Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Pages From the Past: My 2003 Reading Journal

Over the past several months I've been sharing highlights from my old reading journal. I hope these posts have been as enjoyable for you as the memories are for me. Opening my journal to 2003, I found...

My Favorite Books Read in 2003

Independent People by Haldor Laxness
Read with an online book group. This Icelandic saga surely helped the author win a Nobel Prize.

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
This is the edition which opened my eyes to the importance of translation.

The Hours by Michael Cunningham
I've reread this least once since 2003 and still love it.

The Sea, The Sea by Iris Murdoch
Has it really been 12 years since I read this book? Keep meaning to read more Murdoch...

East of Eden by John Steinbeck
I'm pretty sure Oprah prompted me to reread this all-time favorite.

I must have started sharing books with my oldest daughter around this time. She loved it, too.

The Secret History by Donna Tart
Another book I shared with my oldest daughter, although she read it several years later.  The Goldfinch is still waiting on my kindle...

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
Who knew Jane had a sense of humor?

Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
Not my favorite Wharton, but still enjoyable.

One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus
A  hit with the book club, too.

Favorite Audiobook

Clara Callan by Richard B. Wright
narrated by Anne Twomey and Joanna P. Adler
Possibly my first experience with multi-narrator productions. I loved everything about this book!

Notable Noniction


This lead to a very good book club discussion.

Have you read any of these books? What were you reading in 2003?

More Pages from the Past :

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Weekly Update: November 22, 2015

Hello, friends. It's been a long two weeks since my last update. I spent much of the first week sick with bronchitis, but pulled it together for my husband's birthday weekend in NYC. We had a great time (finally got to see the Hemingway exhibit at The Morgan Library & Museum) but then I ended up with a sinus infection and he caught my original cold. By midweek Twin B was sick, too.

We cancelled our trip to Philadelphia this weekend (Daughter #1 is running the half marathon this morning) and are focused on making a full recovery in time for Thanksgiving. So it's been a low-key weekend...

Current reading//

I've been reading The Last Chronicle of Barset all week and enjoying my time in Barchester, Allington, Framley Court, and Hogglestock. This is a long book (837 pages) and I'm a little more than three quarters done.

And now I'm thinking about book length and page count in general...

Many of the books I've read this year have been over 400 pages, and more than a few have been 500 plus. I don't choose books based on length, but recently I've been thrilled to discover a couple of selections were under 200 pages. Why? For the past two years I've taken part in the goodreads challenge and, while my goal is modest, reading so many chunksters makes it that much harder to reach it. I'm considering a couple of novellas and graphic novels/nonfiction in order to reach this year's goal. But isn't that silly? I should read whatever appeals to me regardless of length. Maybe I'll just skip this challenge next year...

Up next//

The Emma 200th Anniversary Readalong starts next month. Details are here... everyone is welcome to read with us.

Guaranteed to Bleed by Julie Mulhern
The first book in this series was so much fun! This should be a light, entertaining read for the busy holiday week.

On the blog//

Book Brief: Between the World and Me  by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Nontraditional Nonfiction: Amazing Audiobooks
Weekend Cooking: Foodie Nonfiction Favorites

In the kitchen//
Easy and familiar was the name of the game last week - Baked Dijon Salmon is a favorite. Tonight we're having Maple Ginger Roasted Pork Tenderloin. Hope it tastes as good as it looks in this picture!

The week ahead//
... is going to be crazy. Monday and Tuesday I have hair and dental appointments, rescheduled from when I was sick (why did I think that was a good idea?) plus shopping and a lot of cleaning. Twin A will drive home on Tuesday, and I'll pick up Daughter#1 at the train station. Twin A's boyfriend arrives on Wednesday. For the first time in years, I am not hosting Thanksgiving Dinner. That's a big break, but I'll still make two pies (pumpkin and pecan), the cranberry sauce, and a couple of sides.

Friday we'll head to the local Christmas tree farm and cut down the perfect tree. I'll also try to take a picture or two for our annual card... cooperation is sometimes an issue. If we're feeling ambitious, I may even haul out the Christmas decorations.

Saturday is our annual Yankee Auction and Holiday Party with my cousins and their families - an event we look forward to all year. Sunday we crash in exhaustion!

How was your week? What have you been reading lately?

This post will link to It's Monday, What Are You Reading?  hosted by Kathryn at Book Date.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Book Brief: Between the World and Me

Between the World and Me
by Ta-Nehisi Coates
narrated by the author
Random House Audio, 2015
3 hours and 35 minutes


One sentence summary:
The author shares his perspective on race and what is means to be a black man in America today in a letter to his teenage son.

Brief thoughts:
Stop whatever you are doing right now and read this book! Better yet, listen.

There is no way I, a white woman from a small village in upstate New York, can ever understand what it means to be a black man in America today. But listening to Coates eloquent, crystal clear, and moving letter to his son, gives me a far more realistic framework for my thoughts. The book is mesmerizing and deeply affecting, especially on audio. It should be required for every citizen of this country.

Want to know more? I'll refer you to Thomas's post - he convinced me to read the book.

My rating:

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Nontraditional Nonfiction: Amazing Audiobooks

We're into week three of Nonfiction November, our host is Rebecca at I'm Lost in Books, and here is the topic:
Nontraditional Nonfiction: This week we will be focusing on the nontraditional side of reading nonfiction. Nonfiction comes in many forms. There are the traditional hardcover or paperback print books, of course, but then you also have e-books, audiobooks, illustrated and graphic nonfiction, oversized folios, miniatures, internet publishing, and enhanced books complete with artifacts. So many choices! Do you find yourself drawn to or away from nontraditional nonfiction? Do you enjoy some nontraditional formats, but not others? Perhaps you have recommendations for readers who want to dive into nontraditional formats. We want to hear all about it this week!  
This is an easy one for me because I LOVE NONFICTION ON AUDIO. In most cases, I actually prefer listening to nonfiction rather than reading it. I'm especially happy when an author turns out to be a great narrator... this adds so much to the overall experience.

One thing I've learned: When listening to nonfiction, I try to borrow a print copy from the library or at least browse through one in the bookstore. That way, I won't miss any photographs, charts, maps, etc. that might be included.

And since today is Tuesday, I'll throw in a Top Ten...
Clicking on the title will take you to audible, where you can listen to a sample of the narration.

Audio Nonfiction Favorites

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Just finished this one: stunning, thought provoking, narrated by the author

Narrated by the author, I cried as I walked the beach listening to her talk about her grandmother (Thank God for sunglasses!) Don't miss this essay collection.

Narrated by the author. I think Quindlen and I could be BFFs... a must read for every woman over 50 (or getting close). An all-time favorite.

by Laura Hillenbrand, narrated By Edward Herrmann
Positively riveting... though the movie may be too much for me.

Downtown: My Manhattan by Pete Hamill
A must-listen for fans of the city or Pete Hamill. I'm ready to listen again! Read by the author.

Narrated by Gary Sinise, but so easy to imagine it was Steinbeck. I've read many of his novels, but it felt like I got to know the author himself here.

Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Narrated by the author. Fascinating.

by Helene Cooper, narrated by the author
One of my favorites from several years ago, I still think about it today.

by David Nasaw, narrated By Malcolm Hillgartner
I've been interested in the Kennedy family forever. This book digs into the truths behind the myths. Well researched and so, so interesting...not sure I would have made it all the way through in print, but I loved each of the 31(!) hours.

Narrated by Cassandra Campbell, Bahni Turpin
Science meets human interest.. the true story behind HeLa cells. An excellent book!

Do you ever listen to nonfiction? What are some of your favorite audiobooks?

Friday, November 13, 2015

Weekend Cooking: Foodie Nonfiction Favorites

Q: What happens when you combine Weekend Cooking, Top Ten Tuesday and Nonfiction November?

A: A Weekend Cooking list of Foodie Nonfiction Favorites

Weekend Cooking, hosted at Beth Fish Reads, is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page.

My Foodie Nonfiction Favorites

Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation 
by Michael Pollan
I especially recommend the audio version, narrated by author.

Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us 
by Michael Moss
This book is fascinating, but it will make you angry. 

My Life in France by Julia Child
An all-time favorite

A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg
A memoir with recipes, my book club cooked (and ate) our way through this one.

The Language of Baklava by Diana Abu-Jaber
Another memoir with recipes book club selection, this time with a local connection.

97 Orchard: An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement by Jane Ziegelman
I enjoyed the social history, but would have appreciated more about the individual families.

The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals
by Michael Pollan 
I will read anything Michael Pollan writes.

The American Way of Eating: Undercover at Walmart, Applebee's, Farm Fields and the Dinner Table by Tracie McMillan
Very interesting... and disturbing

Beyond the Pasta: Recipes, Language & Life with an Italian Family 
by Mark Leslie
A month in Italy learning the language and culinary skills while living in a family setting? Yes, please.

Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen by Laurie Colwin
Recipes. stories, and more from one of America's most beloved food writers.

What are your foodie nonfiction favorites? Have you read any of these?

Links to all of this week's Nonfiction November posts are here.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Book Club Meeting: Out Stealing Horses

Out Stealing Horses
by Per Petterson
Graywolf Press, 2007
258 pages
source: purchased

The meeting that almost wasn't...

Our hostess lost power a few hours before the meeting and a series of urgent group texts ensued. Will the power come back in time? Should we change the location? To the local coffee shop? Hey, it's 4 PM on Friday, wouldn't a bar be better? Finally, thirty minutes before the meeting, power was restored and seven of us gathered as originally planned. (Wine was served!)

The book: 
- an older man, in a remote cottage, reflects upon a life-changing youthful summer
 - quiet, slightly melancholy, atmospheric, and visual
 - translated from Norwegian

As I was reading:
- I realized I'd started the book years ago and never finished
- the writing style was very appealing
- I switched to the audio version and loved the narration
- I got a little bored about two thirds of the way through

The discussion:
- Everyone read the book! (that doesn't always happen)
- We stayed on topic for the entire meeting (also a rarity)
- The discussion opened up plot possibilities/angles I hadn't considered
- Other members liked the book slightly more than I did
- We would all read more from this author

Favorite Quotes:
Time is important to me now, I tell myself. Not that it should pass quickly or slowly, but be only time, be something I live inside and fill with physical things and activities that I can divide it up by, so that it grows distinct to me and does not vanish when I am not looking.   
I look at myself in the mirror above the sink. The face there is no different from the one I expected to see at the age of sixty-seven. In that way I am in time with myself. Whether I like what I see is a different question. But it is of no importance. There are not many people I am going to show myself to, and I only have one mirror. To tell the truth, I have nothing against the face in the mirror. I acknowledge it, I recognize myself. I cannot ask for more. 
My rating:
Initially 3.5 stars, but 4 after further thought and discussion

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Nonfiction November: Book Pairing

Nonfiction November continues. Our host for week two is Lu at Regular Rumination and our topic is Book Pairings. Leslie explains:
The original intention of this week’s theme was put together a fiction book and a nonfiction book that go well together. If you decide to pair two nonfiction books together, that works too! It could be two (or more!) books you’ve read, one book you’ve read and one you have not, or two books that you’ve added to your TBR and want to read that you think will complement and inform each other.
The possibilities here seem endless, so I've decided to limit myself to titles I've read this year. For those with literary leanings, I suggest...

So We Read On: How The Great Gatsby Came to Be and Why It Endures... an interesting mix of literary discussion, F. Scott Fitzgerald biography, and memoir from author and NPR book critic Maureen Corrigan.

After reading Corrigan's book, dust off your copy of The Great Gatsby. If you haven't read it since high school, or even in the past decade, you won't believe it's the same book!

What book pairings would you suggest?


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