santa!

    Enjoy your time with family, and have a great Christmas!

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    1. Vicki - I'll be curious to hear what you think about Voices From the Pandemic. Planning to start it tomorrow morning on my walk.

      Narrowboat Summer was on a list of recommendations from my NY book club members. I have it on my kindle and may try the audio from hoopla.

      That Santa was actually in motion... it looked like he was doing a hula dance!

      Merry Christmas to you and your family.

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  3. I'm glad the remodeling is still on as planned. That would be a shock to have painters show up so early though.

    I have Winter Solstise! It's been languishing on my shelf so you have inspired me to pick it up now.

    A few days ago I made tomato and goat cheese tarts from an Ina Garten recipe. They would be greta for entertaining and I wanted to mention them to you. You would probably get them to turn out pretty!

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    1. Tina - I couldn't believe it when the painters rang the doorbell this morning! Had no idea they would be working today, but am glad it's getting done.

      Not sure whether I'll pick up Narrowboat Summer or Winter Solstice, but will decide on one of them tomorrow. My audio will definitely be Voices From the Pandemic.

      Your tomato and goat cheese tarts looked delicious!! No way I'd do better than that, but I do love that flavor combination and will give them a try over the holidays.

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  4. After seeing, not seen! How'd I make that mistake?

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    1. Vicki - LOL, I didn't even notice the error before I saw this comment!!

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  5. What a beautiful photo! I would love some warm, sunny weather right about now. We're in for about 20 days of rain! And the wind yesterday was crazy. 5 trees down in the neighborhood.

    Glad your remodel is almost finished. How exciting!

    I highly recommend The Rainbow Comes and Goes, especially on audio. Anderson and Gloria both read their sections, which I really enjoyed.

    I just added Musical Chairs to my audio list. It sounds highly entertaining! I also plan to listen to Voices From the Pandemic (added after seeing it on Susie's post) and expect it might be something similar to The Only Plane in the Sky. I'll have my Kleenex ready! I have The Narrow Boat Summer on my TBR shelf and will start that next month. I'm pretty sure I've read that novel by Pilcher, but I still have a copy of her Coming Home on my shelves. I think I've started it two or three times, but set it aside for something else. Maybe this winter will be the year I actually read it!

    Enjoy your holiday with all your houseguests! I can't believe how fast this month is going by.

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    1. Les - I'd probably get depressed with 20 days of rain... this weather has spoiled me. My parents in central NY got that awful wind over the weekend and had a huge tree come down in the backyard. It missed destroying their new deck by less than 2 feet!

      I'll add The Rainbow Comes and Goes to my audio list, especially if Gloria narrates part of it. I got the sense that they developed a greater love and appreciation of each other as she shared stories of her life. It was a pleasure to hear Anderson Cooper's voice on my walks last week.

      I was also thinking of The Only Plane in the Sky as I read the description of Voices From the Pandemic. I'm still not ready to listen to that one, but Voices sounds so interesting. Looking forward to tomorrow's walk already!

      Many of my favorite audios are multi-narrator productions, but I haven't listened to any lately. Musical Chairs struck just the right chord (silly pun intended!) and was immensely enjoyable. My mother has fond memories of the print version and I've recommended it to my sisters. Hope you give it a try.

      This whole year has passed so quickly! Seems like August just was last week... We're looking forward to having everyone here for Christmas and wish you, Rod, and your mom a very happy holiday!

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  6. I remember reading and greatly enjoying Winter Solstice (as I did just about everything of hers that I read). But it was so long ago it almost doesn't count as a re-read :). I've been thinking about stocking up on some lighter reading for January (which is always insanely busy at work and will put this on my list).
    I got the Anderson Cooper book from the library but unfortunately it's on actual CDs so I will be falling asleep to it instead of walking with it. I don't mean that to be disrespectful to the author(s) of the books on CD I listen to -- it really does help me unwind at the end of the day.
    Is this your first Christmas in Florida?

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    1. Audrey - I reread The Shell Seekers during the summer of 2020 and have wanted more ever since. I though Winter Solstice would be perfect holiday reading... maybe the week between Christmas and New Year. I'll listen to nonfiction, but want most of my print reading to be light fiction for a few weeks.

      It's been a long time (close to 10 years) since I listened to an audiobook on CD. The selection is still good at the library, but the only CD player I have is in my car now. Now I listen on my phone... on my walk or with a sleep timer before bed.

      This will be our second Christmas in Florida. We moved into the house just before Thanksgiving last year, so the tropical Christmas vibes still seem a little exotic. I loved all the white Christmases, but there's something magical about a Christmas tree on the beach, too.

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  7. Winter Solstice has been on my TBR list forever. Voices from the Pandemic was one I planned to purchase as it's unavailable through library on audio. Glad you lower level is shaping up in time for guests - the month and Christmas is sneaking up fast.

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    1. Diane - I couldn't get Voices From the Pandemic on audio from libraries here either, so was glad to have that final credit to use before my membership renewed. Winter Solstice might be a good read for the week between Christmas and New Year!

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  8. Yes, mothers sharing about their lives answers so many questions! Musical Chairs and Voices from the Pandemic should really balance each other out. I bet Voices is a fabulous via audio! Pilcher is a win-win! Happy reading!

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    1. Miasmine - I reread The Shell Seekers last year and loved it every bit as much as I did all those years ago. Don't think I read Winter Solstice back then, but am looking forward to it now!

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  9. Have a wonderful time with your family over the next couple of weeks!

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  10. Fingers crossed that the remodel will be done in time for Christmas!

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    1. Angela - If everything is done except for the shower doors, it will be a big win! I can get a tension rod and shower curtain if needed.

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  11. Sounds like you have done some good reading!

    Glad your remodel will be done or mostly done in time for your company.

    I loved Winter Solstice.

    Happy reading and enjoy your time with family!

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    1. Gretchen - There are times when nothing but a Rosamunde Pilcher novel will do... and I'm thinking the week between Christmas and New Year will be one of those times!

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  12. I would love to read the Anderson Cooper book, and also Voices from the Pandemic.

    Enjoy your week and your books!

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    1. Laurel-Rain Snow - The story of the Vanderbilt family is so interesting, yet tragic too. Anderson Cooper's book is definitely worth a read.

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  13. Yeah Voices From the Pandemic looks like an important book. I'll wait to hear what you think, though I've heard it's good. I hope your home will be ready in time for Christmas .... when does everyone arrive? Happy Holidays!

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    1. Susan - Voices From the Pandemic is off to a powerful start... maybe not the best thing to listen to during this Christmas season. One daughter and boyfriend arrives on Friday, the other set on Tuesday... the house will be full. Merry Christmas!

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  14. I've just added Voices from the Pandemic to my future reading list. It sounds like a powerful read. But right now I am trying to focus on fiction and especially on some hopeful fiction. Something with weight to it, but not something that offers some optimism. Not sure what that will be...

    I bet your winter weather is similar to ours. Yesterday was perfection. Slightly cool. Brilliant sunshine. Blue skies. I wanted to be outside all day.

    It sounds like you have some good contractors for your remodel if they are diligent enough to try to complete the work as quickly as possible. Good luck, JoAnn.

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    1. Deb - Voices From the Pandemic is pretty powerful stuff...maybe not the best time to listen, but I'm into it now.

      We will be flirting with record highs all week, and tied or broke two last week. Climate change is here.

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  15. I love the tropical Santa! Enjoy your family and have a great week!

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    1. Aj - That tropical Santa moves and looks like he's doing a hula! So much fun!

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  16. Musical Chairs does sound good. Enjoy your time with your family. Come see my week here. Happy reading!

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    1. Kathy - Musical Chairs was such a fun read!

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  17. I bet you are relieved the house will be habitable!

    Wishing you a great reading week and a wonderful Christmas with your family!

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    1. Shelleyrae - It's quite a relief... I was already investigating alternative lodging. Hope you have a good week, too!

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  18. It's really a busy time right now, and a wonder that any of us are getting much reading done, much less finding the time to talk much about what we've read. Merry Christmas to you and yours as we step back and enjoy the time of year that probably creates more family memories than any other. Take care.

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    1. Sam - Merry Christmas to you and yours, too. Hope you have a wonderful holiday!

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  19. Oh, to see the sun and a beach in December!

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    1. Harvee - Nothing like a beach in December. Some people even put out decorated trees!

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  20. Fabulous photos! My vote would go for The Narrowboat Summer for your next read but whichever one you chose I hope you love it.

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    1. Louise - I'm going to give The Narrowboat Summer a test read tonight. It was recommended by one of my book club friends.

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  21. My daughter arrives in a couple of days and my son on 12/24 so I may not be on much either. We shall see. I am still struggling with reading and I don't think it will improve once they arrive.

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    1. Ti - Both of us may be waiting until 2022 to start reading seriously again. Enjoy the time with your famiy!

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  22. I heard someone say they read Winter Solstice every Christmas. Multiple narrators do make a great audio.

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    1. Kathryn - I know many readers return to Winter Solstice over and over again. I love listening to books with multiple narrators!

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  23. I read Winter Solstice years and years ago and have been meaning to reread it. I remember trying to figure out the Vanderbilt family tree when we visited the Biltmore and was thoroughly confused. I have The Last Castle on my TBR for 2022 so I might spend some time studying that before I read it. I hope you're having a wonderful week!

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    1. Katherine - I'm guessing Winter Solstice was a hit if you want to reread it... I've read the first couple of chapters of both books, but am not sure if I'll stick with one of them or just keep going with both! One thing that made the Vanderbilts difficult for me to keep track of was that they used a couple of names over and over again with slight variations. I should have downloaded a family tree!

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  24. Yay on remodeling progress -- even if it means Sunday morning painters. Hope your holidays are fantastic!!

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    1. Beth F - Thanks. Hope you and Mr. BFR have a very happy holiday season, too!

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  25. LOL - we are waiting on a shower door for our bath remodel, too. But for us, trying to decide to hire or install ourselves... Happy Reading, Merry Christmas!

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    1. Care - We got our shower door installed yesterday... just in time! Merry Christmas!!

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  26. I just finished listening to Winter Solstice. Not my favorite narrator, but I did the read/listen tag team method you have perfected and flew through it, and thoroughly enjoyed it.

    Hope you are having a happy, healthy holiday!

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    1. JaneGS - Just like last year, I never got to Winter Solstice... my reading came to an abrupt halt when daughters and boyfriends arrived. My plan is to get a fresh start today by beginning a new book and working on wrap-up and favorites posts for the blog. Happy New Year!

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  27. Happy New Year! Readalongs in 2022!

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    1. Care - YES, readalongs in 2022!! Happy 2022!

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