September Wrap-Up & An October Preview

September and October are two of my favorite months.

It’s still a little warmer than I’d like it to be, but the sky is beautiful and the mornings are beginning to cool, so that’s a start. The older I get, the more I find myself embracing the colder weather. I feel like this is the opposite of how everyone else feels, but oh well. I think it’s mostly because I’m obsessed with sweaters and sweatshirts.

Although I feel like I’ve read a lot this month, I’ve only finished a total of five books. In just the last week and a half, including last night, I received five new books from Overdrive! Three are new releases, so if I don’t get to them this time around I know my wait is going to be crazy long when I put them on hold again-ugh.

The 5 from Overdrive:

1. The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

2. The Institute by Stephen King

3. Chances Are by Richard Russo

4. My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh (I put this book on hold back in the spring- my library only has 1 or 2 digital copies of it, so it took FOREVER.)

5. The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware (this is the third time I have put this book on hold!!)

I want to read them all right now!

Below is my September wrap-up & ratings:

1. Doctor Broad by Deborah Roberts. Non-fiction. This was a digital ARC from #Netgalley. ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Below is the Amazon synopsis:

• For decades, starting in the 1950s, Raymond Patriarca ran the New England Mafia out of a storefront in Providence, Rhode Island. By 1980 he was seventy-two years old, and suffering from diabetes and heart disease. One night in December of that year his life intersected with that of Dr. Barbara Roberts, a thirty-six-year old single mother of three, who was the first female cardiologist to practice in Rhode Island. Asked by Raymond’s family to check on him after he was arrested on capital charges, Barbara—a naive Alice in Wonderland—entered a looking-glass world populated by pitfalls, moral ambiguities and dangers for which her devout upbringing had not prepared her. How did a former Catholic schoolgirl from a working-class family become the physician and defender of one Mafioso, and the mistress of another? How did her children handle these scandalous associations and the resulting hostile publicity—and what were the reactions of their fathers?
Expanding on the story first told in the popular Crimetown podcast, this memoir is a tale of motherhood, political activism, controversy, heartbreak and survival; it traces one woman’s trajectory against the backdrop of America’s 20th century upheavals •

I liked this book and it had a very interesting storyline. The only aspect that got on my nerves was the constant mentioning of Dr. Roberts’ political activism (she is a very staunch feminist). I have no problems with what she chose to get political about, it just seemed like a major portion of the book kept coming back to that. It’s always interesting to read about people who have different beliefs and it did pertain to the story somewhat, but I was more interested in the sections concerning her and her care of Raymond Patriarca.

2. Educated by Tara Westover. Non-Fiction. This was my bookclub September selection. I read a hard copy edition and loaned my copy out, so it didn’t make the picture. We had some interesting discussions about this book at our meeting this past Friday. I was very surprised that it wasn’t unanimously loved-because everyone seems to love this book. I liked it, but enjoyed (books in a similar vein) The Glass Castle by Janette Walls and Hillbilly Elegy by J. D. Vance more so. ⭐️⭐️⭐️& 1/2

3. The Giver by Lois Lowery. Fiction. I read this on my Kindle. This book was assigned reading for my older son. I have wanted to read this for awhile and had bought a really cheap e-copy a few years back. My son and I ended up liking it so well that I ordered us each (and it’s SO pretty) a hardback book that has the entire quartet inside. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

4. My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh. Fiction. This was an e-copy from Overdrive. It was one of the new ones mentioned above. I read Eileen by this author, which was strange but good. This book was strange and not as good in my opinion. I read it in two days, so it was a fast read, but I’m not sure I recommend it. It was just interesting enough to keep the pages turning, but the premise was strange and not all that believable. I guess because I liked the weirdness of Eileen I stuck with it. ⭐️⭐️& 1/2 .

The Amazon synopsis is below:

• Our narrator should be happy, shouldn’t she? She’s young, thin, pretty, a recent Columbia graduate, works an easy job at a hip art gallery, lives in an apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan paid for, like the rest of her needs, by her inheritance. But there is a dark and vacuous hole in her heart, and it isn’t just the loss of her parents, or the way her Wall Street boyfriend treats her, or her sadomasochistic relationship with her best friend, Reva. It’s the year 2000 in a city aglitter with wealth and possibility; what could be so terribly wrong?

My Year of Rest and Relaxation is a powerful answer to that question. Through the story of a year spent under the influence of a truly mad combination of drugs designed to heal our heroine from her alienation from this world. Both tender and blackly funny, merciless and compassionate, it is a showcase for the gifts of one of our major writers working at the height of her powers •

5. Empire Falls by Richard Russo. Fiction. This was my favorite of the month and a Pulitzer Prize winner to boot. I started this a few weeks ago, maybe even in August, it’s almost 500 pages, so definitely a longer read. As much as I loved it, I’m not sure I would recommend it to everyone and here’s why. This story follows a small, mostly blue-collar town in Maine that was once centered around a large textile factory. When it closed, the town kind of closed with it. This story follows the people that have lived there before and after the closing. It’s basically a story about life. Small-town, the gossip, not a whole lot going on, yet somebody is always doing something. I think you either like these types of stories or think they are really boring. I just happen to be one that really likes them. Russo also wrote Nobody’s Fool (which is a great movie and I had no idea it was a novel when I watched it), which is another story about small-town life. Russo has such a way of capturing and writing authentic sounding scenes and dialogue. It’s actually incredible how real every character feels and sounds. It sort of reminds me of the movie (if it were a book), Grumpy Old Men. Definitely a similar feel. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️&1/2.

Now that September is almost over, I am really excited for a few posts I have in mind for October.

Starting tomorrow and through Friday I am going to be posting some books that fall under a category called:

I don’t think these books will be at all what you think. So, check back tomorrow if I’ve peaked your interest!

“Was anything in the world truer than that intuitive leap of the heart?” -Richard Russo, Empire Falls

(This was a favorite quote I came across while reading).

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A Feast Fit For A Bookworm

Are you all getting tired of me professing my endless love of Friday ? I hope not, because it’s out of my control. So, if you decide to stick with me and this blog, you’re stuck with my gushing about Fridays- but only on Friday.

Friday is for favorite things and posting about them. My favorite things are books, dessert, and wine. Not in any specific order of importance, but all at one time. Sort of like a miniature feast. So let’s get the feast started.

The Book

I came across How to Disappear by Akiko Busch in one of the various book review publications or emails I receive. The title in its entirety is, How to Disappear- Notes on Invisibility in a time of Transparency. It’s not a long book, coming in at exactly 200 pages.

I would be finished with it if I wasn’t putting ‘Note Pals’ on every other line. There are so many statements, ideas, and phrases that ring true to me.

The main idea of this book being many people are so concerned with image consciousness, branding themselves, and just simply putting themselves and their lives on display. Busch argues against this notion saying, “The impulse to escape notice is not about complacent isolation or senseless conformity, but about maintaining identity, propriety, autonomy, and voice. It is not about retreating from the digital world but about finding some genuine alternative to a life of perpetual display.”

Yes, yes, and yes.

Another section talks about how children today do not shy away from the camera as much, and actually primp a little in their awareness of one being present. Busch alludes this to the fact that children in today’s culture came straight from the womb being photographed and posted. Because of this, children and teenagers associate, “being unseen as negative,” says Busch.

Since I am only halfway through, below is the Amazon synopsis:

How to Disappear is a unique and exhilarating accomplishment, overturning the dangerous modern assumption that somehow fame and visibility equate to success and happiness. Busch presents a field guide to invisibility, reacquainting us with the merits of remaining inconspicuous, and finding genuine alternatives to a life of perpetual exposure. Accessing timeless truths in order to speak to our most urgent contemporary problems, she inspires us to develop a deeper appreciation for personal privacy in a vast and intrusive world •

For being such a short book it packs quite a punch and I haven’t even finished it. The copy I am reading is from the library, but since I have sticky-noted so many pages, I think I need my own copy. I recommend this book if you feel annoyed and/or overwhelmed with the constant ridiculousness of this social media-obsessed world we unfortunately live in. This book does not berate or insult, but rather provides an introspective view on the idea that, “the human species is finding a renewed interest in passing unnoticed.” So despite this attention-crazed world, there is a small, growing percentage of people who are taking a step back from it all. By taking a step back, much beauty is realized. The last paragraph of the introduction ends with a quote from ceramic artist Eva Zeisel. She was asked how you make something beautiful. Her response was, “You just have to get out of the way.”

The Dessert

Tonight’s dessert is the Low-Carb Reese’s Cup. The only thing I did different from the other times I posted was I added larger walnut pieces to the peanut butter fudge part. I didn’t measure, but rather just tossed a handful in the mixture before I froze them. Below is the link to the post that features this recipe:

https://themostconstant.com/2019/08/31/something-sweet-something-devine-something-with-pages-all-three-might-be-mine-but-id-share/

The Wine

This is a Pinot Noir from the Sonoma Vally in California. I fully admit I bought it because the name, Imagery, reminded me a lot of the mostly image-obsessed world we live in. Hopefully this wine doesn’t leave the same bitter aftertaste that social media usually does. In the end, I’ll take my chances on a new bottle of wine over social media any day of the year, but that’s just me.

Hope your weekend is wonderful.

Cheers.

“& if the world comes knockin’, tell em’ I’m not home.” – E. Church

Stars, Stripes, & A Life Undone

Last fall I was browsing the new release section at the library when I came across Red White Blue by Lea Carpenter. The simple cover, deckled page edges, and small size immediately grabbed my attention. I had never heard of Carpenter, but since I am quite impulsive when it comes to books, I checked it out that day and started reading it that evening.

Lea Carpenter is originally from Delaware and is the mother of two boys. Her alma mater is both Harvard and Princeton. She has written two books, Eleven Days and Red White Blue, as well as one movie, Mile 22. She has worked at the New York Public Library, Esquire, The Paris Review, JFK Jr.’s magazine, George, and she was also a founding editor of Francis Ford Coppola’s literary magazine, Zoetrope. Currently she lives in Manhattan. Most of this information I found on Wikipedia. Something else I found interesting was that a friend dared her to write 10,000 words by May of 2011. This is how her first novel, Eleven Days came to be.

Eleven Days is the story of single mother, Sara and her son, Jason. Instead of attending Harvard, Jason ends up being accepting to the Naval Academy. Several years later Jason goes missing during a special forces op on the same night as the Osama Bin Laden raid. As the search for her son continues Sara reexamines her life and the relationship between her and her son.

Red White Blue follows the story of a CIA case agent and a women named Anna. The afternoon before Anna’s wedding, her father, Noel is killed in a skiing accident. It is after his passing that Anna uncovers secrets about her father’s life. Then several months later while on a belated honeymoon, Anna meets a stranger who used work with her father. This meeting combined with everything else that begins to come to light not only places strain on her marriage, but also has Anna questioning her father’s life and their relationship.

Carpenter’s novels are both incredibly atmospheric. I did not find out about Eleven Days until after I read RWB, but they can be read in any order, as they are stand-alones. Her stories have a quiet, yet solemn strength about them. These books read fast, yet their haunting quality seems to demand they be read slowly and, like a wonderful glass of wine, savored.

Occasionally I draw and paint book covers. As I mentioned, I was immediately drawn to these, so I knew I wanted to paint them.

Happy Labor Day, Bookworms.

Sincerely,

tmc

“I do not read a book; I hold a conversation with the author.” – Elbert Hubbard

Something Sweet, Something Devine, Something With Pages-All Three Might Be Mine (But I’d Share).

Sometimes it feels like it takes an act of Congress for Friday to arrive, but lo and behold,

it’s here.

As I write this post, I have already had a glass of wine and some delicious desserts. The reading is soon to commence along with a second glass of wine.

Educated by Tara Westover is the September book for my bookclub. I haven’t actually started reading it yet, but plan to by Sunday. I have one or two books that I’m hoping to finish by tomorrow so I can count them in my August total.

I am really excited to start reading Educated. I have only heard amazing things about it. Regarding hard-scrabble-ish childhoods, I have read Hillbilly Elegy by J. D. Vance and The Glass Castle by Janette Walls (I recommend them both). I’m sure you all have read (or at least heard of) Educated, but I’m still going to post the Amazon synopsis-because that’s just what I do when I haven’t read a book I’m talking about on this blog.

Amazon synopsis:

• Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, Tara Westover was 17 the first time she set foot in a classroom. Her family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education and no one to intervene when one of Tara’s older brothers became violent. When another brother got himself into college, Tara decided to try a new kind of life. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge University. Only then would she wonder if she’d traveled too far, if there was still a way home •

Side note, these last few days have been absolutely beautiful, weather-wise. Summer used to be my favorite season, but Fall replaced it as my number one several years ago. Nothing beats the Fall air. That tell-tale crispness has been evident for the last two days and it makes me so happy. I cannot wait to live in sweaters and leggings.

Anyway, back to the books. I hope you all have had a productive month, both reading-wise and otherwise.

Since my Friday posts always feature drinks and desserts, I thought I’d post a recipe of one of my very favorites. It’s also amazingly easy.

I have made these in a pinch. As in, we were celebrating my neighbor’s 54th wedding anniversary and I told them during dinner that I had wine and dessert for them at our house (we were at a restaurant). We had driven separately and they followed us home and I quickly threw these together. They are that simple, I promise.

I hope you all have a great Friday night.

Sincerely,

tmc

“I can feel infinitely alive curled up on the sofa reading a book.”

– Benedict Cumberbatch

Something Old, Something New

Hey Bookworms, happy almost Friday.

This is the second installment of Something Old, Something New.

Two books. Something I’ve read (old) and something I haven’t (new).

I have way too many books. I’m not complaining at all, simply stating a fact. I only keep what I’ve read if I really loved it. So if I loved it, I want to share with you. And, since I’m continuously acquiring new books, I want to share those as well.

I read Watch Me Disappear by Janelle Brown about two years ago. The story of Billie Flanagan, her husband Jonathan, and their teenage daughter, Olive has stayed with me. Billie, who is an avid hiker goes on a solo hike one day and doesn’t return, only her shattered cellphone is found.

Jonathan begins to drink more in the aftermath of her disappearance, which only adds to the strain of the relationship with his daughter. As Jonathan takes on a project of writing a loving memoir about his marriage, he begins to uncover secrets from Billie’s past. At the same time Olive starts having visions of her mother being alive.

This book allows many questions to arise. How well do you know the people closest to you? Is the relationship you have real? How does being a wife and a mother define a person?

This was the first book that really allowed me to view motherhood from the atypical vantage of not letting and/or wanting it to consume you. Some women are born to be mothers, some are not, and many drift somewhere in the middle. Children are all consuming for awhile and in a good way, but after awhile it’s easy to lose sight of the women who existed before her children did. The character of Billie Flanagan is complex, I guess as we all are. This story gives you the privilege of being able to see Billie from her view, her husband’s, and also Olive’s.

There is a line that I can quote from this book to this day:

“Leave and they hate you, die, and they love you forever.” -Billie Flanagan

This story has you guessing until the very. last. page. Read it.

I’ve made this statement time and again:

I want to like the books Ian McEwan writes. I’ve tried Atonement a few times and couldn’t get in to it. I’ve tried this, On Chesil Beach, and I am determined to like it. First off, the size of the book combined with the cover design, silently scream of its elegant beauty. I realize this has nothing to do with the story inside, but it should. That being said, the few times I have tried reading it, it’s kind of gone stale. I’ve chalked it up to bad timing.

Here is the Amazon synopsis:

• It is 1962, and Florence and Edward are celebrating their wedding in a hotel on the Dorset coast. Yet as they dine, the expectation of their marital duties become overwhelming. Unbeknownst to them both, the decisions they make this night will resonate throughout their lives. With exquisite prose, Ian McEwan creates in On Chesil Beach a story of lives transformed by a gesture not made or a word not spoken •

What do you think? Have you read it? Are you a big McEwan fan? I also have The Children Act on my shelf, but it’s also unread. His last two novels, Nutshell and Machines Like Me also intrigue me, but it’s like I have a mental block when it comes to reading his books. Why?

Are there authors that you want to read and like, but ultimately struggle with? Tell me I’m not alone!

Side note, I am still reading Lonesome Dove. Since I am reading a physical copy and it’s so large, it stays on my nightstand. It’s not a book that gets read when I have a spare five minutes standing in line, because it’s not lugged around in my purse. So if you are anti-e-reading or if you’ve never considered it, this is one of the instances it comes in handy to have an e-reader of some sort. Just a thought 🙂

Sincerely,

tmc

“Books are no more threatened by Kindle than stairs by elevators.” -&Stephen Fry

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.

I Think You’ll Find That Most Readers Are In Fact, Happy Readers

Not surprisingly many of my favorite things are book-related. Cute book totes, bookmarks, and the publication The Happy Reader (published by Penguin Random House) are prime examples.

THR is a quarterly literary magazine that has become a fast favorite of mine over the years. It travels from the UK to my mailbox in a smart envelope that makes me smile when it peeks out from the mail stack.

Every issue of THR is divided in to two parts. Part one features an in depth interview with who ever graces the cover.

The summer issue features the actor Owen Wilson. Included in part one is a section titled Snippets, which is two pages of reading/book related news from all over the globe. Sometimes it is a funny blurb, or a death of a prominent person, or some other interesting factoid. There are no ads, just beautiful matte pages filled with words to read and photography to look at.

Part two features The Book of the Season, which is always mentioned in the previous issue (on the last page), giving you three months to read it before the next THR arrives. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius is this issues BOTS, which was listed at the end of the spring 2019 magazine. The BOTS is discussed and is basically the other half of the publication, like a mini-bookclub. There are other features in part two that tie together nicely with the magazine as a whole.

Another item that makes my heart sing are the bookmarks. Each issue has a lovely card stock bookmark tucked just inside the cover. Sometimes a quote is featured on one side, with an artsy print on the other. As you can see, like the magazine itself- I also hold on to the beautiful bookmarks.

As much as I love this magazine, I don’t tear through it. Not sure if it’s because I want to savor it a bit since there are only four issues a year, or if it reminds more of a book than a traditional magazine. Meaning, with a regular-type magazine I sort of flip through, maybe only really giving my attention to a few areas, but with a book and also THR, I read every page. Years ago I received several magazine subscriptions. Over time I realized they were stacking up unread because I was devoting my precious reading time to books. I canceled the subscriptions to all but one, which even though I genuinely like it, I still don’t read it on the same level as THR. THR is also the perfect size. It reminds me of a slightly larger (not in page amount) trade paper back book, easy to tuck in a bag or purse. Another cool thing, the only price you pay is shipping. I think each magazine comes out to $5-6. That price is probably different depending on where you live. My subscription just comes out of my account four times a year. THR can be bought individually (though it may cost more that way), by the year, or ongoing subscription (what I have). Go to http://www.thehappyreader.com to find out more specifics or to order.

I think THR would make a great gift for any bookworm you may know. As you can see, they don’t look clutter-y, just stylish as they lay out in all of their literary glory.

Sincerely,

tmc

“Books are not made for furniture, but there is nothing else that so beautifully furnishes a house.”

– Henry Ward Beecher