RebaRelishesReading 2017 - part 5
This is a continuation of the topic RebaRelishesReading 2017 - part 4.
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The Geisel Library at University of California, San Diego -- named for Audrey and Theodor Seuss Geisel
For some reason my topper posted twice. Best I can do to fix it is just "edit" it to this :)
I'm a San Diego grandmother who has been retired for 13 years. In addition to loving my family and friends, I love to read and I love to travel. My husband and I have started spending out summers at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York and like it so much we bought a little townhouse there. Part of what I enjoy at Chautauqua is that every week at least one author speaks in a lovely outdoor pavilion.
We enjoy road trips so we usually drive to Chautauqua and try to vary our routes and stop to visit friends/family and see sights as we go. We also enjoy cruising (sea days are wonderful opportunities to read while someone else takes care of making the bed, doing the laundry, cooking the meals, etc). We even fly to distant lands sometimes, although I prefer to travel any way besides air.
As to reading, my favorite categories are fiction (both classic and modern), history and biography. As is true for many of us, I tend to buy more books than I can read and have an annual goal to reduce Mt. TBR. (I think I even made a little headway in 2016).
I hope to see many LT friends from previous years and also add some new ones this year. Please stop by for a visit :)
BOOKS READ IN 2017
1. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead ****1/2(Pulitzer winner 2017)
2. The Patriarch by Martin Walker **** (audio)
3. Tales of the South Pacific by James A. Michener **** (Pulitzer winner 1948)
4. The Sellout by Paul Beatty ****
5. Now in November by Josephine W. Johnson***** (Pulitzer winner 1935)
6. Game of Crowns by Christopher Andersen***(audio)
7. Scarlet Sister Mary by Julia Peterkin **** (Pulitzer winner 1929)
8. Dragon's Teeth by Upton Sinclair****(Pulitzer winner 1942)
9. Lamb in His Bosom by Caroline Miller*****(Pulitzer Winner 1934)
10. Laughing Boy by Oliver La Fage ****1/2 (Pulitzer Winner 1930)
11.To Marry an English Lord by Gail MacColl and Carol McD. Wallace **(audio)
12.Years of Grace by Margaret Ayer Barnes ****1/2 (Pulitzer Winner 1931)
13. The Bible
14. The Town by Conrad Richter **** (Pulitzer Winner 1951)
15. The Store by T. S. Stripling****1/2 (Pulitzer winner 1933)
16. In This Our Life by Ellen Glasgow ****(Pulitzer winner 1942)
17. Journey in the Dark by Martin Flavin*****(Pulitzer winner 1944)
18. Guard of Honor by James Gould Cozzens*** (Pulitzer fiction winner 1949)
19. A Fable by William Faulkner** (Pulitzer fiction winner 1955)
20. The Way West by A. B. Guthrie, Jr.*****(Pulitzer fiction winner 1950)
21. Andersonville by MacKinlay Kantor*****(Pulitzer fiction winner 1956)
22. The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan****(audio)
23. The Edge of Sadness by Edwin O'Connor****(Pulitzer fiction winner 1962)
24. The Executioner's Song by Norman Mailer****(Pulitzer fiction winner 1980)
25. Advise and Consent by Allen Drury*****(Pulitzer fiction winner 1960)
26. The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters by Robert Lewis Taylor****(Pulitzer fiction winner 1959)
27. A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline****
28. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith*****
29. The Kennedy Wives by Amber Hunt & David Batcher**** (audio)
30. The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See*****
31. The Wind is not a River by Brian Payton*****
32. Eight Girls Taking Pictures by Whitney Otto***
33. News of the World by Paulette Jiles (audi) ****
34. China Dolls by Lisa See****
35. The Right-Hand Shore by Christopher Tilghman***1/2
36. A Partial History of Lost Causes by Jennifer Dubois***
37. Brother, I'm Dying by Edwidge Danticat ****1/2
38. The Chilbury Ladies' Choir by Jennifer Ryan ***(audio)
39. Schroder by Amity Gaige ****1/2
40. Excellent Women by Barbara Pym ***1/2(audio)
41. A Working Theory of Love by Scott Hutchins ***
42. The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson ****1/2 (audio)
43. Crab walk by Gunter Grass ***
44. Hero of the Empire by Candice Millard *****(audio)
45. Hillbilly Elegy by J. D. Vance*****
46. The Way Life Should Be by Christina Baker Kline****(audio)
47. Strangers in Their Own Land by Arlie Russell Hochschild*****
48. Everybody's Fool by Richard Russo ****1/2
49. The Fortunes by Peter Ho Davies ****1/2
50. The Excellent Lombards by Jane Hamilton ***1/2
51. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway **
52. A Gentleman in Moscow *** (audio)
53. An Empire on the Edge: How Britain Came to Fight America by Nick Bunker ****1/2
54. Commonwealth by Ann Patchett ****
55. Waltzing the Cat by Pam Houston****
56. The Glitter and the Gold: The American Duchess - in her Own Words by Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan *** (audio)
57. A Quiet Life in the Country by T. E. Kinsey **** (audio)
58. At Home in the World by Tsh Oxenreider ****1/2 (audio)
59. Conscience of a Conservative: A Rejection of Destructive Politics and a Return to Principle by Jeff Flake *****(Kindle)
60. Glass Houses by Louise Penny *****
61. Whole30 by Melissa & Dallas Hartwig
62. Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck **
63. Death Around the Bend by T. E. Kinsey *** (audio)
64. The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom*****
65. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck *****
66. Belgravia by Julian Fellowes *****(audio)
67. In the Market for Murder by T. E. Kinsey*** (audio)
68. The Issa Valley by Czeslaw Milosz ***
69. Doctor Hudson's Secret Journal by Lloyd C. Douglas ***1/2
70. King Coal by Upton Sinclair *****
72. Foreign Affairs by Alison Lurie ****
73. A Man of Some Repute by Elizabeth Edmondson (audio) ****
74. Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome (audio)****
75. Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline (reread) (audio)*****
76. Margaret Fuller by Megan Marshall ****
77. The Ninth Hour by Alice McDermott ****1/2
78. State of Wonder by Ann Patchett *****
79. Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie*****
80. The UnAmericans by Molly Antopol ***
81. Turtles All the Way Down by John Green****
82. A Question of Inheritance by Elizabeth Edmondson (audio)***1/2
83. The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards by Christopher Jansma **
84. The Pope and Mussolini****
85. Chasing Light: Michelle Obama Through the Lens of a White House Photographer****
86. The Six by Laura Thompson **** audio
87. Love in a Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford****
88. A Matter of Loyalty by Elizabeth Edmondson (audio)****
89. Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout****
90. The Templars' Last Secret by Martin Walker (audio)***
91. The Little French Bistro by Nina George ****
92. My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout ****
93. The Necklace by Claire McMillan***
94. The Spectator Bird by Wallace Stegner*****
95. The Rain in Portugal by Billy Collins***
96. At Weddings and Wakes by Alice McDermott****1/4
97. The Horse Lover: A Cowboy's Quest to Save the Wild Mustangs by H. Alan Day****'
98. Promise Me, Dad by Joe Biden***
99. Don't Tell Alfred by Nancy Mitford****
100. When Everything Changed by Gail Collins **** (audio)
My last thread was getting rather long and there are still almost two months left in the year so I decided it was time to start a new one. I had thought about doing it at a marking point ("beginning of last quarter of the year" or "back in San Diego" for example) but it didn't happen. So, here for no obvious reason is my final thread for 2017 :) Welcome all who visit here, you are MOST welcome. Please leave me a note.
Greetings from the Deep South! I was so happy to see that you had started a new thread, and your choice of topper is stunning - a very cool library. I think that starting a new thread for no obvious reason other than your wanting one is the very best reason of all. I, for one, will be eagerly following your end of the year adventures. Wishing for you a thread full of fabulous!
Congratulations on the new thread! And what better reason could there be then it was just the right time?! Love the topper; what a wonderful, different building. Just like Seuss. Happy Wednesday.
Turtles All the Way Down by John Green****
I picked this up at Ann Patchett's bookstore because it was recommended by staff and the description sounded somewhat interesting. I didn't realize it's a YA book. I don't have a problem with that it's just not a category I usually read from. All of that said, it's a most interesting book.
The protagonist of the story is Aza Holmes, a teenaged girl dealing with OCD. Her father died some years before and she lives alone with her mother, She has spiraling thoughts which she can't control and which often cause her to "live within her head". When they learn on the news that a local billionaire has gone missing just before being arrested, Aza's best friend Daisy convinces her that they should try to win the $100,000 reward offered for "information leading to the arrest of.." Aza knew the billionaire's son at camp some years before and the two reestablish the contact in an attempt get information. The book, however, is mostly about relationships and coping with mental illness rather than the mystery.
According to Wikipedia, Green has OCD and has discussed his condition on his blog (which I have never read).
Thank you Mamie and Kim!! How nice to have visitors so quickly :)
Happy new thread, Reba!
I like the library building at the top :-)
>8 RebaRelishesReading: I read that one recently, I am a John Green fan. If you liked it, he wrote more very good YA books.
Love the library! Is it as quirky inside?
Happy New thread. From your last one, do you recommend any other linked stories? I liked Elizabeth Strout's latest.
Hi Anita -- I might consider him again sometime but for now I have so many books waiting that I'm not likely to soon
Hi Charl -- I've seen the library from the outside a few times but have never been inside. I should probably do that some day. As to short stories -- I don't seek them out and haven't read all that many. I did like Olive Kitteridge but can't think of another right away.
A Question of Inheritance by Elizabeth Edmondson ***1/2 (audio)
This is the second mystery set in Selchester, England in the 1950's. In this one the heir to the earldom has been found and has come from America to assume his title bringing his two teen aged daughters with him. There is, of course, a murder and solving it unveils more hidden facts about the past earl. A fun, light series that is perfect to listen to while walking.
Thank you Roni and Joanne!! I love finding notes when I log on.
Happy new thread, Reba! I love the look of the library in your topper - haven't seen it before.
Happy new thread, Reba.
I wish I lived near that library as I would get quite a kick out of visiting it regularly.
Happy new thread, Reba.
That's an amazing building and thanks for sharing.
>8 RebaRelishesReading: I've added Turtles All the Way Down to my wishlist although I, too, don't usually read YA. I love the title, though. When I added it here just now, the touchstone referenced another work, so I clicked on others and there are 8 other works with that title exactly or mostly. So now I've read about "turtles all the way down" and am happy to know something new.
>17 katiekrug: Hi Katie -- happy to show you a new iconic San Diego building :)
>18 PaulCranswick: Hi Paul -- you should come and visit
>19 karenmarie: Thanks Karen -- I wasn't familiar with the saying either but it is explained in the book so I didn't have to look it up...although there may be more too it so I think I will look it up :)
>20 scaifea: Hi Amber -- thank you
Happy new thread, Reba. It must feel nice to be settled in at home for a change.
The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards by Kristopher Jansma**
This is a very complicated book. I'm not sure whether it's a novel or connected stories but it's the tale of a young man of modest means trying to find his place in the world and his legs as an author. He becomes friends with a much wealthier young man who is also apparently a more talented writer. The two have adventures, part and reconnect. The main character also falls in love with a (female) friend of his (gay) friend. All of the characters appear under various names and personas and all over the world. I didn't really like any of the characters and the book just felt to me like it tried to hard. Sorry Mr. Jansma.
>13 RebaRelishesReading: I've seen that Edmondson book. I'll have to see if our library has the audio of it. I might have finished the audio of the Ann Cleeves book if it hadn't kept going back when I'd pause it at a rest area. Since I can't adjust it while I'm driving, I relistened to about an hour of it after one stop and about 15 minutes at another. I noticed the second time it had gone back, so I ran it to the end of the previous chapter since I wasn't sure how far into the one chapter I was. Not sure why it wasn't keeping my spot!
>27 thornton37814: How annoying to have the book jumping back on you like that! I've been known to accidentally bump mine when walking or digging in my purse and sent it off to a different chapter than where I was and it makes me crazy to try to get back to where I left the story.
I was sorry to read that Ms. Edmondson has passed away. She left some notes for a third book and her daughter may bring that one out but it doesn't sound like the series is going to be very long.
Happy new thread, Reba ;-) That's an amazing picture at the top of your thread. We have a similarly gravity-defying library just over the river from me, but much smaller.
Sorry the Jansma didn't work out for you, but glad I don't have to look for it now :-)
Hi Susan -- I'll have to look out for that library when we're in London next fall :) Glad to be of service as to your Mt. TBR :)
>18 PaulCranswick: I am more than a little tempted, Reba.
Trust that your weekend has gone well.
What an interesting building! I always wonder though, if they are thinking about what might happen if they outgrow the space. I guess that's less of a problem now with everything on line??
Hi Paul and Lucy -- So nice to see you here!
As to the Geisel Library...I knew the building had been there for a long time so went to Wikipedia to see exactly when it was built. Turned out it opened in 1970. Also found the following paragraph which I thought might interest some of you
Geisel Library is located in the center of the UC San Diego campus. It houses over 7 million volumes to support the educational and research objectives of the university. It also contains the Mandeville Special Collections and Archives, which houses the Dr. Seuss Collection. The Dr. Seuss Collection contains original drawings, sketches, proofs, notebooks, manuscript drafts, books, audio and videotapes, photographs, and memorabilia. The approximately 8,500 items in the collection document the full range of Dr. Seuss's creative achievements, beginning in 1919 with his high school activities and ending with his death in 1991.
If they run out of space maybe they can give the De. Seuss collection it's own building.
Since I've been complaining about my Garmin not working I thought I should report that the day before yesterday I saw there was an update available for the app and I downloaded it. Yesterday I was getting ready to call Garmin tech support (which I've been trying to get myself to do for a few weeks now) and noticed that it is now working. Still syncing today as well!! So I guess the lesson is that if you wait long enough for the update the problem will fix itself :)
I had my teeth cleaned this morning, too, Reba. Alas, no bookstore in sight...
Yes, I saw that on your thread just after I wrote it here. So sorry you didn't have a bookstore handy for "afters" though.
Well, I did stop by the wine store on my way home, so that was nice :)
>42 charl08: Hi Char! Dr. Seuss lived near UCSD so a lot of their charitable efforts were there. I imagine he left his collection to them when he died.
I never object to going to the dentist with the bookstore just around the corner and all :)
It's great to have a go-to destination like a bookstore next to a dentist. I don't have a bookstore close to my dentist but enjoy going to meetings where there is a bakery nearby. Hmm, maybe that's why I don't attend my genealogy society's evening meetings very much any more, they aren't close to any shops at all.
Hi Meg! We should pass on a hint to the local Dental Societies that dentists would do better if they located near a bookstore lol
The Pope and Mussolini: The Secret History of Pius WI and the Rise of Fascism in Europe by David I. Kertzer****
Although it won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Biography, this scholarly, yet very readable, book really is history rather than biography (although those are closely related, obviously). When Pope John Paul II authorized opening of the archives of Pius XI in 2002, Dr. Kertzer decided to write this book. He spent a sabbatical year in Rome doing research and then another six years researching and writing to compile the story. The book made me realize how little I know about the modern history of Italy and the Roman Catholic Church. The Guardian is quoted as saying "Kertzer has uncovered a fascinating tale of two irascible -- and often irrational -- potentates, and gives us an account of some murky intellectual finagling, and an often starting investigation of the exercise of power". I recommend this book simply as a good read but especially if you're at all interested in Europe in the 1930's and 40's.
Our dentist is just up the street from the Barnes and Noble, not my favourite, but I often go there after. It does help!
>49 RebaRelishesReading: You can find good books even by slumming. I have been known to make book purchases at drug stores and grocery stores.
Chasing Light: Michelle Obama Through the Lens of a White House Photographer bu Amanda Lucidon****
This book consists of many beautiful photos with only a little text but I decided to count it anyway since I read several huge books last spring. I couldn't resist it in my post-dentist visit to the book store because I'm a serious fan of the Obama's and the book is beautiful.
Meryl Streep is quoted on the jacket saying: "This awesome collection of images reminds us of how powerful the role of First Lady has evolved to become. Michelle Obama's optimistic outreach toward achievable goals -- in education, environmental stewardship, and healthy living -- gave people an infusion of hope and can-do encouragement. The photographs of Amanda Lucidon capture the sparkling moments of Michelle Obama's memorable time in the White House. It is a joyous collection."
I need all the reminding of those days as often as possible lately.
>46 RebaRelishesReading: Hi Reba! That one looks good. I've put it on my library wishlist for next year when I have more time hahahahahahaha :-)
>52 RebaRelishesReading: That sounds lovely!
That said, I'm not sure I agree with the idea of first lady/husband with any kind of political power (but I liked what Obama did with hers!)
>53 susanj67: Hi Susan -- I'm pretty sure you would like it.
>54 charl08: Hi Char -- I wouldn't say she had political power but she did try to use her visibility for good. The photos are lovely and the photographer is one of very few women who have been White House photographers so that's a plus too. Her boss, the Chief Photographer, has done a book of his photos of the President. That one's on my Christmas wish list. Hope Santa is good to me :)
This will be the start of a very busy weekend. Daughter and her "fella" are coming down from Portland for the weekend. Son (who lives locally) and his "lady" and two children will be here tomorrow. That makes 8 for Thanksgiving dinner, which in most families, wouldn't be all that many but it seems like a houseful to me.
I've already made the cranberry/raspberry sauce and I bought the pies but the rest of the cooking starts today. I plan to make the stuffing (bread mix made with chicken stock together with sausage and celery/carrots/onions sautéed in butter). That will go into the oven while the turkey rests tomorrow. I'm going to try brining the turkey this year -- never done that before. Also have some butternut squash to peel and slice and Brussels sprouts to clean. Celery and carrots need to be cleaned for the "relish tray" (celery to be stuffed with creamed cheese or peanut butter tomorrow).
First thing in the morning we're going to participate in a charity Turkey Trot. Daughter's "fella" and his sister-in-law will run, daughter and I will walk (she's 7 months pregnant). I'm rather looking forward to it except not to the absurdly early start!! Runners start at 7:40 and s-i-l wants to be there 30 minutes early. It starts a mile from our house so I'm thinking we'll be out the door by 6:45 or so. Very tough for this totally-not-a-morning person.
Hope you in the U. S. all have a happy Thanksgiving and that everyone else has a pleasant "normal" weekend.
What a lovely post, Reba! I love reading about everyone's plans for the holiday. Abby and I made the stuffing yesterday, and today we will assemble the stuffing balls that are her favorite Thanksgiving food. I got a good start on everything yesterday, and I made the sweet potato casserole with its pecan streusel topping this morning, so it's ready to bake off tomorrow. I love all the smells of the food as it cooks and the sounds of a full house.
I am also not a morning person, so I would be dreading the Turkey Trot. Hoping that your holiday os full of fabulous!
Thank you Mamie and Rhonda!! I hope your holidays are great! Sounds like you have a good start on things, Mamie.
We have just embarked on a heat wave!! I don't like these temperatures even in the summer but on the day before Thanksgiving -- REALLY!?!?
This is a time of year when I as a non-American ponder over what I am thankful for.
I am thankful for this group and its ability to keep me sane during topsy-turvy times.
I am thankful that you are part of this group.
I am thankful for this opportunity to say thank you.
Daughter, her boyfriend, his sister-in-law and I participated in a charity 5K this morning (daughter and I walked, others ran). Many people wear costumes for the event. I was especially impressed by this family of pilgrims complete with Mayflower :)
The Six: The Lives of the Mitford Sisters by Laura Thompson **** audio
This biography of the Mitford sisters was a total surprise to me. I had no idea what to expect and wasn't familiar with the family but they are quite a group. They lived from the very early 20th century until very nearly the end and had amazing and varied lives. Their father was a younger son of a nobleman who ended up inheriting the title and estate when his older brother died and lost the money through loose spending and bad investing. One of the daughters was in love with Hitler (she knew him personally), one was active in the British Fascist movement, another was a member of the Communist Party. One became a duchess and another raised chickens. Most of them became published authors (and I had heard of some of the books), and the eldest was acclaimed in her day writing successful novels, plays and biography. One became a close friend of Maya Angelou, one was friends with the Kennedy's. Nancy was a close friend of Evelyn Waugh. Quite a story and well told by Ms. Thompson.
I have now started reading one of Nancy's best known works, Love in a Cold Climate and I'm thoroughly enjoying it.
I love that topper, Reba. My son got his Masters Degree there 16 years ago. How on earth did I miss seeing that building when we went for his graduation? I was probably bedazzled by so many of the sights San Diego has to offer.
Your Thanksgiving sounds busy. I got off easy this year as our son and DIL hosted. I took a pie and store-bought rolls. I felt so guilty I made caramel popcorn last night which was much appreciated when we played games this afternoon. Happy Thanksgiving!
Reba--Your plans for the day sound wonderful--hope it turned out just as well!! Happy Thanksgiving!
Hi Donna and Kim -- We had a lovely day yesterday. True, I was exhausted at the end of it but it was all such fun and dinner turned out well and daughter's "fella" did most of the clean-up.
Hope you had a great day too.
Reba, that sounds like a lovely day, although an early start!
I'm so glad you enjoyed the book about the Mitfords - I am a huge fan and have read lots about them over the years, plus all of Nancy's fiction :-)
>68 susanj67: I'm really liking Love in a Cold Climate and probably will read In Pursuit of Love. The author of The Six sort of makes it sound like her others are less worthy. Do you agree? Have you read any of the books by others? I remember when An American Way of Death by Jessica was a big deal but have never read it.
Love in a Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford****
I learned about this book through listening to The Six and am so glad I did. This being a holiday weekend full of things to do, however, in lieu of original comments I'll quote the cover :)
"One of Nancy Mitford's most beloved novels, Love in a Cold Climate is a sparkling romantic comedy that vividly evokes the lost glamour of aristocratic life in England between the wars.
Poly Hampton has long been groomed for the perfect marriage by her mother, the fearsome and ambitious Lady Montdore. But Polly, with her stunning good looks and impeccable connections, is bored by the monotony of her glittering debut season in London. Having just come from India, where her father serviced as Viceroy, she claims to have hoped that society in a colder climate would be less obsessed with love affairs. The apparently aloof and indifferent Polly has a long-held secret, however, one that leads to the shattering of her mother's dreams and her own disinheritance. When an elderly duke begins pursuing the disgraced Polly and a callow potential heir curries favor with her parents, nothing goes as expected, but in the end all find happiness in their own unconventional ways."
I thoroughly enjoyed the book and plan to seek out other works by the Mitfords.
>69 RebaRelishesReading: Reba, The Pursuit of Love (my favourite) and Love in a Cold Climate are definitely the best-known, but The Blessing and Don't Tell Alfred are also very good. They are the four later novels. The earlier ones, Highland Fling, Pigeon Pie, Christmas Pudding and Wigs on the Green are less well-known, and less polished. Actually, having said I'd read them all, I haven't read Wigs on the Green, which Nancy never allowed to be reprinted after its first edition in the 1930s, because it was based on an Oswald Mosley type of character and it wasn't funny after what happened during WWII. I looked for it for many years in second-hand bookshops, and then the family allowed it to be reprinted a few years ago so I finally got a copy. I would read the second four before the first (which isn't reading out of order because the two sets aren't connected). I also managed to get all or nearly all of Nancy's non-fiction when I was at university and haunted the second-hand book shops in the city. I've read Jessica's Hons and Rebels, which I have in hard copy (my tiny hard copy collection includes quite a bit of Mitford-alia) and Wait for Me! by Deborah Mitford, and lots of biographies of them (Mary Lovell's The Mitford Girls is excellent). They still crop up a lot here (for example, looking up the four first novel titles I saw Christmas Pudding has just been republished) even though all the sisters have died now.
>72 susanj67: I put The Pursuit of Love and A Life of Contrasts by Diana on my Amazon wish list this morning and have told family they should look there if they want Christmas ideas for me so we'll see, maybe I'll get them for Christmas. I'm tempted to have a Mitford binge but then I look at Mt. TBR and think perhaps I should not get carried away with the Mitfords just yet but, over time, I do plan to read a lot more of them. Thank you for your comments because I generally like books you recommend and it's good to have a guide through this newly discovered treasure.
The out-of-town family has gone, the fridge is full (and I mean FULL) of leftovers, son is coming over this afternoon to help us get Christmas decorations out of storage -- Thanksgiving is officially over. It was a great weekend though: family, beautiful weather, great food, lots of walking, lots of fun, much to be thankful for.
Ooh, leftovers. Love that stage of holidays. Glad you had a good one.
Hi Katie and Char!
Thanks for stopping by. It has been a great weekend. Hope yours was too!!
>62 RebaRelishesReading: Rest assured, Po got PLENTY of turkey (never enough though, of course!).
Love the family photo at the parade/5k event.
I'm a great Mitford women fan although not as intensely as at one time.
> Hi Lucy -- glad to hear Po got her share of the turkey. I'm sure she enjoyed it.
I plan to read The Pursuit of Love and I'm quite interested in reading some by other sisters. Are there any you particularly recommend (you too please, Susan or anyone). I remember when The American Way of Death was popular but don't think I really want to read that one, but any other recommendations will definitely go on my wish list.
Life update: my son put our tree up while he was here yesterday so it's standing and has lights (they're permanently attached) and I put out the village yesterday although I have to get a new multi-plug before I can plug the lights in. I'm hoping to make big strides this afternoon and definitely finish by tomorrow. We weren't home for the last two Christmases so it's been a long time since I've had the decorations out and I do love them. They hold so many memories.
Reba, I say that if you are in the mood to read the Mitford books now, then go for it. Put them on your Christmas list and see what you get. I think nothing beats mood reading, and if you wait you might not have nearly as much fun.
And hooray for the decorating! We have the tree up but no decorations on it yet - we like to give the cats a few days to acclimate.
>80 Crazymamie: I love giving the cats time to get used to the Christmas tree :) I made progress today, got my village lights working, put out the nut crackers and put the outside lights up. I plan to put the ornaments on the tree tomorrow, clean up the mess I've made on the floor unpacking things and finish the laundry. Hubby offered to take me out to dinner but I am totally exhausted right now so can hardly think of moving so I asked him to make popcorn instead.
So, Mamie, any Mitford books to recommend? I've got Diana's biography and Nancy's Don't Tell Alfred and In Pursuit of Love on my wish list but would love to add more if there are recommendations.
>81 RebaRelishesReading: I'm not brave enough to put up a Christmas tree. It would be down in 5 minutes with my three fur boys.
>82 thornton37814: That's one advantage of no pets in the house, although I miss pets :(
Your Thanksgiving weekend sounds wonderful and your holiday prep is coming right along. Our kitties don't bother the tree, never have, fortunately.
I finished the decorating yesterday and finished cleaning and putting away after Thanksgiving. Now to finish Christmas shopping and get ready for our trip to Portland next week. Busy, busy time of year -- but I love it :)
Ooh you sound very organised. I've been hiding presents in a fairly erratic fashion and am fairly sure I've forgotten where half of them are.
>85 RebaRelishesReading: Is that Portland Maine or Portland OREGON?!?! : )
Glad you got your decorations up. We have to wait until the soccer team is selling trees as a fundraiser, which is this weekend, and then mine can go up.
>86 charl08: I do that every year, Charlotte.
Morning, Reba! Hooray for the decorating, and I am very impressed that you also got the Thanksgiving stuff put away - ours is sitting piled on our dining room table.
Hi Char -- you remind me of a time, 50 years ago or so, when my mother bought me a set of sheets for Christmas and hid them away. While we were opening presents she suddenly gasped and told me she had bought them, hidden them, forgotten them and now didn't know where they were. She died in 1995 having moved twice after she bought the sheets and they never were found. lol
Hi Kim -- Portland, Oregon. We have two daughters who live there. One is going to have a baby next month and we're going up for a baby shower and to hear her sing with the Oregon Repertory Singers Christmas concert. It will be a quick trip but should be fun.
Hi Mamie -- We haven't been home for the holidays for three years now so I'm feeling a bit anxious and out of practice. I think, however, that things are going well and that I will remember to unearth and wrap all acquired pressies :)
I moved Mt. TBR to my desk to make way for some Christmas decorations and I'm finding I really like having it where I can look at it frequently. I think it has a new permanent home.
A Matter of Loyalty: A Very English Mystery book 3 by Anselm Audley and Elizabeth Edmondson
I was saddened to hear at the end of this book that Elizabeth Edmondson died while writing it and it was finished by her son based on notes and completed scenes left by Ms. Edmondson. Even though Ms. Edmondson left a list of ideas for future books in the series, Mr. Audley doesn't feel he can/should complete them so the series is over with only three books. Too bad because I really enjoyed them.
>90 RebaRelishesReading: Reba, I also have much of Mount TBR on my computer desk, which does at least keep the books front of mind...And I did read one whole stack of them. The other stacks just keep growing :-)
>92 karenmarie: That is an excellent idea, Karen!
Morning, Reba! Love the picture of your newly relocated TBR.
Thanks Mamie. I'm surprised at how much I like having it there.
We're off on a road trip to Portland (Oregon) Wednesday morning and tomorrow is going to be crazy busy not only packing for the trip but also getting ready to host a group of about 20 tomorrow night (sometimes I just don't seem able to say "no" when I should). Given all of that, I expect I will not be able to visit LT as often as I would like for the next week and a half or so. I'm guessing there isn't going to be much reading going on either. Oh well (sigh)
>97 RebaRelishesReading: Have fun at Powell's. I'm sure you'll go there!
Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout****
Another collection of linked stories which Ms. Strout does so well. The theme is love in all of its complications including some non-traditional sexual behavior. It's interesting and well-written as always. As the Washington Post reviewer says: "...smart and cagey in every way. It is both a book of withholdings and a book of great openness and wisdom..."
That is the tiniest mt tbr! Mine is such a disgrace!
I've become fascinated (sort of) by the time variation traditions in different families. Growing up we never acquired our tree until Christmas Eve Eve (the 23rd). It sat outside in a bucket until Christmas Eve and then part of decorating it, only done on the Eve, was getting it inside etc.
We more or less do the same, a day or two or three earlier, and we go cut down the tree at a local place (very Vermont, yeah, we take our own saw, most everyone does) lots of joking around with the poor hubby that this is the one day of the year when he gets to boss us around a tiny little bit. (He gets to decide when it is time to go Get the Tree and we have sworn to be obedient after the time when we weren't and had to go get it in a driving sleet storm . . . ). We put the tree up right away, let it settle and then over the next few days you decorate it as the mood takes you, until we all decide there are enough ornaments on it. We have far too many.
Of course it is MOM who takes it all down . . . usually wayyyy too far into January. We can't bear to take it down.
Hi Lucy -- I just wrote you a long note about Christmas tree traditions and must have forgotten to post it -- bummer!!
I discovered that because I came back to comment on poor Los Angeles and the fires!! We need to drive north today and L.A. is between us and Portland so we're listening to the news to see what route we can take. It's so sad to see the west side on fire and frightening to see what is threatened. Not only are many people's homes at risk but so are the Getty Museum and UCLA -- so sad.
Oh, I'm sorry that LT ate your message. It's interesting and I'm guessing probably persistent through the generations. I'll bet my mother's family did the tree late. My father's family, who knows, my mother was forceful about doing things like that her way (the right way) and since my father didn't help with anything except the tree stand, I am sure he was thrilled to put it off for as long as possible. I know my step-grandparents (later marriage) did their tree late too -- we went to their house for dinner and did their tree on Christmas Eve Eve for decades.
Hmmm I am checking up on you, hoping you are well away from any of these new fires sprouting too close to your city. Wondering too if you are having some of the intermittent internet issues Roni's been having. I hope you are ok.
No, my internet problems had to do with kittens, not fires, Lucy. Hi, Reba. Hope you made it up north okay!
Stay safe Reba.
Have a glorious but not too hot weekend there. I am praying for rain for you all.
>105 sibyx: >106 sibyx: Hi Lucy. We've been in Oregon. We drove up last Wednesday and did a big loop east of LA to avoid a freeway closed for the fire in LA and the smoke of the Ventura fire. We live in the middle of San Diego, well away from natural vegetation so not likely to be affected by wild fires even there.
>107 ronincats: Hi Roni. We had a very long drive on Wednesday -- 13 1/2 hours to Redding. Finished the drive to Portland in half that on Friday. Did some shopping (Powell's) and lunch on our own during the day on Friday. Had a great time with daughters and their fellas on Friday evening (concert by Oregon Repertory Singers, including daughter #2) and Saturday (brunch, baby shower) and headed south again this morning. It was foggy and cold through Oregon (as low as 26 F) but we're now on the CA coast north of Crescent City where it was sunny and 64F when we arrived. Tomorrow we'll drive south through wine country to San Francisco.
Hope your computer issues are all OK now.
>108 PaulCranswick: Hi Paul. Thanks, it would help with the fires plus a wet winter is always welcome.
Glad to bring up your thousandth post on your threads this year with this one, Reba.
>110 PaulCranswick: Thanks Paul and thanks for keeping track of that :)
We're home from chilly Oregon after a lovely week visiting family and favorite spots north of here. This photo of our dashboard was taken as we headed south from Portland last Sunday.
We were in Portland to go to a concert by the Oregon Repertory Singers in which our daughter sings and to attend a baby shower for her. That didn't mean, however, that we wouldn't visit Powell's where I bought the following
We headed west at Grants Pass and spent the first night on the return trip on the California coast, just south of the Oregon border. The next day we drove south on 101 through the Avenue of the Giants
We also drove through the Napa Valley, stopping for my birthday "linner" at the Rutherford Grill. After a wonderful meal we moved on to a favorite bookstore, The Book Passage, in Corte Madera...
...where these books jumped into my arms and insisted on coming home with me:
We spent two nights in San Francisco, where I made a visit to the Book Passage in the Ferry Terminal and found Trajectory by Richard Russo while we were waiting to have dinner at The Slanted Door which is a wonderful splurge I try to have every time we're in "The City".
As we left the Ferry Terminal after dinner we were faced with this spectacular view which made a lovely end (except for the drive home) to a delightful trip.
The Templars' Last Secret by Martin Walker (audio)***
We listened to this audio book on our way to and from Portland last week and I'm sorry to say I didn't like it nearly as much as I had liked the previous ones largely because there were large sections on the history of the Templars and stories surrounding them which I didn't really find very interesting. It was a good diversion for the drive, however.
The Little French Bistro} by Nina George****
Marianne is married to a man who is cold and treats her like a servant. While he spends money on himself for nice clothes and entertainment he insists she eat food that is bought in the "past the sell by date" bins and wear clothes from discount "seconds" sales. She decides life isn't worth living and tries to kill herself but ends up finding herself instead.
My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout ****
Having just finished Anything Can Happen in which Lucy Barton is a character, I decided to read this book to find out more about her back story and enjoyed it thoroughly. While Lucy is recovering from an operation gone wrong, her mother spends several days and nights sitting by her bedside during which time they talk about the past. Simple plot but interesting story.
Stopping by, glad you had a great trip to Oregon and home again. Wonderful loot from the bookshops, quite a few of those books are ones that I have bought recently to give as xmas presents or for myself!
Thanks Lucy and Katie -- it's good to be home although I'm feeling the pressure of being gone a week this close to the holidays!!
Books, food, and redwoods. Thanks for sharing.
I hope you get everything done for the holidays in record time so that you can read some of the great books you got.
Welcome home, Reba! We missed you! Good job with the book haul. And bummer about The Templar's Last Secret - I have one more to go before I get to that one. I definitely liked the earlier Bruno books more than the last few, which have been burdened with the history lessons. I love history, but Walker is not good with making the history and the Bruno storyline feel seamless. It drags the story down instead of adding to it in some places.
Hi Karen -- thanks for stopping by. I think it will be next year before I get to the new books, however.
Hi Mamie -- Thanks! I missed you all too. You said it so well: Walker doesn't make the history seem like it belongs to the story. I hadn't really formed that thought yet but you're exactly right.
Any French woman blessed with the French "Marianne" would be expected to do a lot more!
>122 m.belljackson: Actually she's German. I'm feeling a bit pressured after being gone for a week and really didn't spend much time with those comments. It's actually a very good book.
My BFF came over for movie night last night and brought my (belated because we were away) birthday present: Obama: An Intimate Portrait by Pete Souza, the White House Photographer. I had hoped, and hoped, that I would find that under the Christmas tree but I got it early. It's such a beautiful book and I'm so excited to have it.
The Necklace by Claire McMillan***
One reviewer says: "The Necklace has everything I love in a story: a rich family drama, an enthralling mystery, exotic settings, and gorgeous historical detail. McMillan writes in assured and often witty prose, and her characters come to life on the very first page. An enchanting and intoxicating book." Wow! I totally disagree. There is family drama and the characters are pretty well defined with some being likable and others very much not but the "mystery" is so lame I didn't realize what it was until the book was finished and it was the only candidate left and the prose is grammatically correct but a little awkward at times. It was an OK book but that's the best I can do, I'm afraid.
Reba, the pictures from your trip are great! (the scenery and the books). And well done to your friend for giving you a birthday present that you adore :-)
Hi Susan -- thanks!(re photos) and right! (re gift -- but then she does know me we'll we've been BFF's now for almost 32 years)
The Spectator Bird by Wallage Stegner*****
Joe Allston is 69 and a retired literary agent who moved to the San Francisco peninsula with his wife where we spends his time "just killing time until time gets around to killing" him. A postcard which arrives from a women he and his wife met years before when they spent a few months in Copenhagen leads him to reread his journal from the time. The story alternates between his current life and his reading of these journals aloud to his wife (and the reader). An excellent book.
I have spent the past two days making Christmas goodies including a successful batch of sea salt caramel. I made your recipe for fruit cake, Jenn and I'm very pleased with it, as is my husband. So I'm tired and the kitchen floor is a mess (I did manage to clean the counters and stove up but the floor will just have to wait for tomorrow) but I've enjoyed being in the kitchen, singing along with my Christmas playlist. Four more little gifts for the grandchildren should come tomorrow and then I will officially be ready for Christmas. We'll be celebrating four of the family December birthdays on Friday evening at my son's house and then we'll "do" Christmas on Christmas Eve because the grandchildren will be with their mother on Christmas Day. I expect to be totally wiped out and happy for a quiet day at home by then.
>130 RebaRelishesReading: Would you be willing to share your recipe for sea salt caramel? Orville Redenbacher used to offer sea salt caramel popcorn in pop-up bags with "plastic film" tops. I wish they still did. It was very light caramel as opposed to what we usually consider caramel popcorn, giving it the right combination of sweet and salty. I love sea salt caramel on just about anything though.
I'm happy to share but I'm not sure this would work on popcorn. It makes a fairly firm caramel -- you can easily bite it but it holds its shape as a log.
1 cup butter
16 ounces light brown sugar
2 cups cream
1 cup light corn syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Line a 9x9x2 baking pan with foil, extending foil over edges of pan. Butter the foil. Set aside.
In a 3-quart heavy saucepan melt butter over low heat. Add brown sugar, cream and corn syrup; mix well. Cook and stir over medium-high heat until mixture boils. Attach candy thermometer. Reduce heat to medium. Continue boiling at moderate, steady rate, stirring frequently until thermometer registers 248 degrees F (firm-ball stage). Adjust heat as necessary to maintain a steady boil. This will take 40-50 minutes.
Remove saucepan from heat; remove thermometer. Stir in vanilla. Quickly pour caramel mixture into prepared pan. Cool 10 to 12 minutes; sprinkle with salt.
When firm, use foil to lift candy out of pan. (For easier slicing, freeze caramel for 10 minutes before cutting). Use a buttered knife to cut into 2x1/2-inch pieces. Wrap each caramel in waxed paper.
We have five December birthdays in our immediate family and four of us (granddaughter, son, hubby and yours truly) live in San Diego so we got together to celebrate the local ones last night. My son's fiancee made a lovely dinner and then we exchanged gifts. I got three books:
Henry James: A Life by Leon Edel
Don't Tell Alfred by Nancy Mitford
The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford
I think I'll read the Mitford novels next.
Stopping by to wish you and yours all good things this holiday season.
Happy Christmas Reba and MrReba - I hope your day with the family today went well and you can sleep in tomorrow :-)
Thanks Susan -- you're right about a "big" day which is about to start. Choir is singing at the usual 10:00 a.m. service and again at "Lessons and Carols" tonight at 10:00 p.m. In between son and family will be here for Christmas (eve) dinner and presents. No plans for tomorrow except a quiet day, recovering and enjoying my birthday and Christmas (?) books :)
At Weddings and Wakes by Alice McDermott****1/2
This is the story of an Irish immigrant family in New York, told through the eyes of three children. It differs from many other such stories in that the men are securely employed and, while certainly not wealthy, the families are doing OK financially. There are other problems to be dealt with and some things referred to but not explained -- just enough to make the reader want more. All by all, an enjoyable look at early 20th century working class life in New York.
Dear Reba, best wishes to you and yours at Christmas!
Love the photo of the UCSD Library up top - brings back happy memories of my college years there!
Thank you Anne -- I didn't know you went to UCSD and I like thinking that you have a connection to San Diego :)
Thank you Paul!
Great picture Darryl. Merry Christmas to you too.
I was going to use this as a topper for my 2018 thread but I'm sure I'll lose the "src" between now and then so I'll share it here. It's appropriate because I also want to share my Christmas "haul":
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan
Oscar wilde by Richard Ellmann
and a gift card for Powell's
Hope you all are having a wonderful Christmas too -- or, if you don't celebrate Christmas, hope you're just plain having a great day :)
It is that time of year again, between Solstice and Christmas, just after Hanukkah, when our thoughts turn to wishing each other well in whatever language or image is meaningful to the recipient. So, whether I wish you Happy Solstice or Merry Christmas, know that what I really wish you, and for you, is this:
Hi Reba! I'm popping in to wish MrReba a very happy birthday :-)
And also to admire your book haul. How many times over have you already spent the Powell's card in your mind?!
Thank you Rhonda. Are you back in Portland? How was the trip?
Thank you Roni. Hope you had a good holiday weekend.
Hi Susan. I will pass the message on. I've been busy and haven't actually given any thought to what to order with Powell's card. It is sitting on the corner of my desk looking at me though :)
Well, I am very sorry I missed you when you were here in Portland, which tells you how far behind I am on threads!! Just be glad you are not here now with all the ice.
Love the T-shirt and nice book haul!!
Happy Boxing Day!!
Hi Kim! I didn't realize you were in Portland. We'll be back again in May and maybe we can meet up then. Meanwhile, Happy Boxing Day to you too :)
>149 Berly: I'd like that too. Maybe we can have a meet-up with Rhonda and anyone else in the area.
The Horse Lover: A Cowboy's Quest to Save the Wild Mustangs by H. Alan Day****
In 2014 I met Sandra Day O'Connor and her brother Alan Day at a Fourth of July party at Chautauqua. I admit that I was struck dumb by meeting the Justice and only stammered a couple of idiocies before the friend who had invited me to the party took over. I had recovered by the time I met Mr. Day and had a very nice conversation with him. I found his book in the bookstore, bought it and it has resided in Mt. TBR until a few days ago. The book provides general information about running a cattle ranch and being a modern cowboy but more about how Mr. Day bought a ranch in South Dakota and turned it into one of the first sanctuaries for "unadoptable" mustangs from the Bureau of Land Management's range management program. I found it to be a fascinating read, recommended for anyone interested in modern ranching and the plight of wild horses in America.
>132 RebaRelishesReading: Well, I copied it to try sometime anyway.
>154 thornton37814: I hope it works for you. Perhaps if you cook it a little less it will work.
Hi Reba! Like your book haul! Don't Tell Alfred is maybe my favourite Mitford.
Hi Lucy. Glad to hear you like Don't Tell Alfred because I have pulled it from Mt. TBR to start next...like as soon as I finish here.
Promise Me, Dad by Joe Biden***
This may be my last book for 2017. I have an audio book with only a few hours left on it but I don't know if I'll finish it. I plan to start Don't Tell Alfred when I'm through here but I doubt I will finish it before the end of the year. So, I got close to my secondary goal of 100 but not quite.
Promise Me, Dad tells the story of Beau Biden's illness along side the story of what Joe Biden was doing as vice president. It's a touching family story which brought me close to tears at times. I didn't know that Biden's first wife and 18 month-old daughter were killed in a car crash which was survived by his then almost three-year-old and almost four-year-old sons. Heartbreaking story already. Then at around age 40 Beau started having symptoms which ultimately were diagnosed as glioblastoma, the brain cancer that killed Ted Kennedy and which John McCain is now suffering from. The book follows the family through hope, despair, experimental treatments, etc. The parallel story of Biden's work life is somewhat interesting and somewhat self-serving (no surprise there I suppose).
I like Joe Biden which helped me like the book. The family story is touching and the battle with the cancer is interesting. It's short and worth a read but not a "great" book.
Don't Tell Alfred by Nancy Mitford****
I thoroughly enjoyed this (almost lol) funny book. Fanny, the observer/narrator of other books by Mitford, is the central character of the story. After many years as the wife of Alfred, an Oxford don, Fanny finds that her husband has been named British ambassador to France and her life is dramatically changed. Her first problem is that the wife of the previous ambassador refuses to move out of the residence but a non-stop series of problems with family and staff follow. Thoroughly enjoyable.
I guess I'd better try to finish the Audible I have a few hours left on then I'll have made my 100 goal for the year.
When Everything Changed by Gail Collins**** (audio)
This is my 100th book for the year and definitely the last. It's the story of changes in American women's status from 1960 to the present. Being an American woman who has lived through this period, it's a bit like a stroll down memory lane for me but for younger women it might contain new information and provide them with good background for the current situation. A worthwhile book.
Your last books all sound like good ones! Great way to close out the year. ; )
>141 RebaRelishesReading: Yes indeed, a proud Triton! I graduated in the first class of Fifth College (now Eleanor Roosevelt College). That's where Stelios and I met. Loved that library!
So, not only did you graduate from a San Diego school but your college was named for one of my favorite women ever. I just thought it was a cool, book-related, San Diego building to post -- never expected to make a neat connection too.
Great book hauls in December between your trip, birthday and Christmas, Reba. You packed a lot into the month! You also made me curious about the works of the Mitford sisters.
Have a Happy New Year!
So glad you enjoyed *Alfred*. I read it first in my late teens and was so tickled by the story -- by Fanny and her predecessor refusing to move out, her awful nephews.
It was indeed a busy month, Meg. I'm hoping Jan and Feb will be quieter.
Indeed Lucy -- so situations so awful they were funny. I have one more of her books, The Pursuit of Love looking at me from Mt. TBR but I think I'll wait a bit with it.
And with that I'm officially closing this 2017 thread :)
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