what I read in March 2020

A Warning by Anonymous
Yet more confirmation that Trump and the current American government are just as awful and dysfunctional as they seem.
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
I’m not sure about all the magic stuff, but she has a lot of really smart advice on living a creative life.
Bowls by America’s Test Kitchen
Lots of appealing ideas.
Bunny by Mona Awad
Audiobook. Weird, but I liked it.
Everyday Decorating by Jeffrey Bilhuber
Not my style.
Find Your Pleasure by Cynthia Loyst
Fine (if somewhat common sense) advice on self-care, but good grief, the book is half photographs of her.
Grit by Angela Duckworth
Audiobook. Really interesting food for thought on how and why to work on one’s grit. Do hard things.
Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson
Very enjoyable. My kind of book.
Period Repair Manual by Lara Briden
Includes some seriously outdated information on nutrition, but her repeated recommendation to take magnesium checks out with other things I’ve read.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Needed this after A Warning. Absolute perfection.
Recipe for a Perfect Wife by Karma Brown
Audiobook. Dual narrators are not my favourite device because one is inevitably weaker than the other and I end up wishing the dud’s part had been discarded entirely.
Things in Jars by Jess Kidd
A super-stylised gothic detective story. Intriguing and entertaining.
Ultimate Veg by Jamie Oliver
Yeah, I’ll try some of these.

 

 

comments I’d like to leave on Facebook

1. You are older than eight so it’s time to learn how to use your and you’re correctly. Same goes for their, there and they’re. Please.
2. Thank you for posting this unsourced slab of text that claims COVID-19 can be diagnosed by whether or not you can hold your breath for 10 seconds and how if you can’t, you are obviously positive, but not to worry because it can be quickly and easily treated by gargling salt water for another 10 seconds. It’s so weird that the World Health Organization doesn’t promote these techniques.
3. LOVE your post about supporting small, local businesses. Did you know I have a small, local business and that you could help support it by following, liking or sharing my posts? That’s still a no from you, huh? Awesome, thanks so much.
4. Yes, I do love my daughter/son/husband/mother/father/dog, but no, I will not re-post that ugly graphic to tell everyone this. I’m going to go ahead and assume they already know.
5. Yes, I am already aware of cancer/depression/anxiety/arthritis/dementia, but no, I will not re-post that spelling error-ridden screed to show I think they are bad. I’m going to go ahead and assume we all think they’re bad.
6. No, I do not think that adorable little girl with Down syndrome or baby covered in breathing tubes or child amputee is ugly. But I also don’t need to share their photos to assure people of this. I’m going to go ahead and assume people know I’m not a monster.
7. I’m so glad for you that you enjoy all those endless questionnaires about your favourite class in high school and childhood nickname and the town where you grew up and so on. But you can just do those in your head, you know. Even if you aren’t contributing to data harvesting, they convey a certain…what’s the word…self-obsession?
8. I couldn’t agree more with all the ‘Stay Home and Save Lives’ banners and images you’ve been sharing. What’s funny, though, is that every single person I’ve seen posting these is someone who has just come back from a trip. Guess what? I was staying home. You were the one out there disregarding all the warnings.
9. Sorry, but I don’t care what colour your aura is or which Harry Potter character you are or what your job was in a past life. Nobody cares. Please stop clogging our timelines with this crap.
10. Just a heads-up: At the end of a sentence, all you need is a period. Like that one, right there behind me. Ooh, there’s another one. Adding a dash of punctuation here and there makes your unhinged rant more readable, but you don’t need 15 periods between each thought, which makes your already lengthy diatribe even lengthier. Just one period and one space after it. Go on and give it a try.

on reading perhaps more than average

Once in a blue moon, someone penetrates my self-isolation bubble–not from COVID-19; I’ve loved the hermit lifestyle since way before it was legally mandated—to observe that I read a lot. Sometimes these people offer a few words of admiration before launching into a litany of all the reasons why they could never spend so much time reading and sometimes they scoff at my devotion to a hobby they deem worthless. (While never considering that I might feel the same about their obsession with getting manicures, binge-watching reality television or trying to get noticed by celebrities on Facebook.)

So, for future reference, I hereby list the reasons why I can read as much as I do:

  1. My children are mostly grown. Not having to wait hand and food on mouthy little tyrants frees up approximately 65 hours a day.
  2. The library. I buy as many books as I can, but rely heavily on borrowing. Having worked in a few libraries for half a dozen years, I don’t buy into the librarian-hero-worship that’s popular at the moment, but they are invaluable for anyone who needs to read and is not a millionaire.
  3. I prioritise. Read or wash the kitchen floor? Read, duh. Read or work on the taxes? Read, double duh. Read or watch Doc Martin? Watch Doc Martin. Then read.
  4. Know when to quit. This is a work in progress because, after all these years, I still have a hard time shaking this mysterious belief that I should finish everything I start. Who cares? There are no prizes for persisting with something that sucks.
  5. Audiobooks. Yes, they count as reading and disregard anyone who says they don’t. (Same goes for e-books versus paper. Format snobs are such a bore.) Audiobooks can be a bit unreliable because some narrators are terrible, but when you get a good one, it’s wonderful. I spend at least a couple hours every day doing dishes, cooking, wiping counters, folding laundry, watching the dogs poop in the yard, riding the exercise bike, picking up after slobby family members, brushing and flossing, et cetera, and now all that time is also reading time. Bingo!
  6. I accept my lack of interest in impressing others. I just can’t bring myself to read things that might be really smart, but boring. Or worthy and important, but super-depressing. Or highly praised and touted, but for no discernible reason. Until the day I get paid to read, I’ll choose what I like.

what I read in February 2020

Cozy White Cottage by Liz Marie Galvan
More of the same look that all the decorating books are about now. White-painted everything. A few black or tan accessories. Zero personality.
Food in Jars Kitchen by Marisa McClellan
I doubt I’ll ever be able to make enough preserves to use in baking and cooking, but if I did, I’d try some of these recipes.
Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley (Audiobook)
Great premise; super-weird narrative technique of one person relating someone else’s story who is in turn relating someone else’s story who is in turn relating someone else’s story. Also, the monster had incredible language skills for having picked it up by eavesdropping.
Free to Focus by Michael Hyatt
Useful advice if you just so happen to be an executive with a desk job and subordinates to whom you can assign things. Not all that useful for anyone else.
JOMO Knits by Christina Boggis
Very simple and huge gauge-knits that don’t look like they’d last more than a couple wearings.
The Make Ahead Vegan Cookbook by Ginny Kay McMeans
Some recipes worth trying.
Making a Life by Melanie Falick
Very inspiring look at people with creatively fulfilling lifestyles.
My Scotland by Val McDermid
I’ve never read any of McDermid’s books and I’m not sure I ever will, but I enjoyed the photographs of Scotland.
The New Frontier by Ree Drummond
No cookbook should be 50% photographs of the author’s children.
The Plantiful Plate by Christine Wong
Fine.
She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey (Audiobook)
Both excellent and so, so depressing.
Taste of Home Handmade Christmas
Crafts, not food. A few cute ideas.
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (Audiobook)
It’s been a while, but I still love it.
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (Audiobook)
Amazing. 10/10.
Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything by BJ Fogg
Very good. I am trying his technique, to varying degrees of success.
Two Crows Sorrow by Laura Churchill Duke
Based on a true, local, depressing story. I think it would have been stronger if it had been presented as creative non-fiction instead of a fictionalised novel. It also needed a much more thorough proofreading.
Watching You Without Me by Lynn Coady
Having seen so many descriptions of this as ‘scary’ and ‘spooky’, I almost didn’t bother, expecting it to be some kind of horror thing. But I had faith in Lynn Coady and it was justified. Very good storytelling.
When We Were Vikings by Andrew David MacDonald (Audiobook)
Yet another buzzed-about book that didn’t quite hit the mark for me. It was okay.
Your Best Home by Joe Snell
Your best home is apparently very modern in style and sparse in possessions.