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!
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.
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?