Life’s About The Good Details, No Matter How Small

It’s the small, good details in life that make the annoying daily drudgery not quite as irksome.

It might be someone bringing you a cup of your favorite coffee or favorite piece of candy. It can be as simple as listening to music super loud in my car because I’m by myself to and from work. It’s an email from the library that I have a new book in or it’s my snooty cat sleepily soundly on my lap. Most often, it’s the idea that I will get to return to my slippers and book at some point in the day.

I think the things that make you happy best define who you are. It’s nothing you have to work at or learn, it’s just innate. You love what you love. There’s no explaining it, it is what it is.

What are your favorites? What thoughts make your heart sing and your soul happy?

Of course anything or thought book-related makes me glad. I love getting book recommendation or book deal emails. I love getting to talk books with a fellow bookworm or receiving books through snail-mail. I love the idea that there will always be a supply of books bigger than I can read (although it kind of makes me sad too because I want to read all of the good ones, so it’s a catch-22).

This week on themostconstant is all about

The whole idea around this theme started with the thought, what books would I bring on a deserted island?

My answer: big books

My first two choices have been: The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne and Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy.

Speaking of big books, what is the longest book you’ve read? As I write this I’m trying to think of the longest book I’ve read. I’ll keep thinking, maybe by the end of this post I’ll have an answer for you.

For today’s post, the next big book I would bring is, The Man Who Loved Children by Christina Stead, which comes in at 567 pages.

There’s a small story behind this choice.

A few years ago I came across this book in a used book store. I grabbed it and read the back. It sounded interesting and although it was only a dollar, I didn’t buy it.

Side thought: Do you ever find that being frugal makes you even more frugal? Meaning, when a book is a dollar, you still pass it up (like the example above) Or, you find a fantastic price on something, but then the shipping price pisses you off so you don’t buy it. This is me all the time.

Ok, back to the book story. So I passed up The Man Who Loved Children that day and went home. By the way, this whole story took place in December. This matters because about a week after passing it up a guy, who has excellent taste in books was talking about his favorite book of the year. And if you haven’t guessed, it was: The Man Who Loved Children by Christina Stead.

My last post talked about my lack of timing and this post is all about almost perfect timing. After this was said to be his favorite book of the year I high-tailed it back to the used book shop and snatched that book up.

If you read a lot, then saying a particular book is your favorite of the entire year means that book is probably pretty incredible. Below is the Amazon synopsis:

• In a country crippled by the Great Depression, Sam and Henny Pollit have too much—too much contempt for one another, too many children, too much strain under endless obligation. Flush with ego and chilling charisma, Sam torments and manipulates his children in an esoteric world of his own imagining. Henny looks on desperately, all too aware of the madness at the root of her husband’s behavior. And Louie, the damaged, precocious adolescent girl at the center of their clashes, is the “ugly duckling” whose struggle will transfix contemporary readers. Today, it stands as a masterpiece of dysfunctional family life [ and reads like a Depression-era The Glass Castle ] •

To answer my question from earlier:

Q: What is the longest book I’ve read?

A: The most recent long book that I can think of (which was a few years back) is 11/22/63 by Stephen King, coming in at 880 pages. It’s a great story and you should read it if you get the chance to.

We are almost to Friday, which is the best day of the week. I have one more big book to bring to you tomorrow to finish out this week’s theme. Along with the book will be a drink and a dessert-because that’s what Friday’s are all about on this blog- the good details of life 📚🍷🍰

“Reading—even browsing—an old book can yield sustenance denied by a database search.” -James Gleick

“Reading is departure and arrival.” -Terri Guillemets

It All Comes Down To Timing & Mine Is Nonexistent This Week

Baby, it’s cold outside. #thedeanmartinversion

But really, it is cold and snowy outside. It would’ve been the perfect day to sit at home and read under the covers. And if you got to do that (🍮Julie 📚), I’m totally envious.

My reading time has been so infrequent over the last few days.

☝️This sums up my thoughts perfectly ☝️

Last night I mentioned the theme for this week is:

Considering that I have had next to no reading time, it’s somewhat ironic that I chose “big books”. If I can’t seem to get any reading time, how am I ever going to finish any book, let alone a “big” book?!

Oh well, such is life.

Sometimes you have to just keep on, keeping on. So, I’ll continue to talk books, even if I’m barely getting to read them. My heart is in it, I promise 📚

So, Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy is another big book that I’ve had on my big book list for too long. Have you read this? Did you love it, hate it-tell me!

Even if you’ve not read AK, you’ve at least heard of this book, right? Because I’ve not read this, I will give you the Amazon synopsis:

Anna Karenina tells of the doomed love affair between the sensuous and rebellious Anna and the dashing officer, Count Vronsky. Tragedy unfolds as Anna rejects her passionless marriage and thereby exposes herself to the hypocrisies of society. Set against a vast and richly textured canvas of nineteenth-century Russia, the novel’s seven major characters create a dynamic imbalance, playing out the contrasts of city and country life and all the variations on love and family happiness •

Although I haven’t read this book, I’ve always loved the opening line:

“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way” -Leo Tolstoy

It’s one of those classic lines that sticks with you. Or, it has with me anyway.

If you haven’t read AK, do you want to? I don’t have a desire to read a ton of classics. However, there are definitely a handful that come to mind that I do want to read. Sometimes I think what holds me back with the classic genre is the writing style, which equates to the speaking style of the characters. Typically it’s more formal, and at times a bit antiquated. I’m not against it at all, reading a wide scope of genres definitely enhances the mind, but at the same time, they don’t read as quickly. This may sound horrible, but I don’t always have the patience for them. Any thoughts, does this make me horribly shallow?

On that note, I’m going to close for the night. Sweet dreams, my dears.

“I’ve always loved you, and when you love someone, you love the whole person, just as he or she is, and not as you would like them to be.” – Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

Big Books And Deserted Islands

Are you ever somewhere and wish you were somewhere else? It doesn’t always have to be that you are somewhere bad, but rather that you’d simply rather be somewhere else.

Since I feel like I overcomplicated what I was trying to say, I’ll say it in layman’s terms:

I’d. Always. Rather. Be. In. A. Cozy. Spot. Reading.

There, no there’s no confusion about what I meant to say.

So, aside from that thought, other thoughts or scenarios associated with reading sometimes pop into my head.

One such one:

If I was going to be stuck on an island, what books would I bring?

I don’t know the duration of being stuck or any other specifics, only that I’d have to pick a few books (and no Kindle-because there’d be no way to charge it once it finally died).

Right off the top of my head I’m not sure what books I’d bring. But-I do know that I’d bring big (long) books. I’d want them to last-in the event I’m stuck for a good while.

This got me thinking more and that produced a theme for this week:

This week will be about books that I’ve been wanting to read that are on the long side. Books that I push to the side because I feel their length is, well, lengthy.

There’s something about a book that steps over the 4-500 or so page mark. I can’t say the physical size is hard to hold, because often times it’s on my Kindle, although all the books this week are in traditional editions. For some reason it’s easier for me to commit to three 300 page books versus one 900 page book.

Any thoughts? Agree, disagree?

The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne is the first long book I would bring on my island stay. Every time I come across this book, I find myself thinking about how much I love this title. There’s something about hearts, invisible, and furies that appeals to me. As in, we are all walking around with these huge things or thoughts in our hearts, that mean so much, yet they are invisible to the multitude of people we encounter every day. We all just go about doing the things that need to be done in order to keep life going in a somewhat orderly fashion, meanwhile we have these (at times) raging or intense things that we think about at the same time, but kind of brush them aside for the sake of everything else.

If you aren’t familiar with John Boyne, he is also the author of The Boy in Striped Pajamas.

The Heart’s Invisible Furies was published in 2017 to much acclaim. I’ve flipped open and read a few pages and enjoyed what I read, but then put it aside for something a little shorter. It’s not longest “big book” out there by any means, coming in at 567 pages, but it is still on the long side. I’ve only heard great things about this book. Most recently, my neighbor’s granddaughter, who is a huge bookworm (Hi, Katie) was raving about this book.

Below is the Amazon synopsis:

• Cyril Avery is not a real Avery — or at least, that’s what his adoptive parents tell him. And he never will be. But if he isn’t a real Avery, then who is he?

Born out of wedlock to a teenage girl cast out from her rural Irish community and adopted by a well-to-do if eccentric Dublin couple via the intervention of a hunchbacked Redemptorist nun, Cyril is adrift in the world, anchored only tenuously by his heartfelt friendship with the infinitely more glamourous and dangerous Julian Woodbead. At the mercy of fortune and coincidence, he will spend a lifetime coming to know himself and where he came from – and over his many years, will struggle to discover an identity, a home, a country, and much more •

I know many of you have probably read this book. What do you think? Should it get pushed to my short-short list vs. just the short list?

“It’s not easy losing someone,” she said. “It never goes away, does it?” “The Phantom Pain, they call it,” I said. “ -John Boyne, The Heart’s Invisible Furies

Fit For A King

Happy Halloween Bookworms 🎃

This week’s theme of:

continues tonight with a picture featuring the majority of my collection. I do have a few on my Kindle that are not pictured.

I haven’t read all of these, but I do plan to.

Collections are interesting things, don’t you think? I can’t remember how old I was when I started collecting his books, it feels like something that’s just always been. Easily, a collection can turn in to a dust-collecting pile that belongs on an episode of Hoarders, if you don’t keep it in check. I’m probably like two books away from claiming that status.

My prize-possession (money-wise) in this photo is the copy of Cujo on the bottom, right stack. It’s a first edition that I totally happened upon in a used book store for $6! It’s worth between $150-$200, isn’t that crazy?! I have no interest in selling it, just a fun fact.

Ever since then I’ve kept my eye out for other first editions of his books, most specifically, The Stand.

Five years ago my husband and I visited the state of Maine. It’s one of my most favorite places that I’ve ever been. During our trip, we drove to Bangor, which is where SK has a home. We parked and just walked down his street. While being a large home, there was nothing pretentious about it or the area, which I loved. No crazy gates or exclusive neighborhoods. Just a regular (large) house on a regular street.

Two or three years ago I missed hearing him speak in Nashville by one day! I think that would’ve been such a cool experience, because he doesn’t do many interviews.

I find him and his family of writers incredibly interesting. A few years ago I came across a great interview of him, his wife, and his children all sitting around a table at home. I remember reading it and feeling like, “a fly on the wall,” because it had sort of an intimate/cozy feel to it. What a cool thing it would be to sit around their dinner table and chat. If I can find the interview, I will share the link in tomorrow’s post.

I’m not sure what my favorite books by him are, but a few off the top of my head are:

Misery

• Full Dark No Stars

• 11/22/63

Do you have a favorite book by Stephen King? Please share!

More tomorrow, my dears!

“Books are the perfect entertainment: no commercials, no batteries, hours of enjoyment for each dollar spent. What I wonder is why everybody doesn’t carry a book around for those inevitable dead spots in life.” -Stephen King

“Good books don’t give up all their secrets at once.“ -Stephen King

One of my all-time favorites:

“Some birds are not meant to be caged, that’s all. Their feathers are too bright, their songs too sweet and wild. So you let them go, or when you open the cage to feed them they somehow fly out past you. And the part of you that knows it was wrong to imprison them in the first place rejoices, but still, the place where you live is that much more drab and empty for their departure.” -Stephen King

Livin’ On The Edge

Right here, right now I am sitting on bleachers not watching the girls basketball team play.

I am instead writing this blog post. We are here to watch my youngest son play and his game hasn’t started, so I’m trying to see how much I can get accomplished before his team is up.

Side note: There are some obnoxious women seated to my right who are hollering like it’s the NBA, or the WNBA. Anyone who knows me, knows I don’t randomly scream out at sports teams (in part because I don’t know all of the specific calls, etc). I will cheer for my children or others that I know, but I don’t just scream out during the game. A random, “ Bull crap!” was just yelled out. Y’all, it’s fifth grade. It’s not offensive or anything, just red-neck as all get out.

Back to talking books.

Tonight is the second post of October’s last theme week of:

Last night started us off with, Misery, which is near and dear to my heart because it’s such a great storyline.

Before I talk about tonight’s book, I have a question for you:

If you could be two people, not split personalities, but lead two different lives, would you live one different than the other? Or would your “two” people be more or less the same?

Weird question, I know. I’m not sure what I would do. I’m not itching to go on a crime-spree or anything of that nature, but I do think I would do things different in one life versus another. Maybe travel the world or something like that? The caveat being, one life knows about the other. If you had children (as I do), could you not have them, but know you do in the other life, or have another whole family altogether? It kind of makes my mind tangle up just thinking about it all.

The Dark Half by Stephen King is about one such story. The Amazon synopsis is below:

• Thad Beaumont is a writer, and for a dozen years he has secretly published violent bestsellers under the name of George Stark. But Thad is a healthier and happier man now, the father of infant twins, and starting to write as himself again. He no longer needs George Stark and so, with nationwide publicity, the pseudonym is retired. But George Stark won’t go willingly.

And now Thad would like to say he is innocent. He’d like to say he has nothing to do with the twisted imagination that produced his bestselling novels. He’d like to say he has nothing to do with the series of monstrous murders that keep coming closer to his home. But how can Thad deny the ultimate embodiment of evil that goes by the name he gave it-and signs its crimes with Thad’s bloody fingerprints? •

Now what? I think it sounds really interesting. Since it’s SK, you know he’ll throw in some twists you never saw coming (right, Julie?). His talent with words can make you feel crazy when you’d swear you are most definitely sane. When a writer can can make you feel, you know you’re in the midst of true talent.

Besides being a fan, another reason I chose to feature SK is because if someone hasn’t read him before, they usually have a strong opinion. As in, “not interested in horror,” or “he’s just not my thing.” The thing is, if you haven’t tried something, how do you know? His books have always made me think, which is one of the main reasons I keep coming back. They definitely have a creep element, which I also love-and you may not. I will say, despite that, his books have never scared me.

What I’m trying to say in all of this jibber-jabber is this: be open to giving a new-to-you genre or author a chance. Even if it’s not SK, give someone new a chance. Live on the edge, you might just discover a whole new world opening in front of your eyes.

“But writers INVITE ghosts, maybe; along with actors and
artists, they are the only totally accepted mediums of our society. They make worlds that never
were, populate them with people who never existed, and then invite us to join them in their
fantasies. And we do it, don’t we? Yes. We PAY to do it.” -Stephen King, The Dark Half

“…he was after all, a novelist…and a novelist was simply a fellow who got paid to tell lies. The bigger the lies, the better the pay.” -Stephen King, The Dark Half

PS. It’s National Cat Day or so I’ve heard, so Brontë, as well as her bony dark half were such convenient fits for tonight’s post 🐈

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

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