Sunday, April 28, 2024

The Sunday Salon: April 28, 2024

Hello, friends. It's another sunny, warm, and breezy day in southwest FL and I can't believe we're heading into May this week... wasn't January just a few weeks ago?? Yesterday I celebrated Independent Bookstore Day with a trip to our local indie. They are still in the midst of hurricane repairs and stock is limited, but I bought The Mango Tree: A Memoir of Fruit, Florida, and Felony  by Annabelle Tometich, a local author and former food writer/restaurant critic for the local newspaper. I'm happy to support both local businesses and authors!

Finished last week//

Absolution by Alice McDermott

This is the third novel for my Vietnam project and my first by Alice McDermott. It was also another buddy ready with Tina! Inspired by Graham Greene's  The Quiet American  and set in the early 1960s, it focuses on American wives in Vietnam and their pursuit to do good and relieve suffering. Tricia, a shy, young, newlywed, is befriended by Charlene, a more experienced wife and mother of three. She is swept up by Charlene and her efforts to relieve local wretchedness. I especially loved the structure of this novel. Sixty years later Charlene's daughter, a child in Vietnam, reaches out to now 80-something Tricia. They both look back on their time in Saigon and reflect on how that pursuit of 'inconsequential good' effected the course of their lives. Was it actually more selfish than selfless?

McDermott also touches on a 60s version of feminism, family, faith, activism, war, and more.There is a lot going on in this book with plenty to reflect upon and discuss.  I'll certainly be reading more by Alice McDermott!

Set aside//

The Husbands by Holly Gramazio

This is the June MMD book club selection and my library hold came in much earlier than expected. If I don't read it now, I might not get another chance before discussion time. So I read the first 60 pages yesterday. Maybe it's a case of bad timing - Alice McDermott is a tough act to follow - but this book just seems silly... 

I'm not sure what I'll pick up next.

The week ahead//

I can't wrap my head around Wednesday being first of May! There has been a flurry of activity to get our post-hurricane repairs finished, and it's starting to look like we may just make it. I still expect some smaller punch list items may linger until next season.

This week I'm looking forward to MMD's live author chat with Ada Calhoun (Also A Poet and Wedding Toasts I'll Never Give), having friends over for dinner, and finalizing plans for our drive north in a few weeks.

How was your week? What have you been reading?

The Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz.


Sunday, April 21, 2024

The Sunday Salon: Shells Galore!

Hello, friends, it's another sunny Sunday in southwest Florida! The entire week has been sunny and breezy with rising (now tropical) humidity... perfect pre-rainy season weather. The steady winds have brought in great masses of shells up and down the island, and I've heard about several coveted junonia finds. My search began in the 90s...

Here is a sample of what I picked up from a single shell mound (left to right): 
fighting conch
paper fig
lightning whelk
banded tulip

It's been a pretty good week on the reading front, too. I finished two books and started another.  Also, that bathroom vanity I mentioned last week got delivered... now we wait for the installer. 

Recent Reading//

This slim short story collection by New Yorker writer Lore Segal focuses on a  a group of elderly women in NYC who have been lunching together for forty years.The stories deal with aging, loss, etc., are tightly written, and bittersweet. As a whole, the collection has a melancholy feel to it. I'm glad I read it, but don't especially recommend it.

Girls and Their Horses by Eliza Jane Brazier

I didn't expect to enjoy this, the May MMD book club selection, as much as I did. Mysteries and thrillers are not my usual genre, but this turned out to be a welcome change of pace following James.  I loved horses when I was a girl, and the time I spent in this soap opera-ish equestrian world of the ultra-wealthy was a lot of fun! Reminiscent of a Lucy Foley novel, the reader doesn't even know who has been murdered until close to the end of the story. This is not great literature by any means and the writing felt like it was geared toward a YA audience at times, but I really enjoyed my time with this book.

Current reading//

Absolution by Alice McDermott

I started another book for my Vietnam project on Friday and am happy to be reading with Tina again.

The week ahead//
It's getting close to that time when we start thinking about all the things we still want to do before heading north. With our daughter's wedding coming up in September and two other family weddings before that, we're cutting the Florida season short again. I hope I can check at least a few items off that list in the upcoming week!

That's it for me, how was your week? What have you been reading?

The Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz.


Sunday, April 14, 2024

The Sunday Salon: April 14, 2024

Hello, friends! It's another sunny Sunday in SWFL. Add in a nice breeze with low humidity and it just doesn't get much better than this. We hit a milestone with post-hurricane repairs this week- our upstairs main living area, interior stairwell, and lower level foyer are completely done! At last. The lower level guest area is coming into the home stretch, too. What a relief!

Highlights last week included an amazing dinner out with old friends, the 52% solar eclipse (so cool, but why didn't we join my brother and SIL in Little Rock for totality?), plus some beach and reading time. 

Recent Reading//

Even though I certainly read this book back in junior high or high school, large sections felt unfamiliar. I didn't like it much in my early teens and, all these years later, reading about Huck's adventures was still a bit of a slog. Switching to a read/listen combination made it a little easier. Elijah Wood’s narration (available free with an audible plus membership) was excellent. I don’t read abridged editions, but it might have been a better option in this case.

James by Percival Everett

As you probably already know, this book is a reimagining of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn  told from Jim's point of view... though he actually prefer the name James. And it is brilliant! It's also thrilling, subversive, and, at times, difficult to read. The author took some interesting liberties with the story in the second half and the conclusion literally took my breath away. 

This was another read/listen combination for me and the audio version narrated Dominic Hoffman was excellent. I'm curious to read more of Everett's work, possibly The Trees  next. Have you read it?

I should also mention that rereading Huck Finn certainly added to my appreciation of James, though a reread is not absolutely necessary. I would, however, recommend at least skimming an abridged edition. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Current reading//

Ladies' Lunch by Lore Segal

This short story collection by New Yorker  writer Lore Segal features 16 stories about a group of elderly women who have regularly met for lunch for more than 40 years. The stories deal with aging, loss, etc. and, as you might expect, the overall tone is somewhat melancholy. I'm glad it such a slim book.

About to start//

Girls and their Horses by Eliza Jane Brazier

This is the May selection at MMD book club - an unusual choice for them and for me. I have the ebook on my kindle. We'll see how it goes.

Later today// 
My plan is to spend some time on the beach this afternoon... walking, shelling, and reading. 

The week ahead// 
It should be a relatively quiet week ahead. Other than the expected delivery of the downstairs bathroom vanity, we don't have anything special planned... at least not yet. It should be a blissfully 'routine' week.😊

How was your week? What are you reading today?

Sunday, April 7, 2024

March Reading Wrap-Up and Plans for April

Now that we've finished the first week of April, it's time to post a March reading wrap-up. Overall, I had a great reading month! After the last of our guest left early in the month, I have been at home more than usual as work continued on our house. And that translated into more reading time.

I ended up reading eight (!) books in March, which may be getting close to a personal record. Some were pretty short though. I started my Vietnam project, read a couple of works by Toni Morrison, and, thanks to MMD book club, I was introduced to Ada Calhoun and read a couple of her nonfiction titles, too.

Books Read in March

Recitatif by Toni Morrison, forward by Zadie Smith (short story) - 5 stars
We Are the Brennans by Tracey Lange  - 4 stars
The Mountains Sing by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai - 5 stars
House Love by Patric Richardson (nonfiction) - 3 stars
Also a Poet by Ada Calhoun (nonfiction, memoir) - 4.5 stars
Don't Overthink It by Anne Bogel (nonfiction) - 4 stars
The Quiet American by Graham Greene (fiction, classic) - 4 stars
Wedding Toasts I’ll Never Give by Ada Calhoun (nonfiction) - 4 stars

 Favorite March Book

Looking ahead to April...

I'd like to continue reading about Vietnam, read the May selection for MMD, reread Huck Finn  in preparation for Percival Everett's James, and maybe even snag a copy of Amor Towles' new book. (I wonder if I should reread Rules of Civility first...)

April Reading Possibilities

James by Percival Everett
Girls and their Horses by Eliza Jane Brazier
Lunch Poems by Frank O'Hara (audio)
Absolution by Alice McDermott

We'll see how it goes.... 

What was your favorite March book? What do you have planned for April?


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