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Top Ten Tuesday: Places In Books I’d Love to Live

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The Houses

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Gatsby’s Mansion on Long Island. Yes, I too loathe movie tie-in covers, but this is like my copy–with Robert Redford in what was called an “ice cream” suit due to the colors. It’s a gorgeous movie. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

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I’d love to live in an amazing tree house like the one in Swiss Family Robinson by Johann Wyss. Take my advice, read THIS translation and toss the Scholastic Book Club version. I am all for the Scholastic Book Club, but they did this one dirty!

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Glenbogle Castle in Scotland sounds good, if you can keep warm! I loved the t.v. show except for the awful last season. I started the book earlier this year but can’t find it. When I find it again I’ll finish it. Monarch of the Glen by Compton McKenzie.

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The family’s retreat in Texas sounded good. Was there a lake? BBQ goes well with a lake. I’ll take it. I’d love to live in THEIR White House or THEIR Kensington Palace, too, of course! Red, White, & Royal Blue: A Novel by Casey McQuiston.

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The actual house of this story doesn’t fare too well (no spoilers) but ANY Frank Lloyd Wright house would be a joy! This book was my very favorite of the year it was published. Loving Frank by Nancy Horan.

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I wasn’t impressed with the book, but I’ll take the Churchill’s country home, Chartwell, any day! Lady Clementine: A Novel by Marie Benedict.

The Community or Neighborhood

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Either the family home or the flat in London–both have a great community. The Switch: A Novel by Beth O’Leary.

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This neighborhood! These ladies get along and support each other! The Wildwater Walking Club: A Novel (Book One) by Claire Cook.

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Their rented townhouse might be a “tip” (i.e. a “dump”) but they have great neighbors–I’d love that! Heading Over the Hill by Judy Leigh

The Scenery

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Imagine how beautiful a home in the mountains would be! I loved being in the Rocky Mountains, the Blue Ridge, and the Smokey Mountains. The Eight Mountains: A Novel by Paolo Cognetti.

Why not join the fun next week? You can read the rules here.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Spring TBR Possibilities

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First, my apologies! I looked at the schedule and got the wrong topic last week. So, if you missed my

Funny Book Titles TTT post,

just click on the linked words to go to last week’s post.

Second, my Spring TBR. I’m reading seasonally this year as one of my reading strategies. A few of my books are on-going and will take all year as I read them in each month or season covered. I’m not listing those. I am, however, listing a couple of possibilities for the upcoming 1936 Book Club challenge.

Yes, I’ve listed more than 10 books. Inevitably something will disappoint or not come in on time or I just won’t be in the mood for one or more at the moment I start a new book. So “possibilities” rather than an exact TBR.

Some Spring Reading Choices

1936 Book Club possibilities

Read more about the 1936 Book Club event here.

Fiction Possibilities

Some new, and two from back lists Or I may not read any of these–too often when I do these posts I then don’t read the book!

Nonfiction Possibilities

I have received a few gifts of nonfiction and have bought some. Maybe I should read them? Or not!

Other Possibilities

Checklist Manifesto was recommended by the co-worker with whom I read Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Perez. Feasting Wild just caught my attention as an interesting sounding foodie book. The collection of essays called Laundry Love gets a try because a) laundry is the one housekeeping chore other than cooking that I’m good at and that give me satisfaction and , b) I’ve been enjoying essays for a change so I’ve kept looking for more. Matthew Mc Conaughey’s book is “out there” for me, but two very different people I know in person and one YouTuber I like, Christine of Frugal Fit Mom, have all recommended it so I decided to at least try it.

Why not join the fun next week? You can read the rules here.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Spring Cleaning Freebie: Books About Keeping House

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This week’s subtitle is “for example, books you’re planning to get rid of for whatever reason, book’s you’d like to clean off your TBR by either reading them or deciding you’re not interested, books that feel fresh and clean to you after winter is over, etc.)” but I’ve decided to go with actual Spring Cleaning and our homes!

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Before Pinterest was created to teach us everything about anything in the home, I found this gem of a book and applied it. It was news to me that a lot of this could happen! I knew that baking stuff should be near baking stuff in the kitchen and that glasses went near the dishwasher but that was about it. My Mom was a big-tme messie back then. No chores, no place or everything. I was winging it in my young adult years and failing. I devoured this book. It is still worth a read if you are struggling with household organization. Link is to the newer edition of Confessions of a Happily Organized Family.

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The Fly Lady is an internet phenomenon who teaches women to be totally anal about house cleaning. I’m a Fly Lady dropout multiple times, but she’s always there to get me back at time. The baby steps include putting on grown up clothes down to the shoes and bleaching and shinning your sink. It helps. Sink Reflections (just go to her website http://www.flylady.net/).

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I still love this show–I find episodes on youtube and love it. This is the book. The teach you about what a lemon can do for your bathroom and other great stuff.  The show is one I turn to when I need motivation to clean. How Clean is Your House.

 

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Before Martha, there was Edith. Edith Shaeffer the wife of all Christian wives! She did it all–including traveling with her hubby because he had headaches if he didn’t engage in marital sport daily. That’s a major league wife. Never mind that her son wrote hilarious send-up novels about it all (see The Calvin Beck trilogy--highly recommended). I thought I’d given my copy away, but my eyes landed upon it on the bookshelf where it has always been just the other day. And while I do like to poke good-natured fun at poor Edith, I did love the book. The subtitle: Ideas for Creating Beauty in Everyday Life means much more than pouring the tea you bought at the gas station soda fountain into a real glass before sitting down to dinner. She has great ideas for what used to be known as “gracious living.” Yes, it is still relevant. Just because dinner came via Grub Hub or you made it from a gourmet meal kit (or you are seving breakfast cereal for the 4th time this week) doesn’t mean you can be environmentally conscious AND gracious at the same time and use cloth dinner napkins. There. See? The Hidden Art of Homemaking by Edith Shaeffer.

 

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Another pre-Pinterest, pre-Google title that helped me. I only got it from the library, but it helped.  How to Clean Practically Anything.

 

Admit it, you rolled your eyes at this topic KNOWING she’d be here–am I right? Of course! I remember being amazed at an early episode of her t.v. show (pre-prison) where she made sugared fruits. She remined me of my decorator/OCD cousin–at that point the only person I knew who decorated for EVERY holiday, though Casimir Pulaski Day was tough until those frozen piroghies came out. Martha’s GOOD THINGS cover most of what no one would bother doing, but in among it there are GREAT tips for real people, like putting tags on the ends of your mattress so you know how to flip them each corner. I’ve done this and my expensive mattress has lasted over 20 years. Martha Stewart’s Homekeeping Handbook and Martha Stewart’s Organizing.

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Meal Planning and being prepared for unexpected guests is another task we have to master. Spring Cleaning also means cleaning out the freezer. What to do with that lone pork chop or those 2 servings of lasagna of dubious vintage is as concerning as how to clean the hinges on the toilet seat. Meal planning saves a ton of time, money, and (weight) pounds.  Before “meal prep” became a thing with cute little containers, and while these are pretty normal suburban Midwest meals, this is how I discovered freezer cooking. Today you can find every cuisine under the sun done up for freezer cooking. Having meals stashed in the freezer helps with Spring Cleaning because you don’t have to stop to cook.  I do not like froezen casseroles with pasta because the pasta gets mushy, but I LOVE the marinades to freeze chicken or other meat in! So great. This saves time so you CAN, yes you CAN pull everything out of that dreaded corner pan cabinet [she says looking in the mirror] and declutter and organize it as well as clean it. FYI–my version of this book is in a yellow 3 ring binder from way, way back. They’ve retired now, but this version is still available. I saw them on their debut tour at the Indianapolis Pike library decades ago.  30 Day Gourmet Freezer Cooking Manual.

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This one is on my TBR, but I like the sound of it. I remember how it took us basically 20 minutes to decide what to keep of my Grandmother’s 90 or so years of life when she had to move to an Alzheimer’s facility. When I go to my favorite thrift shop they have countless examples of stuff people held onto for the wrong reasons. Aunt Mildred gave you that pickle fork for a wedding gift in 1947 and then she died in ’51 and you STILL have it though it has been out of the box once? Yeah. That sort of thing. The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning.

Another show I turn to when I need cleaning motivation is HOARDERS. I’ve chosen this book to represent the show. Hoarders are people who cannot let go of anything. Candy wrappers, used Kleenex, 60 years of newspapers–that kind of thing. It’s a good visual when you need motivation. The Secret Lives of Hoarders by Matt Paxton.

 

Part of Spring Cleaning should be Spring Fixing. That wonky chair leg. The dripping facet in the bathroom–that sort of stuff needs to be fixed. Even in the world of YouTube and how-to videos, I still think owning a book like this is a good investment. I have a friend who was forced to learn to replace what connects her house to the sewer. She did it because financially she had no other choice. There are times when you just bit the financial bullet and call a pro so you don’t waste more money, but there are times when yes, you can fix it. I recommend the youtube videos, but a book like this–look for one at a thrift store, age isn’t important, can give you important background information. Ultimate Guide to Home Repair.

 

Why not join the fun next week? You can read the rules here.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Characters Whose Job I Wish I Had or Jobs I’d Like to Have In Various Books and one TV Show

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I’d love to be the librarian in this story–that influential school librarian who made such a difference that she was the librarian of the midnight library–the guide and coach. I loved this book. I am a librarian, but not a school librarian and never considered being one, but my high school librarian was a great source of encouragement in all areas of life. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig.

 

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I grew up in love with horses then fell in love with books, and finally became a librarian so being one of the librarians on horseback would have been a dream job. Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Michelle Richardson.

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Martha Gelhorn is enjoying quite a renaissance right now. I’d love to have been a war correspondent in World War II London and Europe.  The Race For Paris: A Novel by Meg Waite Clayton.

I would have loved to write for the WPA! Imagine–the state guide series the WPA produced are classics today. Both of these books, one a novel, one nonfiction, deal with different projects of the WPA Writer’s Project. The Truth According to Us: A Novel by  Annie Barrows and The Food of the Younger Land by Mark Kurlansky

I have a manuscript going out to agents this year that features a bookmobile at the start. I think that qualifies me to drive one, don’t you? Plus, my college BFF’s mom drove her town’s bookmobile for many years–the lady could parallel park a tractor with two grain trailers attached!  Now, the bookmobile in this book stops at a rather more important address: Buckingham Palace! While I’d rather be head of the Royal Archives at Windsor, helping a certain little old lady with a headscarf and pocket book to choose reading material would be fascinating without doubt! An Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennet.

 

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Oh to have been a researcher in the Bartlett White House!! The adrenaline rush! I wanted to work as a Congressional staffer, but in ’84 I’d never heard the phrase “policy wonk”(and didn’t have the money to move), but oh the Withe House! Amazing! The Congressional Research Services is a dream as well.

I have a work in progress about a great landed estate, I love that world. I would have loved to have been the personal librarian of a wealthy industrialist or aristocrat. Imagine carte blanche to collect on a subject or subjects? Wow! The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro.

 

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I spent most of my Peace Corps daily job time cataloging a backlog of books in agricultural research station libraries. I find cataloging kind of mind-numbing, but for this book shop I’d gladly have sat there and cataloged. Even with rationing going on. I’d love to have gone on buying trips, but given the times and being a woman, I’m pretty sure Frank would have done that–not me. 84 Charing Cross Road by Helen Hanff.

 

I spent many years as a law librarian in law firms and previously worked as support staff in a law school library. To work in the law library at Harvard might just be a Holy Grail, but then so to would be working at the main office of an enormous international law firm. The Supreme Court? I’d probably have to have a J.D. and don’t want to do that. I think, honestly, the international law firm would be my preference. The Paper Chase by John Jay Osborn. The Associates John Jay Osborn. Biglaw by Lindsay Cameron. The Brethren by Woodward & Bernstein.

 

These were two of my favorite books read in high school. I’d love to have been the librarian at the fictitious Devon School in A Separate Peace or at Deerfield, where Johnny was a student in real life. Imagine the influential parents–in those days the fathers, but maybe a few famous mothers as well. I’d love to have helped Johnny’s father, influential journalist John Gunther, with his research. How many other fathers would have liked a helpful librarian? Like the lawyers I worked for, I’m sure none would see me as anything more than “the help” so no harm in the relationship to their treasured way of living. But, what fascinating assignments could I have had? Can I please be forgiven for now confusing these two with the school where Jeb Bartlett’s father was Headmaster and Delores Landingham was the secretary? Death Be Not Proud by John Gunther.

And the big duh

Yes, of course, I’d want to work at Hogwarts. I’ve had the hottest crush on Malfoy’s Dad for years and years. Oh my… Pass me that misting fan of Blanche’s from the Golden Girls!

 

Why not join the fun next week? You can read the rules here.

 

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Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Made Me Laugh Out Loud

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Once again, I’ve challenged myself not to go back to the old favorites. So, no Patrick Dennis (Auntie Mame and The Joyous Season are my two favorite funny books). Not Changing Places by David Lodge–another old favorite. Only “newer” funny books. No Bailey White. I so hate leaving out the gospel walnut, but no Calvin Becker trilogy.And not A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, either.You can read about some of those HERE.

Here are some of my newer favorites

(Not in any ranked order)

Helen Ellis, of “What I Do All Day”-fame on Twitter, is a bright light in the last gloomy year for me. Her stuff is just plain funny. Southern Lady Code and American Housewife. Her new essay collection comes out in July. I can’t wait.

These three delightful British ladies from the late twenties to the post-war years have become firm friends of mine. Whether it’s poor Miss Pettigrew getting sucked into the world of society, or Mrs. Tim making due on an Army officer’s between-the-wars-pittance of a paycheck , or the dear Provincial Lady with her husband falling asleep behind the Times–I love all three.

Diary of a Provincial Lady by E.M. Delafield and The Provincial Lady Goes Further by E.M. Delafield. Mrs. Tim of the Regiment by D.E. Stevenson and Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson.

This epistolary novel (i.e. told in letters or emails, etc.) is hilarious if you are familiar with academic life. If you’ve ever worked, at any level, in a college or university you will laugh out loud at this. Dear Committee Members: A Novel by Julie Schumacher.

Mother and daughter duo Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella are like old friends–that’s how many of their collections of essays/columns/blogposts I’ve listened to. I love these, though I’d advise skipping the election ones from when Trump ran the first time–no one needs to re-live that year or last year. (Though there humor is not offensive). These are just fun.

I see Life Through Rose-Colored Glasses (contains links to past review, too).

Need more? Here’s 100 Funny Books from NPR

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Top Ten Tuesday: Purple, Yellow, and/or Green Book Covers in honor of Mardis Gras, which is today!

 

 

First, A Few Books Set In New Orleans

My review of Dollbaby was lost in a crash of my old blog, but on Goodreads I gave it 4 stars and still remember the story so that’s a great recommendation! My reviews of  The Yellow House and of Five Days at Memorial,

 

New Orleans Public Library’s Carnival Collection

Click here to view the Carnival Collection

 

A Few Children’s Madi Gras Books

 

Nancy Drew Even Loved Madi Gras

Some Grown-Up Madi Gras Books

 

 

Now the Book Covers In Green, Yellow, and Purple

 

 

 

Do you or your family celebrate during Madi Gras? Have you read any good books set in New Orleans or set during carnival and Mardi Gras? Do you bake a King Cake? Leave me a comment or a link to your post.

Quick King Cake from Betty Crocker recipe

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Top Ten Tuesday: Valentine’s Day/Love Freebie OLDER Couple Romances

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Inspiration for my topic came from Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Books With Couples Who Met After Age 30. The books listed here are all ones I’ve read. And, the couples are beyond 40 years old or more.

Our Souls At Night by Kent Haruf

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This novel is almost perfect. It is a classic. Two lonely people, in a lonely small Colorado town, Addie and Louis, are drawn together to stare down the dark of night, find love.  Our Souls At Night by Kent Haruf.

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson

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There is just too much to love about Major Pettigrew and Mrs. Ali! From the pitch-perfect dialogue, to the very real emotions discussed, to the love that they find. This is one of my favorite novels of this century.Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand: A Novel by Helen Simonson (link is to my review).

The Old Girls’ Network by Judy Leigh

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Judy Leigh makes being “older” fun! This lively novel involves two sisters and some good old romance. Old Girls Network by Judy Leigh (link is to my review).

The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler.

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This great Anne Tyler novel has two older romances going. While the one might feature a woman on the shy-side of 40 all of the other 3 are over 40. Macon, finds new love, and his henpecked sister finds first and lasting love. The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler.

The Switch by Beth O’Leary

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This one has a romance at both ends of the age spectrum! Grandma and Granddaughter find love in this fun story. The Switch by Beth O’Leary (link is to my review).

Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson

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This gentle love story, told through letters, is a new favorite of mine. Tina Hopgood is an ignored farm wife while widower Anders Larsen is a curator at a museum in Denmark. A single letter of inquiry by Tina starts the ball rolling. Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson (link is to my review).

The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith

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Precious Ramotswe, the Botswana’s first lady detective, finds love with Mr. J.LB. Matekoni, owner of Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors. These books are annual treat for me. No 1 Ladies Detective Agency is the first book.

Jan Karon’s Mitford series

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Father Tim (he’s an Episcopal priest, not Catholic) and his author-illustrator-neighbor Cynthia fall in love, marry, and live a wonderful life in the fictitious Mitford, North Carolina. Two series of books, a super cookbook, and more comprise this huge series. The cast of characters surrounding Father Tim and Cynthia is large, colorful, and unforgettable. I’ve loved every minute spent read these books. The first book is At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon.

The Cherry Cola Book Club series by Ashton Lee

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Miss Voncille Nettles lost her fiance in Vietnam and has stayed single, still in love with him. Locke Linwood had a happy marriage until his wife died. The two come together aided by the Cherry Cola Book Club at the public library in Cherico, Mississippi. This series is wonderful. A feisty young librarian, a dastardly politician, and all kinds of local Southern charm. And food. Oh the food! Oh my! The first book is: The Cherry Cola Book Club by Ashton Lee.

Waltzing at the Piggly-Wiggly series by Robert Dalby

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Dance instructor Powell Hampton and widow Laurie Lepanto waltz their way to love in Second Creek, Mississippi, where there is a Miss Delta Floozy Contest with it’s own theme song, “She’s a Doozy, she’s a floozy….” The dancing is in aid of the local independent grocery story run by Mr. Choppy. A merry group of widows calling themselves the “Nitwits” organize everything in the town including the fun. This is a small series, book one is Waltzing at the Piggly-Wiggly by Robert Dalby

Why not join the fun next week? You can read the rules here.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Books I’ve Loved That Were Written Before I Was Born

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I’ve tweaked this week’s topic. I made it books I’ve enjoyed that were written before JFK was president. (I was born in 1962). I also tried to NOT use the same old books I always use. And, I stuck to fiction only.

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Dick Francis published Dead Cert in 1962, so Alan York and I arrived on the world scene the same year. This is the first of his racing murder mystery novels.

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Barbara Pym’s Excellent Women was an absolute treat to read. Published in 1952, the year of Queen Elizabeth’s long ago ascension to the throne, it is still a fun read.

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All of the Miss Read books are wonderful, but this is the very first one. It is utterly charming. How I wish children could enjoy such a school today. Village School by Miss Read was published in 1955.

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Passing by Nella Larsen was published in 1929, but is enjoying a resurgence of interest among readers today. The ideas of what is race and what is culture are consuming us all right now. It is a short, but good, read and does generate a lot of ideas.

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Published in 1928, World War I poet, Siegfried Sasson’s wonderful fictionalized autobiography (or should that be autobiographical novel?) Memoirs of a Fox Hunting Man is a delight. The Edwardian life of a young man without great means, but with good-enough lineage.

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Lady Audley’s Secret still holds its allure, in spite of turning 100 the year of my birth.

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Published in 1957, A House in the Country features a group of friends who go together to take a country manor house on.

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Naturalist and write Gene (short for Geneva) Stratton Porter was one of the best selling authors of the early 20th century. A Girl of the Limberlost is one of several of her books I’ve enjoyed reading in the last several years. It concerns a young woman desperate for an education.  In 2015 a friend and I visited one of her two homes in Indiana. You can read about that visit HERE.

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A teenage boy who freaks out when a girl tries to sit on his lap because he is wearing his father’s old suit? A delightful, if somewhat dotty, mother who adores father and their 4  boys is just one of the reasons this book from 1935 (but set in 1890’s fashionable New York). The movie is good, too. Life With Father by Clarence Day, Jr.

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Oh the poor Vicar! He and his family were really in it, weren’t they? Published 10 years before the signing of the Declaration of Independence, this was a surprisingly lively read. The Vicar of Wakefield by Oliver Goldsmith.

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Top Ten Tuesday: New-to-Me Authors I Read in 2020

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The first four of my new-to-me authors got me to try things I would rarely read or that might have put me off at antohter time.

  1. Anna Burns–I loved her creative way of naming her characters.
  2. Susanna Clarke–got me to read a sort-of fantasy novel.
  3. Matt Haig–got me to read another sort-of fantasy novel, albeit about a library.
  4. Edwindge Danticat–got me to enjoy short stories.

The other authors wrote the type stories I normally enjoy, though Denis Johnsson’s book was darker than I normally read. I realize when it comes to fiction I tend to stick to female authors. It was good to read more male fiction writers this year–as you can see several in this list are men. I value their perspectives.

  1. Lucy Foley
  2. E.M. Forester
  3. Denis Johnson
  4. Antoine Laurain
  5. Judy Leigh
  6. Colm Toibin

I went with authors who have already published a second or subsequent book.