Monday, November 20, 2017

Thanksgiving Week Update: 11/20/17


The first winter storm of the season is upon us - several inches of snow on the ground now, high winds, and a few school delays/cancellations. Just in time to make holiday preparation a bit more challenging. I have a 4WD vehicle and still plan to do major grocery shopping at Wegmans... it has to happen today!

Our Manhattan daughters arrive tomorrow (on separate trains!), my brother and his family are coming in from Philadelphia and Boston Wednesday, and my sister's German exchange student from several years ago currently has an internship in the US and will fly in Thursday morning. Twenty people will gather around our Thanksgiving table... definitely my favorite holiday.


Finished last week//


by Jessica Bruder 

I mistakenly thought this was a book about merry bands of retirees exploring America in big RVs. Wrong! Instead, I found myself engrossed in a tale of the American dream gone awry. There is a sizable (and growing) portion of 21st century retirees who roam the country living in vans, RVs, and even cars as they travel from job to job. They make up Amazon's CamperForce, filling a seasonal demand for warehouse help. They are the "workampers" of the sugar beet harvest in North Dakota or your summer hosts at KOA campgrounds. They flip burgers at concession stands during baseball's spring training or at 'premier tourist traps' like Wall Drug in South Dakota... all to make ends meet. The author took to the road in a van of her own for three years. Along the way, she befriended many in the community while learning of their hopes, struggles, and triumphs. A consuming, albeit slightly scary read.




Current reading//


Cork Dork by Bianca Bosker

Last week I started the audio version. This week I borrowed a print copy from the library, so now it's a read/listen combination. Who knew a book about wine could be this interesting? Very good so far.




How Reading Changed My Life by Anna Quindlen

I also brought this little gem home from the library last week. I think I've read it before, but for whatever reason it doesn't appear on any of my lists. Anna Quindlen is the best.



Up next//


Something light and quick would be perfect for the holiday weekend... like Winter Solstice by Elin Hilderbrand. I devoured the first three books of the series between Christmas and New Year last year. The fourth and final book might be perfect for Black Friday. I certainly won't be shopping!!

Or maybe one of the books I recently purchased at Book Culture... we'll see.


On the blog//
Review: Dear Fahrenheit 451  by Annie Spence
Nonfiction November, Week 3: Books About Books
It's Monday, What Are You Reading? (including thoughts on Reading People)


The week ahead//
Thanksgiving week means cleaning, then lots of cooking, followed by four days of nonstop family gatherings. Bring it on!



What are you reading this week? Any big plans for Thanksgiving?


This post will link to It's Monday, What Are You Reading? hosted by Kathryn at Book Date.
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Sunday, November 19, 2017

Dear Fahrenheit 451 by Annie Spence


Dear Fahrenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks
by Annie Spence
narrated by Stephanie Spicer
Dreamscape Media, 2017
5 hours and 35 minutes



Dear Annie,

Well done! Dear Fahrenheit 451  was an absolute joy to read. The idea to write love letters (or 'Dear John' letters) to books while weeding the library shelves was brilliant.

I loved hearing about favorites from bygone days. It's gratifying to know these old treasures still merit a place on the shelf. You also had me laughing out loud at some of the discard books. Hard to believe anyone ever thought they might be a good idea.  I'm not even sure they'll find a home at the book sale!

Reading your book made my already unmanageable to-be-read list even more unwieldy. I know it's your job, but you know about a lot of books... and across so many different genres. I only wish I could read faster.

I'm also wondering if you had a say in choosing the audiobook narrator, because Stephanie Spicer is perfect! I imagine you sound just like her... enough snark to be entertaining, but a genuine love of books and reading shines through.

Anyway, thanks for a great book... and I promise to give  Jeffrey Eugenides another try.

Happy reading,
JoAnn


My rating:

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Nonfiction November, Week 3: Books About Books



Nonfiction November moves into to Week 3 with Be The Expert/Ask the Expert/Become the Expert and our host is Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness.

Three ways to join in this week! You can either share 3 or more books on a single topic that you have read and can recommend (be the expert), you can put the call out for good nonfiction on a specific topic that you have been dying to read (ask the expert), or you can create your own list of books on a topic that you’d like to read (become the expert).


My topic is ... Books about Books. Here are some of my favorites, but I'd also really appreciate your recommendations. As far as I'm concerned, you can never  read too many books about books.



84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff
"This charming classic love story, first published in 1970, brings together twenty years of correspondence between Helene Hanff, at the time, a freelance writer living in New York City, and a used-book dealer in London at 84, Charing Cross Road."




In this book, "a former bookseller and sales representative, celebrates the unique experience of the bookstore--the smell and touch of books, getting lost in the deep canyons of shelves, and the silent community of readers.




The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe 
"A profoundly moving testament to the power of love between a child and parent, and the power of reading in our lives."




"A Gen-X librarian's snarky, laugh-out-loud funny, deeply moving collection of love letters and break-up notes to the books in her life."




"This witty collection of essays recounts a lifelong love affair with books and language."



Have you enjoyed any of these? What are your favorite books about books?
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Monday, November 13, 2017

It's Monday, What Are You Reading?


What a week... brutal, bone-chilling cold (the kind usually reserved for the dead of winter) and snow. Perfect weather to stay indoors and read - especially good timing since it's Nonfiction November!


Finished this week//

by Anne Bogel

You might know Anne Bogel from her blog (Modern Mrs. Darcy) or podcast, but I was a little slow making that association. Personality typing and theories of personality have always interested me, so I literally devoured this short book... and, of course, took another free online typing in the process. Highly recommended, especially if you're into reading about psychology, interpersonal relations, and the like.




by Annie Spence
I loved this book! The audio version, narrated by Stephanie Spicer, is amazing. Review coming soon.



Current reading//


by Jessica Bruder
At the halfway mark, this is not what I was expecting... but it is completely fascinating, and a little scary, too.



Listening to//


Cork Dork by Bianca Bosker

I picked this up because Tina recommended it...and because I love wine. So far I'm enjoying the conversational tone and have already learned a thing or two. The audio version is read by the author.



Up next//
It's hard to say... Nonfiction November is adding to my tbr list by the hour!


On the blog//
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
Nonfiction November, Week 2: Book Pairings
The Sunday Salon: Hello, November

How was your week? What are you reading?


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

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Sunday, November 12, 2017

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles


A Gentleman in Moscow
by Amor Towles
narrated by Nicholas Guy Smith
Penguin Audio, 2016
17 hours and 52 minutes


Publisher's summary:
A Gentleman in Moscow immerses us in another elegantly drawn era with the story of Count Alexander Rostov. When, in 1922, he is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, the count is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel's doors. Unexpectedly, his reduced circumstances provide him a doorway into a much larger world of emotional discovery.

A bit of background:

I'd been eagerly anticipating Amor Towles second novel since the moment I finished Rules of Civility back in 2012. (my review) When I learned he quit his day job to write full time, I was overjoyed. The day A Gentleman in Moscow was released, I was among the first patrons at the bookstore. But then the book sat on my shelf... for months. I brought it to Sanibel, where it sat on my nightstand all winter. After I lugged it north again in the spring, the reading slump hit. Weeks passed, then a month. I couldn't finish a novel. Eventually I did finish a long classic (Trollope, of course) but was still leery of contemporary fiction. Last month I decided to try a Gentleman in Moscow...

My thoughts:

As with Rules of Civility, Towles' prose is gorgeous. Within pages I was immersed in another time and place. It was glorious.

Count Alexander Rostov is a captivating character, one who will stay with me for a very long time. I loved the count - his intelligence, refined nature, the manner in which he came to accept his circumstances, and his interactions with other characters, especially Sophia.

The Metropol hotel is practically a character, too. Towles brought it to life as I formed detailed images of various salons, dining rooms, stairways, and even the roof and basement.

But...

The plot builds slowly. Very slowly. I found myself wishing things would just. move. along. As I'm not generally a reader who requires much in the way plot, this might be the lingering effects of the worst reading slump ever. Eventually, I did reach a point where I couldn't put the novel down. The ending is among the best I have ever read.

Every single sentence of a Gentleman in Moscow is a work of art. I marked quotes too numerous to share. It is, undoubtedly, the most beautifully written novel I've read this year.

A note on the audio production:

As I struggled with the print edition, I turned to the audio to pull me through. Nicholas Guy Smith, a new-to-me narrator, was absolutely mesmerizing. His voice was perfect for the count - so elegant and refined. If you are an audiobook fan, be sure to consider this option.

My rating:
The writing and audio production certainly deserve 5 stars, but A Gentleman in Moscow was a 4 star read for me.

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Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Nonfiction November, Week 2: Book Pairings


It's Week 2 of  Nonfiction November. Our host this week is Sarah from Sarah's Book Shelves  and we're talking about book pairings:

It can be a “If you loved this book, read this!” or just two titles that you think would go well together. Maybe it’s a historical novel and you’d like to get the real history by reading a nonfiction version of the story.




Middlemarch by George Eliot
and 
My Life in Middlemarch by Rebecca Mead


My literary pairing this year combines a beloved classic with a modern blend of memoir, author biography, and literary criticism.

When I first read Middlemarch  in 2014, my intention was to follow up immediately with My Life in Middlemarch. In actuality, nearly three years passed before I began listening to Mead's book... and it might have been even longer without added incentive from an audible BOGO sale.

My Life in Middlemarch is a wonderful, well-written book. I learned a lot about George Eliot, thoroughly enjoyed Mead's discussion of the great novel, and found her personal story interesting, too.

For Middlemarch fans, My Life in Middlemarch is truly a must read!


******************************

Nonfiction November is hosted by Katie at Doing Dewey, Lory at Emerald City Book Review, Sarah at Sarah’s Book Shelves, Julz at Julz Reads, and  Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness.

Visit Sarah's Book Shelves for more book pairing posts.
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Sunday, November 5, 2017

The Sunday Salon: Hello, November


November has arrived. Early sunsets, Thanksgiving, family gatherings, birthdays, our anniversary. Increased activity in the kitchen, quiet evenings with a book, holiday preparations begin, and Nonfiction November...the highlight of my blogging year. Here we go!


Finished this week//

by Amor Towles, narrated by Nicholas Guy Smith

Elegant, beautifully written, but slow... at times, painfully so. Review coming this week.



My Cousin Rachel by Daphne DuMaurier

More about obsession than love, this was a perfect book for Halloween week reading. DuMaurier's delightfully Gothic story, filled with ambiguity and tension, kept me up late turning the pages.




Current reading//


I was able to get both the audio and ebook version from my library via hoopla. It's interesting so far and, as an added bonus, short.



Likely to read next//


by Jessica Bruder

From the beet fields of North Dakota to the wilderness campgrounds of California to an Amazon warehouse in Texas, people who once might have kicked back to enjoy their sunset years are hard at work. Underwater on mortgages or finding that Social Security comes up short, they’re hitting the road in astonishing numbers, forming a new community of nomads: RV and van-dwelling migrant laborers, or “workampers.”


On the blog//

Nonfiction November, Week #1: My Year in Nonfiction
The Classics Club: My Second List


At home//

We're in the process of replacing four windows. Contractors were around most of last week and I'm hoping they finish up on Monday. We cleaned the gutters Saturday, but still have several more outdoor fall clean-up chores ahead. Fingers crossed the weather cooperates!


How was your week? What have you been reading?


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