Monday, July 8, 2024

A July Check-In


Hello, friends. I hope you all enjoyed the long 4th-of-July weekend. That holiday holds so many special memories of our years on the lake in central NY... it's hard to believe we moved nearly five years ago! Here's an old photo taken from our dock that always brings a smile to my face. 

Our summer travel season continues, but we're home now so here's a quick update before the next trip. The second half of June passed in a blur of travel and family events. The highlight was a bridal shower in Pittsburgh for our daughter. We were also able to spend time with her future in-laws and explore a new-to-us city.  Who knew Pittsburgh has so much to offer? 

We enjoyed a long Independence Day weekend on the CT coast with our daughter, son-in-law, and grandpup. Their lives have been extra stressful lately, so we kept things pretty low-key... long walks, family meals, games, movies, and reading. It was just what everyone needed!

Next up is a family wedding in central NY, then a few days to regroup before flying to Santa Fe for our nephew's wedding and my birthday! Although there hasn't been a lot of time for reading, the books I have read are all quite good.


Recent Reading//


Olga Dies Dreaming by Xóchitl González 

With more heft and substance than the cover might imlpy, this book was a surprise hit for me. I thoroughly enjoyed the characters, the storyline kept me turning the pages, and I loved learning about Puerto Rican culture and history. I'm happy Modern Mrs. Darcy selected this for July's discussion... I surely would have missed it otherwise! 
⭐⭐⭐⭐💫


How to Read a Book by Monica Wood 

This is the book I read over the holiday weekend. My short goodreads review: Books, Maine, forgiveness and second chances. This feel-good story was a quick read... perfect for a summer weekend!
⭐⭐⭐⭐💫


Current reading//

Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin 

I'm still reading a handful pages every morning and still loving Team of Rivals. For such a long work of straight up history, it is surprisingly readable and interesting. Even Ann Patchett is a fan... she featured DKG's books on last  Friday's "New to You" instagram video.


About to start//

Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters 

This classic was mentioned so frequently in How to Read a Book  that I was inspired to look for a copy. I found a multi-voiced audio production to download via hoopla and the ebook on Libby. Here's the publisher's summary:
Deemed "essential" in the canon of American literature, this audiobook masterpiece performed in its entirety by a full cast makes the classic accessible to everyone. From a cemetery in a fictional mid-American town, the dead speak the truths about their lives. Some speak of hardships and sordidness; others, of their simple, honest, happy lives. Some are elderly and others are youthful or children; mortality has claimed them all. Their voices reach us deeply, alternately plaintive, anguished, enigmatic, angry, contemptuous, and comedic, evoking themes of love and hope, disappointment, despair, and abiding faith. As the Spoon River residents examine their lives, they invite us to do the same.
I'll let you know how it goes...


Also near the top of the TBR pile//
The Bodyguard by Katherine Center
Persuasion by Jane Austen
Fresh Water for Flowers by Valérie Perrin

We're traveling for much of the next few weeks, so I'll check in again after our 'travel season' is over. In the meantime, I hope you all stay cool and have plenty of good books to read!


 

32 comments:

  1. What a wonderful series of adventures you are on this summer! It all sounds wonderful. My birthday is soon, I wonder if ours are close to one another?

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    1. Helen - My birthday the 22nd, are we birthday twins? We only have one overnight trip planned for August... that is going to be my true summer vacation!

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  2. If you're looking for short, feel-good books, may I recommend the two Monk & Robot books by Becky Chambers? They're lovely. Weirdly enough, they're set in a kind of dystopia, but the author provides enough hope to bring a smile. And besides the two main characters are a thoughtful, curious robot and a tea monk. And now I want to be a tea monk.

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    1. Amy - Short, feel-good books seem to be working for me right now. I loved Sipsworth, too, and will give Monk & Robot a try. A tea monk sounds pretty intriguing, just added my name to the library hold list for the first one. Thanks for the rec!

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  3. Pretty sunset. Those years on your lake in NY were precious. How many years were you there? It sounds like you are on the family wedding train this summer - hope all goes well. I'm glad to hear your update. Santa Fe too eh? That'll be a bit toasty but great place. I still need to get to Olga Dies Dreaming and she has another book too now. I recently finished Fresh Water for Flowers on audio (long) ... while the storytelling is good in parts I found the story wasn't really for me ... but I am in the minority. See what you think and have a fun July.

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    1. Susan - We lived on the lake for 30 years... longest I've lived anywhere in my life! Our daughter will be getting married there in September, my cousin's son's wedding is Friday. I'm hoping the altitude keeps temps in a reasonable range in Santa Fe next week. My fingers are crossed! Thinking I'll wait on Fresh Water for Flowers until the travel is over. Maybe something light and easy for the next few weeks...

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  4. I second Amy's recommendation, and I would also love to be a tea monk!

    I loved Team of Rivals, and it's led to me to reading individual biographies of the cabinet members. The biography of Salmon Chase taught me a lot about financial policy, though I'm not sure I remember much of it now!

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    1. Hi Lisa, good to hear from you!! I've been thinking of you and hoping all is well following the storm.

      Team of Rivals is just so good. I've read at least two other DKG books and now want to read everything she's written! In NY, we lived close enough to Seward's house to visit a few times over the years. He was quite an interesting character, too. I think Erik Larson's latest book is about the beginnings of the Civil War, Fort Sumter, etc. Another one for my ist!

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  5. That is a stunning photo at the top. I am sure you have such wonderful memories of those times. You all have been traveling like crazy! Good times in those cites you've visited and seeing family is the best.

    Thanks for posting about the books you enjoyed and I am interested in several of the titles. I just finished Ask Again, Yes and it's amazing. Thank you for the recommendation. On to the next in my stack!

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    1. Tina - It's both strange to think that we lived in CNY for 30 years, and that it's been almost 5 since we moved! I wish we could have spaced all this travel out a little more, but after Santa Fe I'm planning an extended summer stay-cation! It'll be tough to pry me out of this house during August, lol! Sounds like you've been on a roll with good books lately. Hope that continues all summer!

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  6. I love that photo, it's beautiful! My daughter in law was born and lived in Pittsburg until she was a young teen and loved it. I've been there and loved it, especially all the bridges. I got an audio copy of Spoon River Anthology and will start it soon.

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    1. Vicki - Pittsburgh was such a pleasant surprise! I loved all the bridges, too. Had no idea it was such a foodie town, plus the arts, and of course sports! We were supposed to go to a baseball game while we there, but it was during the "heat dome" and just too darn hot to sit outside that long. Maybe we'll get back there in the fall.

      I'll be curious to hear what you think about Spoon River Anthology. I hadn't heard of it before How to Read a Book, but that made me want to give it a try.

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  7. JoAnn, nice to hear what you've been up to and I hope you guys have a great time on your trips and with family. Love that picture you shared!

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    1. Thanks, Kay. I was thinking of you when one of our daughters decided to spend some time in Ruidoso after the wedding. Last I heard the wildfires were close, but nearly contained. Hope you're enjoying the summer!

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  8. So glad you're having such fun adventures on your travels! Enjoy enjoy enjoy! What were the most interesting things in Pittsburgh?

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    1. Jinjer - I loved the city's 'sports energy' and food scene. Lots of great universities... and of course all the bridges over the three rivers. We had a great time despite the heat dome!

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  9. This the Midlife Roadtripper. I can't seem to get my handle right to not post as Anonymous and have run out of patience. I can only imagine how much you miss that dock. Safe travels and happy reading.

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    1. Hi Julie, thanks for commenting! I lost track of your blog during the blogluvin meltdown and am still trying to recreate my list on feedly. Hope you're enjoying some great hammock books!

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  10. Gorgeous photo!

    I'm glad to see how much you enjoyed Olga Dies Dreaming and How to Read a Book. These both look like books I would enjoy.

    Sorry to be so late to the party…just trying to get back to blogging after cleaning up the mess Beryl left us.

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    1. Deb - I hope you're done with Beryl's clean-up and your power is on. We're visiting my parents and there was a record number of tornado warnings from Beryl's remnants... so far 7 confirmed, but that number will rise. It's going to be a long season. Take care!

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  11. Ahhh. I was just going to comment on that gorgeous photo, saying it looks like an old header for your blog. Guess it's pretty similar, if not the one, right? I'll bet you miss your lakeside home, but the one you have in Sanibel is pretty nice, too!

    I've only been to Santa Fe once, but it was gorgeous, and I especially enjoyed it after reading Death Comes for the Archbishop. I hope it won't be too miserably hot for you. If you have a free day, I recommend a drive up to Taos. It's a funky little town and the drive (we did a loop) is beautiful.

    How to Read a Book has been getting a lot of attention on Instagram. I've added it to my list. Gosh, there are a lot of releases (in the past couple of years) that are set in Maine! I may see if I can Wood's book on audio. I'm not familiar with the narrator (Eileen Stevens), but I listened to the sample and wasn't irritated by her voice. Did the book have a lot of passages that you marked/highlighted?

    I just finished a feel-good novel that you might enjoy. I listened to The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle by Matt Cain, which is narrated by Simon Vance. I thought it was wonderful.

    Wishing you an early Happy Birthday!! Cheers!

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    1. Les - Yes, I used this photo as a blog header for a while - good memory! Summer evenings are when I most miss the lake, especially around the 4th of July. We don't ever have second thoughts about our decision to move, but feel nostalgic this time of year.

      I'm hoping Sana Fe won't be too hot, but at least the wedding festivities will be indoors. We're hoping to take a day trip to Taos after the wedding. All the trips to Santa Fe over the years and we've nevr been.

      Lighter, feel-good reads have been hitting the mark for me the past couple of months. I highlighted quite a few passages in How to Read a Book, but the audio was really good, too. I'd like to read her earlier novel The One-in-a-Million Boy... readers seem to love it. I'll check out The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle, too. Thanks :)

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  12. What a beautiful sunset picture! We had the 4th at the Gulf and it was miserably hot but we had a nice time. How to Read a Book looks like a book I'd really enjoy. I've never been to Pittsburgh but it sounds like I should give it a look! I hope you have a wonderful week and fantastic birthday!

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    1. Katherine - I think you would enjoy How to Read a Book. I left my copy with my mother today.She'll have it finished by this time tomorrow, I'm sure!

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  13. Ahhhhhh, you were in my town! :) So glad you enjoyed much of what makes Pittsburgh special. If you make a return visit and have a few spare minutes, would love to grab a coffee or do a bookstore visit to say hello in person!

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    1. Melissa - That would be great!! We'll certainly have the opportunity to visit again so I'll let you know. We had an amazing time despite the heat... and despite the fact that "yinz" put your fries inside the sandwich. I'm half Italian and we had some outstanding Italian food while we were there! It was too hot to go to the afternoon baseball game, but hopefully another time... or football!

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  14. Enjoy your family weddings! Sounds like such a fun summer. Yes, I caught Ann Patchett raving about Doris Kearns Goodwin--I've been watching the Ken Burns's Baseball documentary (every Sunday for months now), and it's always a treat when Goodwin is on.

    I have some travel coming up in Sept--How to Read a Book sounds like a good book for the plane ride from DEN to SEA.

    I've heard that title, Spoon River Anthology forever, but no next to nothing about it. The description brings Our Town to mind...I'll be interested in hearing how you like it.

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    1. Janes GS - We are back from a long weekend in central NY and regrouping before the trip to Santa Fe in a couple days... my head is spinning, but it's all great fun!

      How to Read a Book would be a perfect plane read! My mother started it it today and already loves it. As for Spoon River Anthology, I haven't spent enough time on it to form an opinion. They are all short epithets of town inhabitants lives and taken together have an Our Town vibe so far. Not sure I'm really hooked yet.

      The Ken Burns baseball series sounds great! I just found it on hoopla and each episode (inning) is one borrow. I can see where it could take months to finish, though I'd like to try!

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  15. Beautiful photo! It's cool that you've had so many adventures lately. I hope the wedding goes well.

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  16. Sounds like you're having a nice summer spending time with family. You've got me curious about How to Read a Book!

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    1. Diana - My mother just finished How to Read a Book yesterday and loved it! I think my sister gets it next...

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