Monday, September 29, 2014

29 September 2014

I haven't participated in the Musing Mondays meme for a while.  It is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading.  Basically, it is a place for you to talk about your reading, with or without prompts.

I thought that today I would share what has caught my attention in the literary world recently.   Of course, I obtained my copy, the day it was released, of Jan Karon's new title "Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good".  It is the next in the Mitford series, the first in a while after her two fantastic reads in the Father Tim series.  I can't tell you how it feels to read Karon's Mitford series books.  You feel like you are going "home" or to a different time/place (although they are very contemporary).  The books all take place in the fictional town of Mitford and, like all small towns, it has a cast of very colorful, loveable and not so loveable characters and there is always one you can identify with or say you know somebody "just like that".  This is the sort of book you can settle in with and just lose yourself for a while.  Yep, they are that good. However, if you are just beginning with the Karon series please start at the beginning with the first one.  They will make much better sense that way!

I have also been reading M. C. Beaton's Agatha Raisin series.  I started out reading her Hamish MacBeth series and then started following her on Facebook and decided to pick up one of the Agatha Raisin series and give it a go.  I started at the beginning with the first one and was instantly hooked.  I am now on my third and don't see myself stopping anytime soon.  These are delightful little mysteries, quick reads, engaging and humorous.  They are being made into a tv show in the UK -- I certainly hope we get to see it here in the States!

Happy Fall!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Happy Autumn!

I meant to do this several days ago but I hadn't gotten my pumpkins yet.  Earlier I decided today was the day to do my pumpkin shopping.  Since my "stoop" isn't very large I buy little bitty pumpkins just to add some color.  I really love those huge heirloom or fairytale pumpkins, and I think one would fit, but I don't want to make getting in and out of the door difficult  so I opt for little ones and call it "my minimalist decor".  The flowers in the pot are not real.  It is hard to keep anything watered on that little porch so I opted for some colorful, silk items just to bring some color in.  Of course, it doesn't feel like fall here but I like to go by the calendar rather than the weather when decorating.  If I waited for it to feel like fall there would probably be about five minutes between putting out fall decorations and Christmas decorations so I just do it when it is logical because our weather isn't logical.

So, on to make zucchini bread and cookies! Have a wonderful weekend.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

"How To Make Yourself Miserable"  by Dan Greenburg

Recently, on Facebook, there was a challenge going around to name the ten books that impacted you the most. At the end of the challenge you were supposed to challenge others to join in.  This was one of the more thought provoking challenges around so I thought I would take part.  I thought I would just rattle off ten books that came off the top of my head -- that should do it -- but when I looked at the list I was quite surprised to see what I had written.  The first book was The Bible.  Now, you are probably saying "how stereotypical -- doesn't everybody put that on a list of this sort"?  Well, I don't know but I know why I put it on mine -- I am not a Bible scholar by any means, haven't read it all the way through, don't carry a well worn leather bound copy with me at all times but I do know that it contains all the answers I need to any problem that life can hand me and so I feel that is a huge impact on me.  The last book on the list was actually a set of books -- The World Book Encyclopedia.  I remember my mother purchasing the set of books from a door - to - door salesman.  He took the order and we had to wait for them to be delivered.  I remember the night they came -- it was a rainy evening, the sun had gone down and, since this was before FedEX and UPS, the postal service brought it.  I remember being so excited.  I remember arranging the books on the bookshelves in my room and I also remember systematically going through each book and pretty much reading through it.  I loved those books.

Just for the record, I remember learning how to spell "encyclopedia" from Jiminy Cricket on the Mickey Mouse Club.

There were various other books on the list that had lasting impact on me like "Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl", "The Good Master" and the Jan Karon Mitford books.  Most of my offereings were children's books but then, isn't that when we are the most impressionable?

I digress.  I went on to challenge several other people and one person, Jim M., took the challenge to heart.  He gave it considerable thought and came up with a really good list -- quite varied, all interesting (although a lot of it over my head).  One book, "How to Make Yourself Miserable" was one that he recommended I read so I went on to Ebay, found a copy, bought it and read it.  As I told Jim -- it was hysterically funny and painfully relatable all at the same time!

A bit of a back story -- Jim M. and I knew each other in elementary and junior high school.  He was a member of the educational sub-group known as the "smart kids".  There was a whole group of these boys, and I remember all of them, that just reeked of intelligence.  I was on the edge of this group because I was very good in English and history -- not so much in math -- I would have trouble counting to 20 using my fingers and toes but wasn't that the expected norm for girls in the 50's-60's?  I think so.  Now, this sub-group of super smart children wasn't the same as the "A" group of the social elite -- you know, the "popular" ones.  I definitely wasn't a part of THAT group -- I was sort of a social group of my own -- so I floated around the periphery of the "smart kids" and the rest of the time I just lived in my own little world.  Now, Jim M. and I went to different high schools -- he went to the high school with the "smart kids" and I went to the one closest to my house.  Time marched on and lots of life happened and only with the advent of social media did I make contact with classmates from the past, including Jim M.  It was no surprise to me that Jim M. had grown up to be a professor -- of math -- and it was no surprise to me that he is well read and has a wide variety of interests.  It is no surprise to me that he has a well developed vocabulary as well.  What did surprise me is that he remembered me.  It was a pleasant surprise and we have gone on to have many conversations about our school days and our lives since, about what has happened to many of our friends and our current interests.  So, I was interested in his list of books and was anxious to read the one he recommended to me -- "How to Make Yourself Miserable".

"How to Make Yourself Miserable" is a guide book, so to speak, on how to punish yourself for all your guilts, how to create, maintain and perpetuate all manner of anxiety and how to, bascially, undermine yourself until you completely alienate the entire world.  This book was written in 1966 and I have to say that it was geared to the young adults of the time, those who were raised in the late 40's and 50's with the mores of the era and all the guilt that went along with it.  As I read along, I could relate to so many of the hilarious scenarios that were presented.  Of course, not all those scenarios were from decades past -- the airplane bit was much more currently relative.   In any event, I must have mellowed out in my dotage because I found it all to be quite amusing whereas, if I had read the book when it was published, I would have recognized myself right off the bat and that would have created an anxiety of its own.

It was a fun read.  I would recommend if you can get a copy of it.  Out of print, I am sure.  Thanks, Jim M. for the suggestion.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Barefoot by Elin Hilderbrand

This was a book that I had put on my Nook quite a while back.  I think I got it for free -- or almost free.  I was doing a bit of cleaning up on the Nook the other day, archiving and deleting and I started looking at what I had put on the thing and decided I should start reading some of the material that was there.  So, I started here.

I don't know what possessed me to ever buy this book to begin with.  It is about three young women -- two sisters and a best friend.  They are all going through their own private situations -- cheating husbands, surprise pregnancies, ruined careers, and cancer.  This was probably not a good choice for me since I am still living the cancer nightmare but the storyline was so compelling, I just couldn't put it down.

I would recommend this book unless you are in the throes of a serious illness.  It made me nervous.  Otherwise, it was a good read.