Weekly Goal: Low-Key Decadence

Good morning.

The hours of Friday have spilled nicely in to Saturday. Because The Goldfinch was released in theaters yesterday, I traded my normal Friday post of books, dessert, and wine to talk about that.

But in my thinking, it just wouldn’t be the same without including some kind of post featuring my favorite trifecta, so here we are.

If not fancy, then decadent is the feeling of a Friday night. Saturdays on the other hand, especially the morning, feel more low key. So—can you be decadent and low key? Yes, you absolutely can, in fact that’s my preference. I am not a fancy person. Brontë has more fancy-ness in her front paws than I could ever have, even if I tried every day for the rest of my life. Her fancy-ness always seems to add a little something to the mix, so she too, is a key ingredient to many of my photos on here. She ups my game (if I have a game?) a bit, maybe she appeals to literary snobs, while my twist-off bottles of wine appeals to the simpletons?

The Book

The Hours by Michael Cunningham, like The Goldfinch (of yesterday’s post) was made in to a movie (interesting tidbit-both films feature Nicole Kidman), and both books won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction—1999 and 2013, respectively. If you are at all familiar with this blog, then you may know I have mixed feelings about books that win prizes. So it surprises me a little that for two days in a row I have posted two award-winning books. If you want to read the original post about my thoughts regarding Pulitzer winners, the link is below. If not, scroll past and move on, no judgement.

https://themostconstant.com/2019/08/14/a-diner-coffee-rings-and-the-pulitzer/

Unlike The Goldfinch, I have not read The Hours, but it is a book that has interested me for awhile, because part of its premise is the book in its entirety takes place over the course of one day. One of the characters is the lovely Virginia Woolf, who’s book, Mrs. Dalloway also takes place over the course of a day. The Hours, unlike TG is much shorter in length, 239 pages versus 760. I think it would be fun and quite fitting to read The Hours over the course of one day.

Below is the Amazon synopsis:

The Hours tells the story of three women: Virginia Woolf, beginning to write Mrs. Dalloway as she recuperates in a London suburb with her husband in 1923; Clarissa Vaughan, beloved friend of an acclaimed poet dying from AIDS, who in modern-day New York is planning a party in his honor; and Laura Brown, in a 1949 Los Angeles suburb, who slowly begins to feel the constraints of a perfect family and home. By the end of the novel, these three stories intertwine in remarkable ways, and finally come together in an act of subtle and haunting grace • Side note, the main character in Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway is named Clarissa.

Doesn’t it sound interesting? Not exactly a short story because of its length, but a story written over a short time period, while covering different short time periods, and can ultimately be read in a *short amount of time. Kind of a conundrum.

* Please excuse the excessive use of the word short in the above paragraph.

Ok, book covered, on to the dessert and wine.

The Dessert

My aim is to make something homemade every Friday to enjoy over the weekend, but that doesn’t always happen. This week was good, but was a little busier than normal. One of my go-to’s in an event such as this, because forgoing dessert is not an option, is #Lily’s chocolate. If you live in a larger city Lily’s is most likely readily available. I do not and up until recently I had to travel an hour or order online. It has finally made the trek from the olden days to 2019, probably in a covered wagon to a few of our local grocery stores—my heart was singing upon its arrival. There are several varieties, including milk chocolate, dark chocolate, with nuts, without, some with coconut, and even baking chips. The beauty of Lily’s are the ingredients and taste. You should know by now that I eat low carb, which massively cuts my sugar intake and therefore my craving. In addition, Lily’s uses stevia and erythritol and no maltitol. This is major because ingesting maltitol OFTEN causes EXPLOSIVE 🧨 reactions in the bathroom 🚽 (unless you are like my friend J, who has a stomach and intestines made at least partially of steel, which I am jealous of). This chocolate costs a little more than regular chocolate, but is well worth it in my opinion.

(Moving on from the Lily’s Public Service Announcement to wine)

The Wine

This week I am back to featuring #JamJar’s sweet Shiraz. It originated from South Africa and is one of my favorite things. It’s inexpensive, around $10-12, and can be found easily, and has *no need for a corkscrew.

*If that fact, and that I drink it over ice makes me a redneck, so be it.

This is how you open Jam Jar
A. in the wild
B. If you don’t have hands
C. If you are lazy (like Brontë)

Happy weekend, Bookworms!

Sincerely,

tmc

“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” – Jacqueline Kelly

Advertisements

August Reads & Ratings List

Hey there, bookworms.

It’s not hard for me to believe that it is September, but it is hard to think there are only four months left of 2019. Once October arrives, time goes so quick that Valentines’ 2020 crap will soon be on display at Walmart. It’s been Christmas at Hobby Lobby since May or June, so you should totally be ready for next year’s Valentine’s Day.

Many of you keep track of what and how much you read, which I am a big proponent of. Next year I am determined to not only count book totals, but also count pages read. Not only is it another measurement tool, but it’s a way books I don’t finish can be counted-at least in pages read. To any of you who keep track of what you read, do you have any new ideas that you are going to incorporate in the year to come? Please share if you do, I would love to hear them.

Below is my August wrap up:

1. Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (read on Kindle)

Favorite quotes:

“Doves fight as often as hawks.”

“Your eyes haunt my heart and it is still.”

“I wasn’t aware that words could hold so much, I didn’t know a sentence could be so full.”

2. Turbulence by David Szalay ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (read a physical copy, but it is loaned out at the moment)

3. Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

4. Seventh Heaven by Alice Hoffman ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (read on Kindle)

Favorite quote:

“He wasn’t certain he cared much about anything other than getting to a place where there were green fields, and where, in the middle of winter, the snow drifts would be deep enough to cut him off from the rest of the world.”

5. The River by Peter Heller ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️(this was a physical copy, but from the library, so it was returned before I took the picture.)

Favorite quote:

“Life was about being agile in spirit and adapting quickly.”

6. Inside the O’Brien’s by Lisa Genova ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Favorite quotes:

“The mind loves words.”

“We’re going to learn to live and die with HD (Huntington’s Disease) from you, Dad.”

7. The Life We Bury by Allen Eskins ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Although there were a few three star reads, I enjoyed every book I read. A three or three and half star rating (out of five) isn’t a bad rating in my opinion. Not every book is going to be a four or five star read, and that’s ok. Threes need to be read, they help navigate between the very good and very bad.

On a different note, I found a steal this weekend, that I just couldn’t resist.

My current Kindle case (on the left) is great, with the exception of some minor wear along the edges where the trim has come off. I wasn’t looking for a new case, but I found the one on the right for $5! It has a marbleized peachy-aqua-ish front and back cover. I’m slightly obsessed with cool, especially cool book stickers (if you couldn’t tell from the case on the left), so the one on the right looks a bit naked to me. But it’s so dang pretty, it would be hard to cover up-well maybe. Maybe just one or two stickers? I’m secretly twelve when it comes to putting stickers on cases and water bottles. My car is not covered in bumper stickers, I promise ( I’m not judging you if that’s your deal, just stating a fact about me).

I hope you have a nice rest of your evening and Labor Day tomorrow.

Sincerely,

tmc

“It is both relaxing and invigorating to occasionally set aside the worries of life, seek the company of a friendly book… from the reading of ‘good books’ there comes a richness of life that can be obtained in no other way.” – Gordon B. Hinckley

Duplicity Done Well & Not So Well

I wish I could be two people.

Mainly because I could hopefully read twice as many books. Other than that, no way-I don’t want twice as much laundry or dirty dishes, unless Me #2 gets a maid.

Ok-so what are your thoughts when an author publishes under a different name, ie. a pseudonym? Is it annoying, strange/fascinating, you love it, or who cares? I think it’s all of the above, or can be all of the above depending on the author in question.

J. K. Rowling is an author that does this little hat trick quite well in my opinion. I think it’s interesting she chose a male name for her other persona. Her Harry Potter books bear no resemblance to the Cormoran Strike books, yet both have a wonderful design. Looking at them I don’t feel one looks of lesser quality.

The only area that falls short for her (to me) was that random-feeling book that came out in between the two series several years back. Casual Vacancy was the title and Rowling was the author (not Galbraith). I think, using her name, but trying to write something non-Harry Potter-ish simply wasn’t going to work. I mean, let’s not push the buck. Harry got his own theme park after all. The world was taken by storm with the magic of HP. Rowling could’ve hid in a hole till kingdom come, which I probably would’ve done, but instead she wanted to keep writing, and thank goodness for that. And-Thank goodness she kept going after Casual Vacancy, which was kind of a casual casualty (in comparison to the HP series) in the whole scheme of things.

It definitely goes to show that just because someone writes something amazing, that not everything will be amazing. We all have off-days.

Or off-years, I suppose.

In comes Robert Galbraith. I will now refer to Rowling/Galbraith as a he, just to clarify. I think choosing a male was a wise choice mostly because of the gritty nature of the books and the characters they represent. Not that men are always grittier, but it was a completely opposite choice of genders, for a completely opposite, if you will, book. Not that just because it’s not Harry Potter makes it the opposite of HP, but do you get what I mean? Actually I’m sort of getting confused now, but just go with it.

I feel the Rowling/Galbraith pseudonym was a success. To me it feels like a natural separation.

On the other hand 🖐 ,

There are a few other authors that come to mind that I feel didn’t pull this off quite as well. I’m not talking numbers and books sold, but more that it got on my nerves a little.

The ones that come to mind:

1. Nora Roberts

Roberts writes as J. D. Robb for her Death series. She also writes as Jill March and Sarah Hardesty. Four people? That’s just a bunch, too many for me to keep track of. Also I’m not a big romance reader, so that could be another reason for my dislike in this case.

2. Stephen King

He wrote under the pseudonym Richard Bachman in the late 70s and 80s. King is a longtime favorite of mine, so this doesn’t get on my nerves like the above-mentioned author. I don’t know the story behind the Bachman use, and those books versus the King books all seem to be of the same genre more or less, so it confuses me a little. I’m sure there’s a good reason, after all this is Stephen King we’re talking about 😉

3. Anne Rice

She is a fan-freaking-tastic writer. She writes as Anne Rampling and also A. N. Roquelaure. I’ve not read anything under the Rampling name, but hold the phone on Roquelaure. Holy Sh%#, A. N. Roquelaure! The Sleeping Beauty books by her definitely did not have Beauty doing much sleeping, uh, or wearing clothes.

Back Story: I had always heard that Rice wrote under Roquelaure for her erotica SB books. I’ll be honest and say they peaked my interest under the guise of how racy could they be? I’m not an erotica fan, not against it, but I just am not drawn to it. I was drawn to these because it was Anne Rice. Rice does give you a large preface about why she wrote under Roquelaure. She knew her fan base consisted of those interested in witches, vampires, etc., and she wanted it to be clear to her readers that this was a different genre. And you can say that again. She was not kidding, when in the preface she said there was something racy on every page-that’s a statement you can take to. the. bank.

In addition I just didn’t find the storyline that went along with the Sleeping Beauty books to be anything worth reading. I wasn’t offended at all- I just thought it was really, really dumb. In fact I couldn’t even get through the first book. The only other book, that could be considered erotica that I’ve read are the Fifty Shades books. Fifty Shades are not high quality literature (which I knew going in), but hands down they are better than the Sleeping Beauty books, which completely surprised me. Fifty Shades had a story and characters that weren’t asinine, I cannot say the same for Sleeping Beauty.

Don’t do it, just don’t.

It’s safe to say that I prefer Anne Rice over A. N. Roquelaure.

Oh man, sorry for the rant if you took it as one.

On a lighter and more wholesome note I will close with an outtake picture. My cat who has been featured a bit on this blog is named Brontë. I have been taking pictures of her with books since she was a kitten (she is almost four years old), so she is used to me putting crazy things on her. That being said, I’m not above bribing her with treats. The picture below is of her licking her chops after eating a snack.

Happy Monday, Bookworms.

Sincerely,

tmc

“Read. As much as you can. As deeply and widely and nourishingly and ­irritatingly as you can. “

– A.L. Kennedy

Friday Night Always Looks Good To Me

• Thank you to #RandomHouse #partner for these books •

No matter what, if it’s Friday, then things are looking up. Friday is for putting your feet up, cracking open a book, a bottle of wine, and eating dessert. It’s not that the rest of the week is bad, it’s just that often it’s hectic. It’s nice to know there’s a smidge of extra brightness waiting, something a little extra to look forward to.

The four books pictured above look to be very interesting and as I look at them I just want to start them all at the same time. How do you choose what you read? Are you organized, as in you read in the order you receive books (not counting library books)? In theory I try to read that way, but many times I end up reading an article that discusses or reviews a book- then I skip to reading that book.

Here is a little about these books:

1. Diagnosis by Lisa Sanders. This book is the basis of a Netflix Original documentary series. Sanders was an advisor for the medical television show House, M.D. Sanders is a doctor as well and this book is about medical mysteries.

2. Inland is Téa Obrecht’s first book since The Tiger’s Wife. Although TTW was a huge international bestseller, it wasn’t a favorite of mine and didn’t finish reading it. I think Obrecht has talent, so I am excited to give her another shot. This book takes place in the 1890s in the Arizona Territory. It follows a frontier women who is awaiting the return of her husband and sons. One in search of water and the others who left after a bad argument.

3. The Perfect Wife by JP Delaney. This is about a woman who awakens in a daze and has no memory of how or why she is where she is. She doesn’t know her husband or son, or that she is an artist. She is told by her husband (who is a huge titan of the tech world in Silicon Valley) that she has been in a horrible accident and has been brought back due to an incredible technological breakthrough. But, she begins to doubt everything and doesn’t know if she can trust him.

4. Lost You by Haylen Beck ( Amazon Synopsis). Libby needs a break. Three years again her husband left her to raise their infant son Ethan alone as she struggled to launch her writing career. Now for the first time in years, things are looking up. She’s just sold her first novel, and she and Ethan are going on a much-needed vacation. Everything seems to be going their way, so why can’t she stop looking over her shoulder or panicking every time Ethan wanders out of view? Is it because of what happened when Ethan was born? Except Libby’s never told anyone the full story of what happened, and there’s no way anyone could find her and Ethan at a faraway resort . . . right? 

But three days into their vacation, Libby’s fears prove justified. In a moment of inattention, Ethan wanders into an elevator before Libby can reach him. When the elevator stops and the doors open, Ethan is gone. Hotel security scours the building and finds no trace of him, but when CCTV footage is found of an adult finding the child wandering alone and leading him away by the hand, the police are called in. The search intensifies, a lost child case turning into a possible abduction. Hours later, a child is seen with a woman stepping through an emergency exit. Libby and the police track the woman down and corner her, but she refuses to release Ethan. Asked who she is, the woman replies: I am his mother.

Don’t these sound good?!

I’m about to eat some dinner, then I plan to dive in to the good stuff! Happy Friday, Bookworms.

Sincerely,

tmc

“There is nothing more luxurious than eating while you read—unless it be reading while you eat.” – E. Nesbit

PS. If what you are eating is dessert, then it’s even more luxurious.

If Walls Could Talk

My introduction to Anita Shreve came many years ago when I picked up a copy of The Pilot’sWife. Something interesting about that book is that it is part of a quartet. I say the word quartet loosely because the only thing that joins these four books is a house. To me, that is so interesting. Think about how many people might live in a house in a fifty or hundred year time span. All of the living that must have taken place between those people and those walls. A house can be many things. Somewhere to lay your head or eat a meal, spend time with family, or a quiet spot to shut out the world. The walls of a house bear the remnants of tears and shouts, the expressions of joy and pain, as well as the times of heartbreak and celebration. The walls of house become the walls of a home when they continually stand steady through the many chapters of life being lived.

I believe the order to read the four ( if you want to read them as they would take place on a time line) is:

1. Fortune’s Rocks (one of my favorite books)

2. Sea Glass

3. The Pilot’s Wife

4. Body Surfing

I read that Shreve was somewhere in New England (if I’m not mistaken) and she went on a walk and came upon a house that sparked an idea. I just love that. I think a lot when I walk, (probably too much) maybe one day, thousands of miles from now I will come up with a good idea for a story!

Shreve has written many books beside the four mentioned above. I have read several of them. Usually they involve a love story of sorts. I hadn’t read a book of hers in a while when I came across this copy of Stella Bain.

Below is the synopsis from Amazon:

When an American woman, Stella Bain, is found suffering from severe shell shock in an exclusive garden in London, surgeon August Bridge and his wife selflessly agree to take her in.

A gesture of goodwill turns into something more as Bridge quickly develops a clinical interest in his houseguest. Stella had been working as a nurse’s aide near the front, but she can’t remember anything prior to four months earlier when she was found wounded on a French battlefield.

In a narrative that takes us from London to America and back again, Shreve has created an engrossing and wrenching tale about love and the meaning of memory, set against the haunting backdrop of a war that destroyed an entire generation.

Her books have always had a solemn quality about them (at least to me),which is a characteristic I know I am drawn to in stories. Her last book published was The Stars Are Fire and came out in 2017. Sadly, Anita Shreve passed away last year.

If you haven’t read anything by her, give Fortune’s Rocks, Body Surfing, or Testimony a shot.

Sincerely,

tmc

“The reading of all good books is like conversation with the finest (people) of the past centuries.”

– Descartes

If My Mouth Is Open, I’m Probably Talking About Books

It’s all about the books.

And when it comes to talking books with someone, it’s hard for me to close my mouth. I like all kinds of books, which you should’ve gathered by now if you follow this blog. I like e-reading and traditional and feel there is a place and need for both formats.

When it comes to traditional books there are so many beautiful editions. I admire many of the collections available, but the only editions I collect are the NYRB Classics. If you aren’t familiar with these, they are an expansive set of books distributed by the New York Review of Books. They are trade-size editions of fiction and non-fiction books. These are not the traditional classics you may be thinking of, but rather a large “eclectic mix of books from different eras and times,” according to nyrb.com. Each book features a cover that is a piece of art in its own right.

I was introduced to NYRB Classics several years ago and instantly fell in love with them. You can order them from their website, but often they are more than I want to spend, because I’m a cheapskate. You can find them on various used sites and I have purchased them that way. My favorite way is finding one tucked in to the shelves at a used book store. Their tell-tale, muted solid color spines are easy to spot when you know what you are looking for. Stumbling across one is somewhat rare (but I have found several), so it never fails to feel like a treasure when I do find one.

Books just amaze me. I love reading them and reading about them. I love learning about up and coming books as well finding old books stashed away. I will always own more books than I know what to do with, and yet I will continue to acquire more.

That’s just me. Take it or leave it 🙂

-tmc

“Of course anyone who truly loves books buys more of them than he or she can hope to read in one fleeting lifetime. A good book, resting unopened in its slot on a shelf, full of majestic potentiality, is the most comforting sort of intellectual wallpaper.”

– David Quammen

Are you thinking what I’m thinking?

My experience with books on philosophy is limited to what I read in Philosophy 101 a hundred years ago. I remember the class being interesting, but also confusing. Although I find some of it fascinating, my mind tangles a bit if I attempt to dwell on any of it. Philosophers like Aristotle, Socrates, Kant, Machiavelli, Sartre, and Nietzsche are some of the greats in this field and I’d be a fool if I claimed any large understanding of their teachings. I’m just not a philosophy student at heart.

Thinking about life and what drives each of forward each day is a philosophy and I think we all live by our own personalized set of rules, mantras, beliefs, etc. Most of these derive their roots from some of the greats listed above as well as others not mentioned. We are all a tangled combination of what we’ve been taught, who we’ve been taught by, and then simply the unique basics that reside in each one of us-our specific DNAs that are the physical maps of who we are. I’m an over thinker at heart, but thinking about all that confuses me, it’s a lot to take in.

I picked up Sophie’s World several years ago and still have not read it. Night Train to Lisbon is a recent find. When I first heard about NTTL I didn’t realize it had such a philosophical background, but when it arrived I was pleasantly surprised. Even if I disagree with a belief or philosophy that doesn’t always mean I am uninterested in learning about it or it’s origins. Another thing, I want a story. Plain and simple, I do not want just a philosophy lesson, that holds zero interest. I want to see what moves people. What propels them forward or even backwards, what makes them live introspectively? I want a bird’s eye view of theirlife. I want to be invisibly perched on their shoulder and live their story with them.

Each of these books is a story about the power of words. In Sophie, Sophie comes home to find two questions in her mailbox that push her to enroll in a philosophy correspondence course. She continues to receive this mystery mail. In NTTL, a teacher of the classical languages in Switzerland has a chance encounter that completely inspires him to question his whole life. I’ve begun reading this second book and so far it’s very interesting (not tedious) reading. My mind isn’t tangled up just yet. I’m taking it slow, in part because I don’t want to be confused, but also because I think there is much beauty to be discovered in these pages.

“I know nothing in the world that has as much power as a word. Sometimes I write one, and I look at it, until it begins to shine.”

-Emily Dickinson