Weekend Walks and Current Books


I went for a walk the other day.  It looked so warm and sunny but looks can be deceiving and, like a fool, I didn't check the weather before I went out.  It was freezing!  The wind was blowing like crazy.  By the time I got back to the car I couldn't feel my hands and I looked like I was crying because the wind kept blowing in my face and my eyes were tearing.  I had to drink two cups of tea in order to warm up.  It was worth it though.  I would much rather exercise outside.  The river was very high, it usually looks much calmer than this. We have gotten a ton of rain lately.


I am reading two books right now, neither of which I am likely to write reviews for, not because I am not enjoying them but because I don't feel motivated to review everything I read.  I am reading Bill Bryson's The Mother Tongue.  I just started it today and was enjoying it.  I am fascinated by words and language and how it develops so this sounded perfect for me.  Then I made the mistake of looking up reviews.  A lot of people complain of factual errors in it.  Now I am not sure what to think.  Probably I will keep reading.  I know Bill Bryson isn't an expert on everything he writes about and this is supposed to be a light and entertaining read, not a scholarly treatise, but errors annoy me.  Has anyone read this?  Is it really full of errors?

I am also reading The Last Hurrah by Edwin O'Connor.  I think I might have mentioned this before.  My dad loaned me the book a while ago and I just haven't gotten around to reading it.  It is a novel about a mayoral race and politics in America.  Apparently, a movie was made of it which starred Spencer Tracy.  I might have to look for that.

I have also mentioned before that I don't have a lot of people with whom to discuss books.  I do, however, have one friend who likes to read.  She isn't nearly as obsessive a reader and our taste in books is vastly different but we do occasionally come across a book we are both interested in.  She happened to mention that she wanted to read War and Peace and that is a book I have been debating trying to read.  Notice I said "trying to read" because I am by no means confident that I will finish it.  She suggested that we read it at the same time and discuss it periodically.  I think that is a good idea, especially for a book like that.  Discussing it might help keep everything straight and carry me through my inevitable desire to just give up.  She says it is the perfect book for us to read together, the war for her and the peace for me.  She gets bored if there isn't a bit of death and misery in her books and I get frustrated if it is all doom and gloom. We will see how this goes.

Pack Rats and Minimalists


My mom likes to collect things.  She likes pictures and teapots and decorative items that have belonged to various family members.  She hates to get rid of things because she gets sentimentally attached and besides, you never know when you might need it.

 My dad firmly believes that if you haven't used it recently (and recently is a very flexible time frame) then maybe you should get rid of it.  He will happily give things away while my mom is still debating her sentimental attachment or whether it is needed. He does it in all helpfulness and kindness.  When I was a kid I used to regularly find the newspaper by looking in the trash.  He had seen it lying around in the living room and taken care of it, and besides, isn't everyone done with a newspaper by 9:00?

I have both these mindsets battling for supremacy inside me.  I hate clutter and dream of organized closets and an empty attic but at the same time, what if I need it next week?  What if I regret getting rid of it?  Plus I have a bit of a sentimental streak.  If you tell me something belonged to my great-grandmother's second cousin twice removed I am probably going to want to keep it in the family.

I think both my parents have realized I have these conflicted ideas about what to do with things and are using that knowledge to their own advantage.

My dad knows I will understand his need to clean and organize so he offers me things out of their house with dismaying regularity.  He has offered me a mini fridge and a microwave four times in the last six weeks.  I am able to say no to these things because I am enough his daughter to refuse practical items I don't need.  But then he goes in for the kill.  He offers me things that used to belong to various family members.  I am not totally confident that he doesn't slightly embellish the stories when he is telling me about these items.

My mom uses her knowledge of me as well.  She knows they need to simplify as they get older, she knows my dad is right when he says they need to get rid of things, and she knows the perfect solution for the things she can't bear to part with is to offer them to me.  She isn't likely to offer me a mini fridge but she is very good at the family stuff. All she has to do is walk into the room holding some china and start to reminisce about my grandmother's pantry and I know it is all over.

So last week when I stopped in to give my mom my opinion about a dress for a wedding I left with teacups and dessert plates and a sugar and creamer that belonged to my great-grandmother. I knew I was doomed when she pulled out the teacups and then when we started talking about how I could have afternoon tea with my daughter I was completely sunk.  I told you she knew what she was doing.  You can see the teacups in the picture at the top. Aren't they pretty?  The pink floral one is my daughter's, the fruit rimmed one is for me, and the yellow rose one is for a guest.  I was only going to take two but she suggested one more just in case.  She is sneaky.  I went home with all three.

Here are the sugar and creamer.  I don't actually own much from this great-grandmother so I was pleased.  ( The family thing will get me every time.)

sugar and creamer

Here are the plates.  I took them because if my daughter and I are going to have tea parties then we need something to put our cakes on.  That is my story and I am sticking to it.

dessert plates

My parents also know that they can offer almost anything to me daughter and she will take it. Actually, both kids tried to convince me that they needed a microwave and mini fridge in their room. My dad thought that was a great idea. Of course he did.

And now I am off to agonize over the things I should probably get rid of in my own attic.  I have to make room for all the family treasures my dad is discovering.

Family Roundabout by Richmal Crompton

Persephone Books--Family Roundabout

I have had this book for almost a year and I kept putting off reading it.  Not because I wasn't interested or didn't think I would enjoy it but because I have a bad habit of hoarding books I think I am going to particularly enjoy.  I am not sure why I do it, it isn't as if once it is read it can never be read again.  I just enjoy the anticipation and tend to want to save these special books for a special time.  I don't want to read them in a hurry while making dinner and yelling at kids to get their homework done.  I want to read them while resting in a hammock with a large glass of iced tea and a constant supply of snacks.  There should be a beautiful garden to gaze out upon while contemplating character development and no one should ever interrupt me with demands for food, transportation, or clean laundry.  No, I didn't achieve that nirvana recently (one can only dream) but I did have a quiet weekend with the kids at my parents which left me with plenty of time to read.  So I curled up on the couch with an afghan and a hot cup of tea and dove in.

Family Roundabout is the story of two families, the Willoughbys and the Fowlers, who live in the town of Bellington between the wars.  Each of the families is overseen by a widowed mother.  Mrs. Willoughby is domineering and rules her family with a rod of iron. She is described as "eagle-eyed, eagle-beaked, built on the formidable lines of a dreadnought."  She loves them but is convinced that she always knows what is best.  The family submits to her rule, showing up when required and consulting her on all decisions big and small.  Mrs. Fowler is a quiet, peaceful woman who is content to let her children make their own way through life as best they can. She loves them dearly but does not feel motivated to interfere in their lives.  The lives of the two families become interwoven beginning with the marriage of Mrs. Willoughby's son and Mrs. Fowler's daughter.  The novel visits the characters over the course of some years and shows how the characters and their lives have changed.

I was immediately drawn to Mrs. Fowler and some of my favorite quotes revolve around her.  I thought this quote gives such a clear picture of her.

"Her name was Millicent, but Henry who liked diminutives, had called her Milly.  She always thought of the quick-witted , quick-tempered girl who still existed somewhere within her as Millicent and Henry's wife as Milly.  "Now, Millicent...' she would say to herself warningly, as she bit back some trenchant comment, some shrewd rejoinder."

I could so relate to this quote.

"She had put a little pile of books on the table by her chair and was looking forward to a long quiet afternoon.  Peter used to laugh at her habit of selecting a number of her favourite books to 'dip into' whenever she had an afternoon or evening free for reading.  Other people, he said, just had a book and read it through till they'd finished it...
'I get the same sort of gloating feeling that misers get, I suppose,' said Mrs. Fowler.  'I think I have all afternoon and evening and I can just--wallow.'
This is one of those quiet books where not a lot happens and even when things do happen they happen in a quiet way.  It feels like an observer's book. We observe the families, observe the characters, observe their interactions.  And in many ways, the characters observe themselves.  Mrs. Fowler realizes something important here.

"Sometimes she wondered if he came to her hoping for some help that he never received.  She had this feeling of uncertainty and inadequacy with all her children.  She shrank from bringing pressure to bear on them in any way or obtruding on their privacy, and so, she suspected, she often failed them.  They wanted help and advice, and she had none to give....Her thoughts went to Mrs. Willoughby.  She can always give people advice. I'd be better if I had more of her in me.  A little smile twitched her lips. And perhaps she'd be better if she had more of me in her...." 

This is just the type of book I like, a quiet book, a book where, in a way, not much happens.  A book full of characters more than events.  But at the same time an insightful book, a thoughtful book, and a book that bears reading again.

I'll leave you with one last quote. I think Mrs. Fowler would have completely understood my desire for a good book and a hammock.

'Having come to the conclusion that there was so much to do that she didn't know where to start, Mrs. Fowler decided not to start at all.  She went to the library, took Diary of a Nobody from the shelves, and, returning to her wicker chair under the lime tree, settled down to waste what precious hours still remained of the day."

I reviewed this book for the Classics Club.  You can see the rest of my list here.

Bits And Pieces Of My Week


We went for a walk on Sunday afternoon.  It was 56 degrees.  I know I keep mentioning the temperature but that is just so unusual.  Of course, last Sunday we had a wind chill of 30 below zero so I guess we should enjoy the warmth when we get it.  My daughter brought her scooter and she had so much fun.  Ten-year-old children are easy to please.  She also likes appearing on my blog so here she is in all her glory.

a girl and her scooter

a girl and her scooter

The rest of my family is not so crazy about appearing here which is why you rarely see pictures of them.  I think my daughter just likes the attention...She also has designated herself as my official proofreader and critic.  She regularly asks if I have a blog post that I need someone to check over.  I must say, I appreciate having such an enthusiastic audience.  Of course, I might have a larger enthusiastic audience if I told people in my real life that this blog exists but honestly, that isn't going to happen any time soon.  That is probably because a lot of people already think I am a bit odd for reading so much and if I tell them that I also write about the books I read and post my thoughts online, well, then they will really think I am crazy.  That or they just won't care, and I am not sure which would be worse.

But anyway, back to my week.  This week I had the tragedy of discovering that chocolate contributes to the migraines I get.  I had suspected so for a long time but had been living in denial.  Wouldn't you?  Ten weeks ago I quit eating chocolate and I didn't get a migraine for that whole time.  This week I started eating chocolate again and promptly had the migraines return.  That seems pretty definitive to me.  Can we just have a moment of silence to mourn the end of a beautiful friendship?  Chocolate and I have been in a close relationship for years.  This is very sad.  What do you replace chocolate with?  I don't like most other candy.  I do like caramel, that has possibilities, but it just won't be the same.  I have already given up wheat because my doctor thought it would help control my migraines.  What is going to be left?  I am going to end up eating a diet of fruits and vegetables which will be very healthy but not too useful at soothing those hormonal cravings.

I went to visit an old friend this week and she baked me almond flour jam thumbprint cookies.  That is a true friend.  We have been friends for almost 20 years but about 7 years ago my family and I moved from being in the same town as her to being about an hour away.  That hour makes such a difference.  We do our best but I hadn't seen her in over six months.  It was so nice to catch up and chat like mad and eat cookies.  It is wonderful when friendships stand the test of time and distance.  We don't see each other often but when we do it is as if no time has passed since the last time we were together.

My reading this week has not really been blog-worthy.  It has been a lot of rereading.  I started the week with a bad cold and just kept pulling old, familiar books off the shelf.  Right now I am rereading To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis.  I mentioned it in my last post and immediately had the urge to read it again.  It is so much fun.  I did read Family Roundabout by Richmal Crompton and need to write a review of it. In fact, that is what this post was supposed to be but somehow I ended up babbling on about walks and migraines and chocolate.

Now I really want some chocolate.  I guess I will go eat an orange.  A chocolate orange would be better...

Laughter Is The Best Medicine

Our Hearts Were Young and Gay--Cornelia Otis Skinner

Sometimes you just need to laugh, not smile slightly, not feel vaguely amused, but really laugh with that can't catch your breath, might wake the whole house up laughter.  The kind of laughter that makes everyone ask you what is so funny, the kind that makes your whole day brighter.  What do you read when you need a funny book?

One book that is guaranteed to make me laugh until I have tears streaming down my cheeks is Our Hearts Were Young And Gay by Cornelia Otis Skinner and Emily Kimbrough.  It is the account of their European tour in the 1920s.

"We had been planning the trip for over a year.  Pinching, scraping and going without sodas, we had salvaged from our allowance and the small-time jobs we each had found the preceding vacation the sum of $80.00, which was the cost of a minimum passage on a Canadian Pacific liner of the cabin class.  Our respective families had augmented our finances by letters of credit generous enough to permit us to live for three months abroad if not in the lap of luxury, at least on the knees of comfort.  For months we had been exchanging letters brimming over with rapturous plans and lyric anticipation and now June had really rolled around and the happy expectancy of the brides-to-be of that year had nothing on us."
Cornelia comes down with measles on the voyage over and if you can read the account of how they managed to get her off the ship while concealing her illness without laughing hysterically, well, there is no hope for you.  Cornelia and Emily stumble from one adventure and catastrophe to another but they are obviously having the time of their lives and you will be too as you read about it.

Rosie Is My Relative--Gerald Durrell

Rosy Is My Relative by Gerald Durrell is the story of Adrian Rookwhistle and his elephant, Rosy.  Rosy was left to him in a will.  Adrian decides he needs to find a proper home for Rosy and ends up traveling through the British countryside looking for a circus or fair that will take Rosy in.  They have an encounter with a fox hunt, they take a sea voyage, they participate in a performance with disastrous results, and oh, did I mention that Rosy has a fondness for drink?  Imagine the consequences if a large elephant gets hold of some beer.  Read it and weep, with laughter.

Three Men In A Boat--Jerome K. Jerome

Jerome, George, and Harris, along with the dog, Montmorency, decide to take a boating holiday.  And thus you have Three Men In A Boat (To Say Nothing Of The Dog) by Jerome K. Jerome.  There are complications, digressions, discussions, and adventures.  Jerome loves to go off on tangents and observations about life and discussions of the countryside but since it is all amusing you won't mind at all.

"That the boat did not upset I simply state as a fact. Why it did not upset I am unable to offer any reason. I have often thought about the matter since, but I have never succeeded in arriving  at any satisfactory explanation of the phenomenon. 
Possibly the result may have been brought about by the natural obstinacy of all things in this world.  The boat may possibly have come to the conclusion, judging from a cursory view of our behavior, that we had come out for a morning's suicide, and had thereupon determined to disappoint us. That is the only suggestion I can offer."
Three Men In A Boat is best read in conjunction with Connie Willis' To Say Nothing Of  The Dog. It is fun to see the inside jokes in her book and I love the scene were Ned Henry actually encounters the three men in a boat, to say nothing of the dog.

The Code of the Woosters--P.G. Wodehouse

No list of laugh out loud books would be complete without P.G. Wodehouse.  I grew up on Wodehouse.  My mom loved his books and there were always a few floating around the house.  The Code of the Woosters has all the typical Wodehouse nonsense that is such a joy to read.  Bertie's Aunt Dahlia wants him to steal a cow creamer and if he doesn't his invitations to lunch will be rescinded.  Bertie can't face that since his aunt's chef is incomparable.  He gives it his best attempt but gets entangled with more than he bargained for.  As usual, Jeeves comes to the rescue and Bertie just escapes marriage and the wrath of his aunt by the skin of his teeth.   I love the way Wodehouse describes people.

"She was definitely the type of girl who puts her hands over a husband's eyes, as he is crawling in to breakfast with a morning head and says: 'Guess who!'"

Or this one.

"She was standing by the barometer, which, if it had an ounce of sense in its head, would have been pointing to 'Stormy' instead of  'Set Fair'."

One more.

"I could see that, if not actually disgruntled, he was far from being gruntled."
I have had fun writing this post.  I kept dipping in and out of all these books, reading my favorite parts and laughing all over again.  What do you read when you need something to brighten your day?

In Which We Try Again

Persephone Books--Family Roundabout

If you have been reading my blog for a while you might remember that a few months ago the kids spent the weekend at my parent's.  It was our anniversary and some time to ourselves sounded nice.  You also might remember that as we were leaving to drop off the kids my husband fell down the stairs and badly sprained both his ankles which, needless to say, put a bit of a damper on the weekend.  My parents thought that we deserved another attempt at a romantic weekend and we made plans for the kids to go there this past weekend.

Did things go any better this time?  I'll let you be the judge.  First of all, I had been sick all week with a nasty cold.  Not just a normal cold where I could carry on anyway but one of those colds where I couldn't  breathe through my nose at all so eating was difficult, my nose was red and peeling from blowing it so much, and I was constantly coughing from the tickle in my throat.  All of which left me looking so attractive, a bit like Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer to be honest.   But we carried on because this was the weekend that worked for everyone and if we didn't do it now we wouldn't do it at all.  Besides, I was convinced I would wake up Saturday feeling slightly better.  I was right, my cold was down to normal cold proportions.  However, my husband woke up with the beginnings of the cold.  Of course.

And we had to go to a funeral on Saturday.

By Sunday my husband was at the unable to breathe, blowing his nose constantly stage.  I was feeling a bit better and feeling sorry for myself because the weekend was a bit of a disaster.  Then he got called out for work.  It was 6 degrees F, he works outside and he was sick.  So I felt sorry for him. There he was, at work on a Sunday in the freezing cold and there I was, at home eating dinner by myself.

So the lesson I learned from this weekend is that my husband and I do not do romantic weekends.  We do weekends were everything goes wrong.  It is probably best that we never plan a romantic weekend again.  I hate to think what would happen next time.

At least the kids had a good time at my parents.  And we did enjoy the peace and quiet.  Speaking of which, I did notice some things about having kids gone.  My house stays clean for so long.  I wipe down the kitchen and I go back an hour later and there are still no dishes in the sink.  There are not any boat sized shoes by the front door.  There is so much silence.  We can have an entire conversation.  Amazing.  But at the same time, there is no one to take out the garbage, feed the pets, empty the dishwasher, or entertain us with their nonsense.

I did get quite a bit of reading done.  Most of it was books that weren't too special, fun to read but nothing I felt any great compulsion to write about. However, last night I started Family Roundabout by Richmal Crompton.  I have been saving it for when I really needed something special to read and so far it has been living up to my expectations.

Please tell me we are not the only couple who has a black cloud that follows them around and rains on their attempts at romantic weekends.

The Makioka Sisters by Junichiro Tanizaki

The Makioka Sisters--Junichiro Tanizaki

I found this book fascinating.  I know little about Japanese culture and life, my reading seems to be predominately British, and I enjoyed learning about a people and lifestyle so different from my own.  The Makioka Sisters is about just that, four sisters living in Osaka in the years before World War II.  The world is changing around them and they are being forced to change with it.

Tsuruko is the oldest sister.  She is in charge of the main house and all decisions must be submitted to her and her husband.  She is clinging to the old world and to the days when Makioka was a name that carried weight and importance.  Sachiko is next.  Much of the book is told through her eyes.  She wants what is best for everyone and slowly comes to realize that what is best might be changing. Yukiko is the third sister and in some ways she is the focus of everyone's attention.  She is still unmarried and they all feel a great need to remedy that.  While Yukiko is talked of often she always seems to be a distant figure.  The reader never gets inside her head and somehow never comes to know her thoughts and her feelings. Yukiko is very much made up of old world Japan.   The youngest sister, Taeko, is the most modern.  She throws herself into various interests and possible careers, she dresses in the most modern manner, and she falls in love with inappropriate men.  The four sisters and their lives all revolve around each other in a complex tangle of hopes, wishes, and emotions. The conflict between the old and new world and the impact the changes have on the family give a clear picture of society in flux.

The book was written in an understated and subtle manner that I particularly enjoyed.  I found the attitudes and viewpoints of the Japanese culture of the day very interesting, especially the way in which marriages were arranged and how the potential marriage mates were investigated.  The author wove so many details into the novel, details about the way of life, attitudes, dress, culture, food, family structure, and Japan itself.  Those details made for a complex and addictive writing style.  I thoroughly enjoyed sinking into the world that was created.

The  back cover of the books says that "the story of the Makioka sisters forms what is arguably the greatest Japanese novel of the twentieth century, a poignant yet unsparing portrait of a family-and an entire society-sliding into the abyss of modernity."  I am not sure how I feel about the "abyss of modernity" though the more I think about it, the more the phrase grows on me.  I do agree with the "poignant yet unsparing portrait of a family." It is that portrait of a family that makes this such a fulfilling book to read.

Apparently, The Makioka Sisters was first printed in 1943 but was suppressed by the government because they said "The novel goes on and on detailing the very thing we are supposed to be on guard against during this period of wartime emergency: the soft, effeminate and grossly individualistic lives of women." That's an interesting statement, isn't it?  The book was finally published after the end of the war.

Book Mail

I bought a few more books.  I am always buying a few more books.  I figure everyone has their indulgences, some people spend lots of money on coffee or wine or shoes.  I spend my money on books and books are more affordable than wine or shoes. I did manage to have books delivered on both the recent snow days.  That made me happy.

Barbara Pym

I have read all of Barbara Pym's books but I don't own them all so I am trying to remedy that.  I know very little about her life so I also got a copy of her autobiography.  It is edited by Hazel Holt.  I have read and enjoyed her series of cozy mysteries.  I believe the two were good friends.  It is written using diaries and letters which is a format I enjoy.  It satisfies my nosy side.

At Mrs. Lippincote's--Elizabeth Taylor

I like the cover of this book.  Elizabeth Taylor writes such quiet yet incisive novels.  I think I might have read this one years ago but I am not sure.  Anyway, I get to read it now.

Miss Mole--E.H. Young

I love E.H. Young's books and I hear very good things about Miss Mole.  From what I can tell, it is generally supposed to be the best of her works.  The back cover describes it as her masterpiece and it won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize in 1930.  That is not a prize I have heard of but a prize winning book is a prize winning book.

I also got a couple of books for my daughter.  She has been reading the Melendy books by Elizabeth Enright and we have had a hard time getting hold of the last two books in the series.  She debated having me buy them since she is a bit beyond optimum reading age for them and she thought it would be a waste of money to buy books she would be done with very quickly.  However, I knew she really wanted to read them so I ordered them anyway.  The last one showed up yesterday when she was home sick from school and it kept her happily occupied for a little while.

My daughter kindly shared her cold and sore throat with me but at least I have new books to read while I am sick.  Now if I can just resist the urge to sit on the couch and browse online for even more....

How To Survive A Winter Storm

Snow storm

It is snowing here, again.  And the kids are home, again.  And we can't go anywhere, again.  How do you make the best of another winter storm?

Now obviously the best way to survive a winter storm is to receive a letter informing you that your long-lost Great-Aunt Gertrude has left you a fortune.  Probably that fortune will be dependent on your solving some convoluted mystery that will find you, at some point, standing in an abandoned library as your candle gutters out and you hear footsteps slowly creeping up behind you.  But on the plus side, you will have Aunt Gertrude's fortune and you can fly off to a beautiful island somewhere and lie on the beach while dreaming up ways to spend the rest of her money.

 But now I want to know, did I scream when my candle finally flickered out?  What was I searching for in the abandoned library?  Were the footsteps those of the villain, come to hit me over the head and steal the mysterious paper I just found in the book I am holding?  Or are they the footsteps of the hero, returning from his own investigations in the abandoned tower?  What did he find in the abandoned tower?  So many unanswered questions.

With no suddenly inherited fortune, what can be done to survive the second winter storm in four days?

If possible, provide yourself with a teenager.  Why would you want to do that?  Don't they eat a lot?  And sleep a lot?  And aren't they kind of mouthy?  Well, yes, all those things can be true.  However, teenagers also shovel snow. Shoveling snow is only fun for approximately two and a half minutes.  After that it is just work.  If you have a teenager you can lean on your snow shovel and watch him work, and then, after a suitable interval, you can murmur a few vague words  about the necessity of checking something in the oven and wander back into the house. And believe it or not, your teenager will be relatively happy, because if he works hard enough he might earn a little extra money.  Teenagers are always interested in earning a little extra money to finance their various hobbies.

Secondly, provide yourself with a medium sized child.  Too small children don't work as well.  They can't put their own snow clothes on, they realize they need to go to the bathroom as soon as you put the last mitten on, and they are always convinced their socks are wrinkled in their boots.  Medium sized children don't do any of these things.  They dress themselves, they play outside by themselves, and they are absolutely thrilled when you go outside to build a snow turtle.  Yes, a snow turtle.  The snow was too wet and heavy to make snowballs big enough for a snowman.

girl playing in the snow

She insisted I photograph the turtle and insisted I put it on my blog.  So basically, you can thank her for this post.  She also is trying to convince me that a whole post about the cat is a good idea.  So far, I have resisted, but you have been warned.

If book mail happens to be delivered on a snow day you might manage to forget that it is snowing.  This happened to me on Friday.  Life was good on Friday.  I am waiting for a couple of other books.  If more books can be delivered today during another snowstorm, then I am indeed blessed among humankind.  You don't need to actually read any of the books that get delivered.  They are there to gloat over and possibly photograph because that is the strange kind of thing you do now.

Reading can go either of two ways during a snowstorm.  Either you decide to start that 800 page Victorian novel that you have been meaning to read or you read all the light and frivolous books in the house.  You know the ones, they involve abandoned libraries, guttering candles, and long-lost aunts.

Snow days always require large amounts of your hot drink of choice.  This is because a large portion of the day should be spent sitting on the couch, looking out the window at the swirling flakes, and holding a hot mug in both hands.  Ideally, you should be curled up under an afghan at the time.

And now, if you will excuse me, I am going to drink another cup of tea while waiting to be contacted by long-lost Great-Aunt Gertrude's lawyers.

Snow Day

It is snowing.  The world has the hushed silence of heavy snow with the occasional muffled scraping sound of snow plows on the road in front of the house.  School has been cancelled.  The kids went back to sleep. The cat is sleeping on the back of the couch.   We are home for the day.  It will probably be a day of too much screen time, too many books, (is there such a thing?) and too much baking.   Quite frankly, it sounds blissful.  The wonderful thing about snow days is they create enforced idleness.  There is so much you can't do, so many places you can't go, and all with the perfect excuse.  The kids are home, the roads are bad.  Sorry, it isn't going to happen today.  Bliss.

We just won't think about the fact that it is all going to need to be shoveled.  Or about my husband who has a job that requires him to be out and about in even the worst weather.

Jack the cat

snow storm

tree in the snow

snow covered plants

Here is one more snowy thought for you.  I have said before that I am not much of a poetry person but I stumbled across this yesterday on Pinterest and I liked it.

Dust of Snow

The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree

Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.

Robert Frost

And now I am off to look through my recipes and decide what decadently delicious thing I am going to bake today.  Snow days do not call for healthy foods.  You want to come in from shoveling and sink into something indulgent and preferably chocolate with a big mug of hot chocolate to go with it. The more chocolate the better.

A Few More Books

I found a book today that I am really excited about.  A library near me always has a rack of free books right by the front door.  I pop in now and then because sometimes I find some real treasures.  Today I found something that just made me happy.

Golden Tales of New England

First of all, I just love the cover.  Isn't that fantastic?  I think there is a good chance that I would be perfectly happy if I could just jump inside that scene. I have a bit of a weakness for books set in New England, probably because I am a New Englander myself.  I love the descriptions of areas I know and I understand the reserved, undemonstrative people.  The illustrations are done by Lois Lenski.  I loved some of her books when I was a child.  I wonder if my daughter is too old for them now?  I'll have to look them up.  But anyway, it is full of charming illustrations and fantastic authors.  There are stories by Sarah Orne Jewett, Louisa M. Alcott, and Dorothy Canfield, among others.

Golden Tales of New England

Golden Tales of New England

Golden Tales of New England

See what I mean?  I just really like these.  So I have really high hopes for this book.  I also found a set of four books on the free book rack.

Mystery quartet

Each volume has several novellas to fit the genre of the title.  They also have some authors I enjoy.  For example, Dorothy Sayers and Mignon Eberhart. There is also a book sale room at this library but I didn't find anything down there.  Apparently, they are giving the good stuff away and charging for the junk.

After I stopped at the library I went across the street to  the walk by the river that I do sometimes.  I wanted to take a few pictures of some books.  As you do.  Notice the one at the top of this post, artistically posed on a tree.  It was a gorgeous day, fifty degrees and sunny.

river scene

So that is it, sunshine, unusually warm weather, and some good books.  What more could I ask for?

Should I Read These Books?

book scene

I have a list of books (of course, I always have a list of books.) It is a list of books I should read. Books that well-educated, well-read people read.  You know the books, the ones that frequently end up on lists of Very Important Books.  But they are the books that somehow never get read.  I mean to read them, I should read them, but I don't read them.  I am listing a few here in the hopes that someone will give me a vital reason to read them and become the well-read person I dream of being. Hey, we all have our dreams.

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo.  I have a friend who loves this book.  She raved about it to me and couldn't believe I had never read it.  So I started it, and after valiant effort, I got to something like 47% on my Kindle.  And there I have been for the last year.  Or maybe more.  Some of it I enjoyed.  I would be reading merrily along wondering why I hadn't read this years ago and then all of a sudden I would be bogged down in some long involved explanation of something that, at that moment, seemed to have little to do with the story.  After the tenth or hundredth or millionth time getting bogged down, I put it down and never picked it up again.  Though every time I turn on my Kindle I feel guilty when I see the unfinished line under the book.  Should I give it another try?

War and Peace by Victor Hugo.  I know it is a new BBC miniseries right now so I see a lot of pictures of it and discussions on various book blogs.  I should probably read it someday.  It is another one with rave reviews from people.  But I keep putting it off.  I need someone to convince me of how awesome it is.

Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh.  This is another one I have just never finished.  I don't know why.  In theory, I should like it.  But somehow I always quit partway through. And yes, I have quit more than once.

Anything by Virginia Woolf.  I read Mrs Dalloway a year or so ago.  I am still not sure what I thought of it.  Some of the language was beautiful.  While I was reading it I didn't really think I liked it, but then it stuck in my head for the longest time afterward.  I should probably give her another try.  Can you really call yourself well-read if you haven't read Woolf?

Shakespeare.  Well-educated people read Shakespeare, right?  I have read Shakespeare, I just haven't read as much as I feel I should have.  I enjoy watching his plays be performed but I struggle with reading his works.  I think Shakespeare is one of the few things I would rather sit and read with someone else.  After all, his works are designed to be spoken.  But since my friends would all look at me like I was insane if I suggested sitting around and reading Shakespeare together....yeah, that isn't going to happen.

I know there are a lot more, these are just the ones I could think of right off the top of my head.  I did not include books that are viewed as important but that I have zero interest in (Moby Dick, Heart of Darkness, The Catcher in the Rye.)

Do you have any books you really feel you should read but somehow never get around to? Or maybe never manage to finish? I would love to know what you feel you really should be reading.  I can add them to my list and have more to feel guilty about!