Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Book Settings


I really like this topic! But, to be truthful, my favorite book settings are the ones in my own yet-to-be-published books! So, Southern Indiana in the 20s and 30s, a very woke college campus of today, and an extremely grand country house with an unconventional lord of the manner, his family, and their cat. Yes, cat. Unconventional. In fact, all three books have a strong cat character. And, all have an older man–younger woman romance–though “older” is in keeping with the standards of the books time setting. So, the modern book has a many only about 10 years older.


The Corridors of Power


A Royal Palace


A library or bookshop


Someplace Foodie


A School or University


A War Zone or Military Base


An Ordinary Home






A Non-Western, Non-Northern-Hemisphere, Non-Wealthy Nation

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Top Ten Tuesday Freebie: 10 Books I Read in The Peace Corps between 1989-1991–Fiction


At various times in my life I have kept a reading log. I’ve done so continuously for many years now, but it wasn’t always that way for me. One exception was during my Peace Corps Service–I noted every book I read in m so-called journal. I was not great at introspection and knew I wasn’t doing the best I could so my journal is not very edifying. But that book list! Yes! In two years I read 84 books. The second year, getting books required walking nearly all day after a packed bus ride into town and, if lucky, a ride home or another packed bus back to the gates of the Agricultural Research Station where I lived.

My sources for books were: The National Library of Malawi (the National Librarian was a friend), The British Council, USIS, and the Peace Corps office book shelves. Slim pickings, you say? You are correct. I read anything. There was no TV in Malawi then and the radio was limited to playing songs like The Dave Clark Five’s “Catch us if You Can.” You can guess how great the radio dramas were. I did not have a shortwave. If I did I could have listened to English lessons!

Three by Anne Tyler

I’m counting these as one book since they are all the same author. My math skills have never been great. (I absolutely HATE these covers, by the way!) Celestial Navigation, Breathing Lessons, and The Accidental Tourist.

Tales of The Raj and Empire

I devoured the Raj Quartet! Later I watched the miniseries equally spellbound. FYI: Since I read the one volume omnibus edition, I’m counting it as one book. The Flame Trees of Thika and The Ice Cream War.


I think everyone brought at least one they had never read and figured they’d read now that they had the time. Pride and Prejudice and Vanity Fair.

Significant Others

The Joys of Motherhood, A Far Cry From Kensington, A Town Like Alice, A House for Mr. Biswas.

This period expanded my reading horizons considerably. “Multicultural” was not yet a thing. We went to high school and read Steinbeck and Hemingway, Shakespeare and maybe someone else. In college I was given Malcolm X and theater of the absurd. This expanded my education considerably. Except for the Caldecott Award, I knew nothing yet of literary awards like the Booker Prize or others. The books I read in Peace Corps often introduced me to different cultures, prize winners–you name it. Oh, don’t worry, I read  lot of crap too! I went on to read all of Buchi Emecheta, all of Maya Angelou and more.

Sadly, I was very depressed during part of this time so I had absolutely no memory of reading A Town Like Alice when I listened to it in 2011. It is one of my 5-star, life-time favorite books now. Celestial Navigation was another I have no memory of. Since I love Anne Tyler and she is “must read” for me, I blame depression and not the writing. There were others like that.

Have you read any of these? DId you serve anywhere as a volunteer? What got you started reading about other cultures and other points of view? Leave me a comment or a link to your own post.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Books on My Fall 2021 To-read List

I am a little leery of doing this post. I have a pretty bad track record at actually reading or listening to the books I put in this type post!

New Books

Colson Whitehead has become a “must-read” author, so unless it turns out just not to be for me, I WILL finish Harlem Shuffle.

I enjoyed Naomi Ragen’s The Sisters Weiss and have a few others by her on my TBR, so An Observant Wife is a “likely” read.

Series Books

I plan to treat myself to an Audible subscription. The library’s e-audio books take months to get now. I am truly disgusted thought, with Recorded Books, for changing readers for the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series after 20, yes TWENTY, books! I’ve heard it was over “cultural appropriation.” So, like Sean Connery playing an Arab or Liz Taylor wearing “light Egyptian”-toned makeup to play Cleopatra? Or the “colorblind” casting of Hamilton? 20 books made Lizette Lecar THE Voice of the series. It was ridiculous to toss her out. The new reader has totally changed the personalities. I’ll have to read this one and imagine I’m hearing Lizette read it. The Joy and Light Bus Company by Alexander McCall Smith.

Robert Bathurst (my beloved Sir Anthony of Downton Abbey) is the “new” reader of Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector Gamache series. Sadly, the wonderful first reader died. He got a special tribute from the author to explain the change in readers. Bathurst does his own thing, does not try to mimic the late reader or anything silly like that, but does so in an unoffensive way. I was disappointed in the last Gamache book, so I’m looking forward to this one which is back in Three Pines. The Maddness of Crowds by Louise Penny.

Seasonal Reading

I have so enjoyed reading seasonally this year that I may continue it, if only a little. Here are two I hope will work out for me this Fall.

Possible Choices for Upcoming Reading Challenges

This year I cut back on Challenges to read seasonally, but found myself missing doing them. So, I’ve casually added a couple back in. I plan to do more challenges in 2022. For now I’m thinking about German Lit month again, Nonfiction November which I’ve done many times before, Novellas in November (hopefully a few of these can do for more than one challenge?), and if I can find one, maybe a Christmas book challenge in December.

Leave me comments or links to posts about your favorite reading challenges. I’d love to try some new ones.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Books With Numbers in the Title


I’ve done Top Ten Tuesday so long it is getting hard to find new topics! I’m linking to old posts today. Click on either/both to explore the books I’ve read or mentioned that have numbers in the title–train times are numbers, too!


Top Ten Tuesday: Book Titles with Numbers In Them

Books With Train Times in the Titles: Updated



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Top Ten Tuesday: Books Guaranteed to Put a Smile On Your Face


I admit I like a real “feel good” kind of novel pretty often these days. No shame in that–the country is near Civil War, people are dying everywhere from COVID, travel is limited–we need feel good things right now. Putting a smile on your face is part of helping yourself feel better in sad times. Reading a book to help put it there is even better.


If Judy Leigh can’t put a smile on your face…well, I won’t go there. All of her books are just plain fun. These are stand-alones, not a series (yet–I keep hoping). Heading Over the Hill, Chasing the Sun, The Old Girls Network.


Graeme Simsion’s Rosie Project series will make anyone smile. Oh, Don Tillman!


The Provincial Lady! Oh, I love her! And dear old Robert asleep behind the Times. Some of the Kindle versions are terrible, so read the reviews before buying. And dear Mrs. Tim going where the Regiment sends her husband! So brave! The battle for servants and an end to tinned soup at dinner parties. Absolutely delightful and guaranteed to make you smile. Miss Pettigrew Lives for the Day is a great addition to this era’s smiley books!


Dear Calvin Becker! The fictional persona of Frank (formerly Frankie) Schaeffer, so of Fran and Edith so well-known in the Evangelical world. While I do not think Zermatt is as good as the other two books, Portofinio and Saving Grandma are so fun. Seeing adults and adult life through the eyes of the nearly-forgottten, late born son of famous parents is just fun, plus who can ever forget The Gospel Walnut? The Calvin Becker trilogy.

Stand Alone Novels or essays that will make you smile

Professional poker-play and housewife Helen Ellis is a treat! Southern Lady Code and Bring Your Baggage and Don’t Pack Light will make you laugh and smile. Beth O’Leary’s The Flatshare or The Switch are perfect for cheering you up. And Dear Major Pettirgrew and Mrs. Ali–I smile just thinking of them.


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Top Ten Tuesday: Secondary/Minor Characters Who Deserve More Love


This week’s topic is secondary characters that deserve more love. We can all think of some–those unsung little people in excellent books. Here are some of my favorites, as detailed in past years’ versions of this post.


1. Tristan Farnon

Whether its creating the image of a driver-less car, howling back at a Labrador coming out of anesthesia or magically waking up and shaking a bottle of something to prove he wasn’t sleeping, slacker little brother Tristan Farnon is my all-time favorite minor character. The haze of Woodbine smoke emanating from behind the newspaper, the delight in bell ringers’ and Licensed Victullars’ outings, to prank calls about Clancy “womatting” he is just plain fun. That he has an eye for the ladies and a greater taste for the bottle than for studying for parasitology is all to our luck.


2. Tofu and 3. Cyril


Tofu is little Bertie’s friend at the Steiner School whose mother may or may not have starved to death as a vegan. Tofu is streetwise and speaks his mind. I especially loved it when Tofu announced he was going to make lots of Tablet–a Scottish sweet like fudge and Bertie had, as always, to suffer with his mother’s version of what he should do for their class sale. Cyril is the artist Angus’ dog with the gold tooth. Cyril has his own adventures. Both are awesome minor characters.


4. Will Benteen


A cracker–they knew this as surely as they new the little military school cadet they buried had been a planter’s son, Will stays on at Tara where he landed with exhaustion at the end of the war. A peg leg doesn’t stop him. In the end, to stay at Tara, he marries the nasty O’Hara sister, Suellen (no mistake that you likely started to read this as “sullen”). He was cut out of the movie, but there is a scene of a peg legged soldier with Melanie’s baby, Beau, that is supposedly Will.  He has a much larger role in the book.


5. Charlie



Ever the apprentice, never the mechanic, Charlie eventually tries a new role. It’s his ongoing antagonism of M’Makutzi that keeps and his girl-chasing that always lands him in hot water. But under it all, Charlie has a heart of gold.


6. Miss Gooch



After Beau’s death, Mame decides to write her memoirs and hires a ghost writer, Brian, and a secretary, Miss Agnes Gooch. The very ordinary Miss Gooch lives in Kew Gardens with Mumsie and Edna, but finally loosens up on New Year’s Eve after Mame comes down with a deadly cold and sends her to a party in her stead. Unforgettable.



Of course we all know who my all-time favorite is…..


Downton Abbey’s Sir Anthony Strallan


My Favorite minor DOG characters!



Norman the big, black, cow-sized, farting, loving, protector-dog. All kids who don’t mesh with the so-called popular kids deserve a real animal to love and to be loved and protected by.  Norman went above and beyond the call of duty for his girl. You can read my review here.

One Plus One by JoJo Moyes



Barnabas–Father Tim’s, big dog who can only be calmed with Bible verses! Love the big lug. Jan Karon’s Mitford series.





Anne Tyler is a favorite of mine and this is one of her best books.  I love Edward–the dog who is the catalyst for the story. It is Edward who brings Macon and Muriel together. He was even cooler in the movie since he was played by a tri-colored Corgi.

The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler





Salty is pastry chef Livvy’s wonderful dog who goes to work with her.

City Baker’s Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller






Arthur Guiness–named for the famed brewer of Guiness beer, is a black lab–a big lummox! He retrieves Wellington boots left out on neighbors’ back steps. But Dr. Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly and his housekeeper, Mrs. Kinky Kincaid, couldn’t get along without him

The Irish Country Doctor series


A Bonus dog


Hound Penderwick, loyal companion of Batty–the youngest Penderwick sister. He is the dog every kid should get to grow up with. The Penderwicks series.


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Top Ten Tuesday: Books I’d Want With Me While Stranded On a Deserted Island


Desert Island….hmmmm… no volleyball, no Ginger, Mary Ann, or the Professor. The professor would LOVE my Kindle–I could load it up and he could figure out a way to recharge it with coconut cream pies and sunshine. Guess I’ll need to stick to print books though.



The One

In the 1970s there was a version of the Bible–The Book–and it had a catchy, fast-pasted jingle about “come on America, discover The Book.” (See below). It had it all–“romance and mystery” etc. The ad was right. Weather you read it as literature or read it in faith The Bible has it all. I’d want this version because it has even more–it has maps, explanations, and commentary articles. While it might be nicer to have a side-by-side King James and NIV for the beautiful language of the King James Psalms, I’ll take this version, this translation.

The NIV Life Application Study Bible

Diaries and Letters

I would want a couple of good juicy diaries and letter collections. James Lees-Milne’s diaries in a one volume compilation would be perfect. Lots of juicy gossip. Pepys, too, for I’ve never finished reading his great diary. For letters someone interesting like, Queen Victoria or a Mitford sister or some other erudite person who led an interesting life. A fictional diary or letters collection would be fun–maybe another outing of the Provincial Lady would be a good fit.

Travel Books


Paul Therox always comes to mind, and there are a few of his I haven’t read, but political travel by John Gunther or Martha Gelhorn or Lorena Hickok’s WPA reports would also be good. I’ve got this one going–maybe I’d take it with me? The Grand Tour: Around the World With the Queen of Mystery. Agatha’s travels might just be the thing.


Although I don’t normally review them (because I don’t read them cover-to-cover) I enjoy dipping in and out of cookbooks for part of my reading pleasure. Stuck on Gilligan’s Island with only Mary Ann’s endless Coconut Cream Pies, I’m pretty sure I’d want a cookbook or two to savoir. Here are a couple that have recently caught my eye.

History and Nonfiction

While Prince Harry and his wife are doing their utmost to destroy any interest I have in my royal library (once so lovingly collected) I’d still need some history. Plutarch’s lives or Gibbons Decline and Fall would be ideal–something to really sink my teeth into. I’d likely want something from on the Civil War, WWI and WWII as well. A biography or two. Maybe some other type of nonfiction. And, of course, I’d want my favorite historical couples along, so Nicky and Alix would be there.

Music, Comedy, and Fun stuff


Books of Noel Coward’s plays and lyrics, songbooks of the Beatles, Doonesbury cartoons, Far Side cartoons and maybe one silly book like a Mad Libs. Maybe my Catmas Carols book or some cat poetry, too.

Some Beauty


,A book of photos of Jeremy Irons, George Clooney, Simon Williams and a few others to dine with. The Edwardian Lady’s books, would be a lovely thing to look at–to remind me of the seasons. An art book or two. a book of country house pictures, when my hut grows dreary. A nice book of horses, dogs, and cats would be perfect company just about any day.

A Box of Old Friends

Scarlett & Rhett, Ralph & Meggie,  Kerry & Missy, Auntie Mame, James Herriot and friends, Calin Becker, The Ladies of the Club, and so many others who would cheer me up when I got too lonely. My own characters, from my yet-to-be-published books would be my greatest comfort though.



I’d miss my series books–The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency and Chief Inspector Gamache most of all, but in addition to the favorites box, I’d need some fiction I’ve never read before, too. War and Peace would fill the bill well. Proust perhaps, too. So many great authors I haven’t gotten to yet–any of them could make the journey with me.

Would you pick any of these? Leave me a comment. Or give me the link to your TTT post.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Read In One Sitting (or would have if I had the time)


I’ve been doing Top Ten Tuesday for so long this is my third time through this topic!

2017’s One Sitting post

2020’s One Sitting post

A few that got missed, or are new, or whatever!



This book has some special touches that resonated so much with me! Here is the  link to my review: Here Lies the Librarian by Richard Peck.

To find my review just search the title here on my blog. Sorry, I ran out of time to post links this week.


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Top Ten Tuesday: Book Titles That are Questions


I’ve only read a few of these:

If Life is a Bowl of Cherries, What Am I Doing in the Pits? by Erma Bombeck

Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson and Ken Blanchard

Why Can’t Somebody Just Die Around Here? by Gerhard Maroscher

Does This Beach Make Me Look Fat? by Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella

I’ve read others by the great Aloise Buckley Heath, sister of William F. Buckley and aunt to Christopher Buckley. I’ve read a few of Christopher’s books, too, though not the one included in this post. I’ve read another book by David Lodge and several by Agatha Christie. I do need to give Dorothy Sayers a try.


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