Friday, January 21, 2022

Book Brief: The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles


The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles
Viking, 2021
576 pages

narrated by: Edoardo Ballerini, Marin Ireland, Dion Graham
16 hours and 39 minutes

Motivation for reading: Amor Towles is a favorite. I will purchase and read anything he writes. 

Source: Hardcover borrowed from my daughter, audible audiobook

Publisher's summary (from goodreads):
In June, 1954, eighteen-year-old Emmett Watson is driven home to Nebraska by the warden of the work farm where he has just served a year for involuntary manslaughter. His mother long gone, his father recently deceased, and the family farm foreclosed upon by the bank, Emmett’s intention is to pick up his eight-year-old brother and head west where they can start their lives anew. But when the warden drives away, Emmett discovers that two friends from the work farm have hidden themselves in the trunk of the warden’s car. Together, they have hatched an altogether different plan for Emmett’s future.

Spanning just ten days and told from multiple points of view, Towles’s third novel will satisfy fans of his multi-layered literary styling while providing them an array of new and richly imagined settings, characters, and themes.

Opening lines:
June 12, 1954 - The drive from Saline to Morgan was three hours, and for much of it, Emmett hadn't said a word. For the first sixty miles or so, Warden Williams had made an effort at friendly conversation.He told a few stories about his childhood back East and asked a few questions about Emmett's on the farm. But this was the last they'd be together, and Emmett didn't see much sense in going into all of that now. So when they crossed the border from Kansas into Nebraska and the warden turned on the radio, Emmett stared out the window at the prairie, keeping his thoughts to himself.
My thoughts:

What an adventure! Amor Towles' new novel, The Lincoln Highway, is a rollicking good story. In addition to the great writing I've come to expect from this author, it features plenty of flawed, but likable characters I enjoyed spending time with. They gave voice to countless quotes and ideas that caused me to pause, reread, and think about for a few more seconds.

The characters of Billy and Woolly were particularly endearing, I wanted to hear more from Sally, but didn't see the point of including Pastor John at all. More editing might have been helpful, but the trend seems to be toward a more hand-off approach to established/successful authors.

This novel is faster-paced than A Gentleman in Moscow, though I still find the Count to be Towles' most memorable character.  It's also not nearly as tight as Rules of Civility, which remains my favorite of his three novels.

The audio production, with a cast of superstar narrators, is just wonderful! If you enjoy audiobooks, I highly recommend listening to this novel.

My rating:

Monday, January 17, 2022

Sad days...

Hello, friends. We ended up having a long, difficult week. Those of you who follow me on instagram know that my 94 year old FIL passed away peacefully last Thursday. My husband and his sister were at his side. We appreciate your continued thoughts and prayers... I'll be back to blogging about books later in the week.

(comments are turned off for this post)

Sunday, January 9, 2022

The Sunday Salon: January 9, 2022

Hello, friends, and welcome to my first Sunday Salon post of 2022. The holidays are now officially behind us as our daughter and her boyfriend flew back to NYC yesterday. We also took down the Christmas tree and put away the last of the decorations. Today is all about laundry and cleaning (with an audiobook in my ears, of course), but I'm hoping to eek out an hour late this afternoon to sit on the beach and read...

Current reading//

The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles

It's January 9th and I'm still  reading my first book of the year! It's nearly 600 pages and life has been hectic around here, but this is taking too long.  It's a read/listen combination and I have about a hundred pages left... so if I get that time on the beach this afternoon, I'll finish today. 

I loved Towles' first novel, Rules of Civility, and still find myself thinking about the Count in A Gentleman From Moscow. This book is very different. More later...

On the blog//

In the kitchen//

I was searching for a quick, easy dinner to feed a crowd last week when this recipe for Crispy Onion Chicken from Taste of Home  appeared in my inbox. It was SO good and there wasn't a crumb left over, but  I had a really hard time adding an entire stick of butter! I ended up using quite a bit more chicken than the recipe called for (pounded to an even thickness) so that made it a little better anyway. Later in the week both my sister and sister-in-law tried the recipe and their families loved it, too.

Now with all of the holiday treats finally gone, it's time to get back to healthful eating again... 

The week ahead//

We are concerned with my FIL's health again and most of our energy will be there this week. Prayers and healing thoughts appreciated...

How was your week? Have you finished your first book of the year? What are you reading now?

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

Thursday, January 6, 2022

The 2021 Wrap-Up and My List of Favorites


Another "Pandemic Year" has come to an end. For my family, 2021 was easier than 2020. We had a quiet winter in Florida (no visitors), got vaccinated in the spring, and spent most of the summer in Connecticut before returning to Florida at the end of September. Now we're boosted, but still cautious. Over the holidays we enjoyed the company of our fully-vaccinated/boosted daughters and their boyfriends... and hope we can continue safe gatherings into 2022.

On the reading front, 2021 was a very satisfying year.

By the numbers:

  • 61 books read, exceeding my goal of one book per week
  • 66% fiction, 34% nonfiction
  • 79% female authors
  • 10% classics
  • 5 books in translation
  • 3 short story collections
  • 2 plays
  • 1 book of poetry

What worked in 2021?

Read/listen combinations: Rather than reading a print book at home and a separate audiobook on my walks, I used a read/listen combination for 75% of the books read. I seemed to finish books more quickly, too.

Using the library: In order to get both print/ebook and audiobooks at the same time, I used my libraries 60% of the time.

A monthly reading plan: This was a change from my quarterly reading plans. I allowed flexibility for library holds/impulse reads and found it to be a huge success.

A return to classics: The New York Times  T Book Club read a series of American classics in 2020/2021. I'm hoping they bring it back this year. I also read several classics discussed on the Novel Pairings podcast. I think they'll be back from maternity leave soon.

An element of surprise: I enjoyed a 6-month Shelf Subscription (Annie's picks) from The Bookshelf in Thomasville, GA. 

Plans for 2022


  • Set a low goal on Goodreads (no stress!)
  • Focus on bookish events rather than challenges 
  • Read/listen to more books I own, older books, and books by favorite authors


  • Continue writing Sunday Salon/Weekly Update posts
  • Be more consistent with monthly wrap-up posts
  • Bring back book briefs (short reviews)

Favorite Books Read in 2021


Count the Ways by Joyce Maynard

MORE FICTION FAVORITES (listed in order read)

Infinite Country by Patricia Engel

Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Crossroads by Jonathan Franzen

Oh William! by Elizabeth Strout

(listed in order read)

How the Word Is Passed by Clint Smith

How was your 2021 reading? Did we share any favorites? 
Here's to 2022... and another year of good books and bookish friends!

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

This Week's Read: The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles

June 12, 1954 - The drive from Saline to Morgan was three hours, and for much of it, Emmett hadn't said a word. For the first sixty miles or so, Warden Williams had made an effort at friendly conversation.He told a few stories about his childhood back East and asked a few questions about Emmett's on the farm. But this was the last they'd be together, and Emmett didn't see much sense in going into all of that now. So when they crossed the border from Kansas into Nebraska and the warden turned on the radio, Emmett stared out the window at the prairie, keeping his thoughts to himself.
The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles
Narrated by  Edoardo Ballerini, Marin Ireland, Dion Graham 

And so begins my first book of the year... 

This is my third novel by Amor Towles. After loving Rules of Civility  and A Gentleman in Moscow, my expectations are high. I have the audiobook and my daughter left her print copy here after Christmas, so this will be another read/listen combination. I'm just over 100 pages in and enjoying it  so far. 

Have you read Amor Towles?

Tuesday Intros is hosted by Yvonne at Socrates Book Reviews.

Monday, January 3, 2022

Book Briefs: Voices From the Pandemic and Five Tuesdays in Winter

Hello, 2022! We are lingering in holiday mode with one NYC daughter and her boyfriend still with us. They are working remotely for another week and plan to fly back next weekend. We've had a wonderful couple of weeks... so many happy memories! 

I plan to compile my year-end stats and favorites list later in the week. For now, I'll tell you about the last two books I read in December.

by Eli Saslow, full cast narration 

When Catherine reviewed this book last fall, I added it to my reading list right away. Last month it appeared on Susie's list of 2021 audio favorites... I knew I had to listen.

Saslow,  a Pulitzer prize winning journalist, spent 2020 interviewing a broad spectrum of Americans about their COVID experience. The result is a brutally honest, well-balanced oral history of pandemic experience. As we all know far too well, public health issues presented by the virus have become politicized. Saslow offers no commentary, but presents a balanced selection of accounts from Americans with a wide range of perspectives. 

It's all here... A nurse-turned-patient at a hospital in upstate NY, an overwhelmed coroner in Louisiana who knows dozens of victims personally, a sixty-something retail clerk in NC expected to enforce the mask mandate, a young physician whose primary role is intubating COVID patients, a grocer who extends credit to his neighbors/customers as they lose their jobs, an Arizona man who organizes groups to enter stores and harass shoppers wearing masks, the man who has lost his family restaurant because of the shutdown...

This was a fascinating, often intense reading/listening experience. I ended up borrowing a print copy from the library just to see the photo at the beginning of each account, but the multi-narrator audio production is not to be missed!

narrated by: Bronson Pinchot, Mark Bramhall, Stacey Glemboski, Cassandra Campbell, Christa Lewis

Writers & Lovers  was a 5-star read/listen for me earlier this year and I was eagerly anticipating King's new short story collection, published in November 2021.  Much to my surprise, Five Tuesdays in Winter    was included in the Audible Plus catalog and available for free download.  I also borrowed a print copy from the library.

A short story collection made for perfect reading during the holiday week. I listened on my walks and sometimes read a story in the evening. As always, King's writing and characters shine. My favorites included Creature, Five Tuesdays in Winter, and When in the Dordogne


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