Random thoughts

Olive the cat
Olive the cat in the casita.

What’s that sound?

I was sitting in the casita writing with Olive the cat on my lap when “knock knock knock” sounded on the wall. The kitty leaped and tore out of the room. I quickly followed the cat into my husband’s office.

I told him what happened and he went outside to investigate. He came back empty handed, so I guess it was a bird? Maybe a woodpecker.

book cover for Marjorie Post

Book Club

I finished reading my book club selection in a few days. I dedicated time to get it done, plus it was a pleasant, easy read. I was fascinated with the story about the Post cereal heiress and her extravagant life. Her father, C.W. Post, who changed how America ate breakfast with Grape Nuts, raised his only child Marjorie to be a hard worker and ready to take over his business. But as a woman, she didn’t have the right to vote, let alone sit on a Board of Directors. She ran the company, which became General Foods, by proxy — through men including a husband and a friend of her father’s.

I told my husband about the story and he mentioned a TV show called “The Food that Built America.” I watched an episode that included Marjorie Post when she bought Birdseye frozen foods. It also highlighted the dueling Mars and Hershey’s companies.

Movie Day

A neighbor I have never met texted and invited me to her home for movie day. She said the movie is “Lion.” I’ve never seen it, but it sounds interesting. I was instructed to bring a salad. I agreed to go because I am trying everything out to see what I enjoy and to meet people.

A funny thing happened yesterday. This neighbor sent a long winded text going through all the details she’s doing to prepare for movie day –everything from cleaning, cooking to getting her hair done. She sent it to the invitees. Then she texted again embarrassed saying she thought she was texting her daughter!

I have one of the most embarrassing text snafus to share. But I’ll save it for another day!

What are some of the mistakes you’ve made with texts or emails? Have you been on the receiving end of a text error?

It’s a struggle

book cover of "The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post by Allison Pataki
Book club selection for July.

I’m trying to be open-minded about book club. I joined wanting to meet people in my neighborhood. Plus, I had never been in a book club before. Several of my friends from Palm Springs were in book clubs and they tried to get me to join. I always shied away for various reasons — not enough time, not wanting to be assigned a book, wanting to read what I want on my own schedule…

You can read about my first impressions of book club HERE.

I got an email yesterday from the woman who is hosting July’s book club. She asked which date next week would be good for “The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post,” by Allison Pataki.

Yikes. This is the first time I heard the title. I’m thinking I missed an email with the book selection — or she announced the title at the last meeting which I didn’t attend due to vacation. Or, the entire book club is getting one week’s notice to order and read the book.

I’ve ordered it from Amazon. I’m going to give it my best effort because it does look like a book I’d enjoy. I also downloaded it to Audible. It’s a little over 14 hours long. But once again I’m struggling with book club and wondering if it’s more annoying than fun?

Have you read “The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post?” How much time do you think book club should give people to read a book? How does your book club work with book selections?

I almost quit reading

Eudora Welty, Delta Wedding bookcover

I’ve been struggling reading the book “Delta Wedding.” I almost put it down for good. But then I decided to give it one more try the day I skipped lap swimming. I was going to start my book club assigned book “Less” by Andrew Sean Greer.

I finally got caught up into the story about plantation life in the Mississippi Delta in the 1920s. I’ve never read Eudora Welty before. My son recommended the book and said it was his favorite assigned book in college.

It’s literary fiction which is code to mean there’s no plot. Or, as Wikipedia says “Literary Fiction is character-driven rather than plot-driven and examines the human condition.”

The writing is detailed and beautiful. It accurately depicts life on a plantation. I finally figured out who all the characters are which was confusing at first. There are three generations in the Fairchild family. Some of the characters in different generations have the same first names. There are eight children in the family and one of the daughters is getting married. Hence the title, “Delta Wedding.”

Here’s another bit from Wikipedia:

Delta Wedding is a 1946 Southern fiction novel by Eudora Welty. Set in 1923, the novel tells of the experiences of the Fairchild family in a domestic drama-filled week leading up to Dabney Fairchild’s wedding to the family overseer, Troy Flavin, during an otherwise unexceptional year in the Mississippi Delta.

A New York Times Review from 1946:

The interplay of family life, with a dozen different people saying and doing a dozen different things all at the same time, is wonderfully handled by Miss Welty so that no detail is lost, every detail had its place in the pattern of the whole. The transitions are so smoothly made that you seem to be all over the place at once, knowing the living members of three generations and all the skeletons and ghosts.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delta_Wedding

What books have you struggled with that you ended up loving? Why would you put a book down for good?

First book club

Arctic Fury bookcover
Cover from my first book I had to read for book club.

Yesterday I attended the first book club of my life. We had one month to read “The Arctic Fury” by Greer MacAllister.

Before I rant about the book, I’ll tell you about the book club. One of our neighbors hosted it in her courtyard. Eight women showed up, three I knew. We are mostly about the same age, all married, and transplants to Arizona — except for one beautiful woman from Moscow who was at least 10 to 15 years younger. One woman grew up in Guyana of Jim Jones fame. She moved to Arizona after living for years in New Jersey. Others were from Oregon, Seattle, Pittsburgh and Boston.

One woman, who took on the role of group leader, asked us for our opinion of the book. Then she asked us more detailed questions like if we felt the protagonist was a failure, what we thought of her leadership, etc. It was an interesting conversation and nice to get out and meet people.

Now about the book itself.

I didn’t like it in the beginning. It was slow and there were 13 women. I found it hard to keep track of characters. Also, they weren’t that well developed. The book jumped between the Arctic rescue and the protagonist’s murder trial in 1850s in Boston for the death of one of the women. Going back and forth wouldn’t have been a problem except it went from the trial to a narrative by a different woman each chapter. It was confusing and I couldn’t remember who was who.

The last third of the book, I was finally into it. It was a quicker pace. I don’t think I would have read the entire book without bookclub.

This was supposed to be historical fiction from the 1850s — based on a true story. It was startling to read about transgenders, lesbians, race and all the buzz words from today. The author even threw in something about chlamydia. That stopped me and I googled it and read it was first discovered in the 1960s. Not quite the right time frame for the 1850s. It was meant to be an empowering woman’s story, but I found all the issues the author mixed in didn’t add to the story, but detracted from it.

What books have you read for book club? Do you have any suggestions for me when it’s my turn to select the book?

My First Book Club

The Arctic Fury

Our neighborhood is opening up and getting back to normal. I was invited to join the book club by a neighbor.

Most of the women have been members for the length or our neighborhoods existence, which is 15 years. A couple of us are new and moved in during the shutdown.

The book I’m supposed to read is called “The Arctic Fury” by Greer MacAllister.

The copy on the back of the book says:

“Eccentric Lady Jane Franklin makes an outlandish offer to adventurer Virginia Reeve: take a dozen women, trek into the Arctic, and find her husband, Lord Franklin, and his lost expedition. Four parties have failed to find him, and Lady Franklin wants a radical new approach: put the women in charge.”

The book is based on a true story of Lady Jane Franklin’s tireless attempts to find her husband’s lost expedition.

Now here’s the problem. I have never been to book club before. I don’t know what to expect. I’m not getting into the book. I’m going to push through, but it’s not my cup of tea.

At least I know how to spell the word “Arctic.” Maybe it’s the title I don’t like, because when my son was in second grade he had to name the continents on a map. He didn’t get 100%. I talked to the teacher and wanted to know why she marked him wrong for “Artic.” Yes, I had him practice spelling the word wrong — and I argued with the teacher.

What do you do at book club exactly anyway?

Are you the member of a book club? How is it set up? Who selects the books? What do you do when you don’t like them?

Two books to check out

 Cover for Chanel Cleeton's book The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba
The second book I’ve read by Chanel Cleeton.

I finished reading two books this week. “The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba” by Chanel Cleetom and “The Matchmaker” by Elin Hilderbrand.

The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba

I read a book by Cleeton earlier this summer called “Next Year in Havana” and absolutely loved it. Although “The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba” is good, it comes in second place to the prior book I read. This story takes place in Cuba and the United States during the Spanish American War amidst the battle of two newspaper empires, Pullitzer and Hearst.

The novel tells the story of three women, a reporter Grace Harrington in New York City based on Nellie Bly, the real-life Cuban revolutionary Evangelina Cisneros, who becomes famous as the “most beautiful girl in Cuba,” and Marina who left the comfort and safety of her wealthy Cuban family to marry her love, a poor Cuban farmer and fighter.

I recommend this book, but it took me about a third of the way in to get engrossed. In both of Cleeton’s books I’ve read, she has the same main family of Perez’s. I enjoy following their stories from different generations. I’m starting a third novel by her today, “The Last Train to Key West.”

Bookcover for The Matchmaker
Elin Hilderbrand’s The Matchmaker

The Matchmaker

I have read at least a dozen Elin Hilderbrand books and enjoy them. I get lost in the scenery of Nantucket, the Caribbean, or the other backdrops which become as much of a character as the people in her novels.

I get caught up right away and find she creates easy, fun reads. Although there’s usually common threads of death and cheating spouses, her stories fascinate me.

This is the story of a high school couple who are madly in love their entire lives, although not together after college graduation when Clendenin takes a job in as a reporter on the other side of the world. The main character, Dabney stays on Nantucket and becomes the director of the Chamber of Commerce and literally runs the island as a single mother. Eventually, she gets married to a famous economist Box, who becomes a great father and husband.

I won’t give away more of the story, but I got kind of annoyed. This one requires a lot of kleenex and I just wasn’t in the mood.

Have your read books by these authors? What are your opinions of them? What are some good books you’ve read lately and can recommend?

How many books on this list have you read?

I have never copied and posted something from Facebook on my blog before. But this popped up on a childhood friend’s page and I played. I enjoyed it and as readers and writers, I believe you might find it interesting, too.

In fact, I rarely even look at Facebook anymore. I don’t know why I did the other day, but I did. So here you go.

Anne of Green Gables early book cover
One of my favorite series.

The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books here. Want to play?

1 Pride and Prejudice- Jane Austen

2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien

3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling

5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

6 The Bible –

7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell

9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman

10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens

11 Little Women – Louisa May Alcott

12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy

13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller

14 Complete Works of Shakespeare

15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier

16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien

17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulkes

18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger

19 The Time Traveler’s Wife-Audrey Niffenegger

20 Middlemarch – George Eliot

21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell

22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald

23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens

24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy

25 The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams

26  Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury

27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck

29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll

30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame

31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy

32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens

33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis

34 Emma – Jane Austen

35 Persuasion – Jane Austen

36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis

37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini

38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres

39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden

40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne

41 Animal Farm – George Orwell

42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown

43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

44 A Prayer for Owen Meany – John Irving

45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins

46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery

47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy

48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding

50 Atonement – Ian McEwan

51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel

52 Dune – Frank Herbert

53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons

54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen

55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth

56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon

57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens

58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime – Mark Haddon

60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck

62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov

63 The Secret History – Donna Tart

64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold

65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas

66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac

67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy

68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding

69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie

70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville

71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens

72 Dracula – Bram Stoker

73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett

74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson

75 Ulysses – James Joyce

76 The Inferno – Dante (Have it downloaded)

77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome

78 Germinal – Emile Zola

79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray

80 Possession – AS Byatt

81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell-

83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker

84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro

85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert

86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry

87 Charlotte’s Web – EB White

88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom

89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton

91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad

92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Eupery

93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks

94 Watership Down – Richard Adams

95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole

96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute

97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas

98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare

99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl

100 Gaudy Night – Dorothy Sayersshared from Book Snoop Auctions

This list gave me ideas of what I’ve wanted to read but haven’t — yet. I scored 44. What is your score?

UPDATE: My son informed me the list is “BBC’s Top 100 Books You Need to Read Before You Die.” If you click on the link HERE you can check off the books and see where you stand compared to other readers.