Thursday, December 21, 2023

A Quick Update Before the Holidays Begin

Hello, friends. The holidays are about to begin and before things get too crazy, I wanted to post a quick update. Last weekend our daughter and her fiancé were here for an early Christmas celebration. We had a wonderful weekend which included a drive to see the Lobster Trap Christmas Tree in Stonington, CT. It was such an unusual and beautiful sight!

I'm also happy to report that the bathroom remodel was indeed completed on time. It looks beautiful, but this was a little too close for comfort. We literally had just a few hours to spare! 

Later today our daughter and son-in-law, along with Winnie the whippet, arrive for an extra long weekend. Then my SIL will be here tomorrow. Here we go...

Recent Reading//

Joan is Okay by Weike Wang

This is the January selection of the MMD book club, but overall not an especially memorable or impactful read for me. ⭐⭐⭐

This book is the January "flight selection" at MMD. It's a short, quick nonfiction read and I did find some valuable takeaways. Most people seem to love this one, but I'm probably not the target audience.

Current Reading//

by Jonathan Escoffery, narrated by Torian Brackett

This book was nominated for most of the 2022-2023 prizes, but it was Sam's review that convinced me to give it a try... and I'm so glad I did!  It's a read/listen combination and the audio is definitely adding to my overall experience. (It's available on hoopla.) I'm hoping to finish later today and will end up rating it at least 4 stars.

The week ahead//
We'll relax for a couple of days after Christmas before finally heading back to Florida! I'll be back here in early January with my yearly wrap-up post and list of favorites... and I'm already looking forward to reading yours.

Wishing you all a peaceful holiday season and a happy, healthy 2024!


Sunday, December 10, 2023

The Sunday Salon: Reading and Remodeling

Hello, friends! It's a rainy day in CT. We're expecting very heavy rain, strong winds, and possible coastal flooding later this afternoon and into tomorrow. I'm keeping a close eye on the timing since we were hoping to go to New Haven for a performance of Handel's Messiah later on. We'll see...

The bathroom remodel is moving right along and we're very happy with the progress. They have been working six days a week (surprisingly labor intensive for such a small space) and we expect to be finished on Thursday. 

Anyway, more time at home with contractors has meant more reading time. I'll have to worry about finishing my shopping later...

Recent reading//

by Colm Toibin, narrated by Tim Gerard Reynolds

This short story, set in Ireland, is based on an actual mystical occurrence. Each year on the morning of the winter solstice, the ancient burial chamber at Newgrange briefly fills with light. Toibin has written a slightly magical tale based on local lore. It can be listened to in about an hour and is available free in the audible plus catalog

Day by Michael Cunningham

"The only problem with Michael Cunningham’s prose is that it ruins you for mere mortals’ work. He is the most elegant writer in America." 

Those are the opening lines of Ron Charles' Washington Post  book reviewand I think he nailed it. Cunningham's writing is remarkable! In fact, I started this book as a read /listen combination and almost immediately returned the audio. I wanted to savor Cunningham's words on the page. And the story and characters are every bit as good as the writing. If you're up for a pandemic novel, check it out. I rated this 4.5 stars and hope to write a more complete review later this week.

Current Reading//

Joan is Okay by Weike Wang

This is the January selection for the MMD book club. I'm nearly halfway through, but don't have much to say about it yet.

On the blog//

The Week Ahead//
should  spend a day or two finishing Christmas shopping, but instead I'll be home waiting for the countertop install, painter, electrician, and plumber. Looks like it'll be quick dinners and some evening shopping instead... but I may finish a book or two!

Assuming we finish the bathroom on schedule, we'll celebrate an early Christmas with our daughter and her fiancé next weekend.

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.


Saturday, December 9, 2023

Thoughts on LILLIAN BOXFISH TAKES A WALK by Kathleen Rooney

I reread Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk last week. It was just as good the second time around. Here is my original review from April 2017.

by Kathleen Rooney
St. Martin's Press, 2017
287 pages

Summary: (from goodreads)
It’s the last day of 1984, and 85-year-old Lillian Boxfish is about to take a walk.

As she traverses a grittier Manhattan, a city anxious after an attack by a still-at-large subway vigilante, she encounters bartenders, bodega clerks, chauffeurs, security guards, bohemians, criminals, children, parents, and parents-to-be—in surprising moments of generosity and grace. While she strolls, Lillian recalls a long and eventful life that included a brief reign as the highest-paid advertising woman in America—a career cut short by marriage, motherhood, divorce, and a breakdown.

A love letter to city life—however shiny or sleazy—Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney paints a portrait of a remarkable woman across the canvas of a changing America: from the Jazz Age to the onset of the AIDS epidemic; the Great Depression to the birth of hip-hop.

My thoughts:

Meandering, thoughtful, light on plot. Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk, a novel about a woman and the city she cherishes, is truly a delightful read.

I opened the book, discovered endpapers imprinted with a map of Manhattan detailing Lillian's journey, and instantly fell in love.

On New Year's Eve in 1984, 85-year-old  Lillian Boxfish takes a long walk around Manhattan. From her Murray Hill apartment, to Battery Park, St. Vincent's Hospital, and eventually Macy's in Herald Square, with stops at restaurants, a bodega, a house party in Chelsea, and Penn Station, the walk chronicles her interactions with old friends and random strangers, as well as her ruminations on life and the city she loves.

Not all that much actually happens in this novel, but Lillian's interactions with clerks, restaurant patrons, and would-be muggers will make you laugh and may even bring a tear to your eye. I especially enjoyed her reflections on career (she was a Macy's advertising executive in the 1930s), love, marriage, and motherhood.

By the way, Lillian Boxfish is loosely based on the life of Margaret Fishback. Don't miss the author's note at the end.

Pearls of wisdom from Lillian:

“No one survives the future.” 

“Time only goes in that one direction.” 

“Any day you walk down a street and find nothing new but nothing missing counts as a good day in a city you love.” 

“Here’s some free advice: Make an honest assessment of the choices you’ve made before you look askance at somebody else’s.” 

“The point of living in the world is just to stay interested.” 

“If you love something, know that it will leave on a day you are far from ready.” 

“... my true religion is actually civility. Please note that I do not call my faith “politeness.” That’s part of it, yes, but I say civility because I believe that good manners are essential to the preservation of humanity— one’s own and others’— but only to the extent that that civility is honest and reasonable, not merely the mindless handmaiden of propriety.”

My rating:


Sunday, December 3, 2023

November Reading Wrap-up and Possibilities for December

Hello friends, and Happy December! Time seems to be moving even more quickly now and 2024 will be here before we know it. But November did leave us with happy memories. Highlights include my husband's birthday celebration, our nephew's wedding, a long Thanksgiving weekend with the family, and a 38th anniversary dinner at our favorite restaurant. 

November was a good reading month, too. I managed to finish four books... but that was only because two were novellas!

Books Read in November//

⭐⭐⭐⭐   novella

The Idiot by Elif Batuman
⭐⭐⭐💫   literary fiction, coming-of-age

We the Animals by Justin Torres
⭐⭐⭐⭐  novella, literary fiction, backlist

⭐⭐⭐⭐  nonfiction, audiobook 

Favorite November Read
Why Fathers Cry at Night by Kwame Alexander

December Reading Possibilities
Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney - reread, finished 12/2
Day by Michael Cunningham - currently reading
Eastbound by Maylis De Kerangal - NYTimes 2023 Top 10, audio on hoopla
Faking Christmas by Kerry Winfrey - if I feel like a holiday romance 
Horse by Geraldine Brooks - on my TBR shelf
Joan is Okay by Weike Wang - MMD January selection
Coming Home by Rosamunde Pilcher - Pilcher is perfect for the holidays

Also in December
Our upstairs bathroom remodel is underway, but should be finished within the next week and a half. Fingers crossed - we'll certainly need it by the 20th, but that gives us a week to spare. We also have the usual decorating, shopping (which we'll keep to a minimum) and baking ahead, plus a few other holiday activities. At the end of the month we'll visit my parents ... and then it will be time to head south!!

How are you doing? What was your favorite November book?

See you soon, Sanibel!😎




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