The Week in Pages: March 20, 2023

Good Monday morning to you all – how were your weekends? Any crazy St. Patrick’s Day antics?

Last week was a slow reading week around these parts – slower than I’d hoped for, to be honest. I’m still making my way through Great Expectations in print and Horizon on audio – no changes to report, except that I’m about halfway through both. Audiobook time has been limited by (1) only commuting one day last week, which is the usual for now; and (2) being slammed with work projects and not getting out for as many neighborhood walks as I usually do. I’ve been listening a bit here and there while doing things like washing dishes and making beds, but I’m also not so enthralled by the book that I am turning it on at every opportunity. It’s good, but I think I’m just burnt out on polar travel literature right now – but being halfway through, I feel like I need to press on and see it all the way to the end.

As for print reading, that’s been hampered by time constraints, too. Between a couple of evenings of working late, and other evenings of needing to get things done around the house – or just being too zoned-out to focus on a book – I’ve been picking up Pip’s adventures at 9:30pm, which is too late for me to start reading and get through a meaningful amount of pages in an evening. I did curl up with Great Expectations for a few hours on Saturday morning, but barely touched in on Sunday. The bottom line being: I’m about halfway through, or a little more. Hoping to finish it up this week, which really shouldn’t be a chore because I am really enjoying it. It’s all about time and energy in the evenings, and I’m hoping to have more of both this week. I am thinking, though, of reading something slim and quick before going on to the next Classics Club doorstopper. A palate cleanser might be just the thing.

No pictures from the weekend! The only time I took my camera out was to snap pictures of Peanut and her fellow Girl Scouts enjoying Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: The Ballet this weekend, and as you can I’m sure appreciate, I won’t be sharing those since they all include kids that aren’t mine (and Peanut’s face, too – about a year ago, I stopped posting pictures of my own kids’ faces on here, as may or may not be obvious). Anyway, the girls had a fabulous time at the ballet, and that was kind of the only notable thing I did over the weekend. The rest of it was the usual – a run on Saturday, a long walk with Nugget on Sunday, plenty of book time on Saturday as detailed above, etc. A weekend of the usual and not-at-all-notable actually felt kind of good after traveling to the end of the world and back in the last month.


The Week in Pages: March 13, 2023

Happy Monday! It’s been – what, a month? – well, some time since I last recapped my week’s reading for you. Traveling will do that – and as expected, I didn’t read much while on my adventure to Antarctica, so you haven’t missed anything really. It took me a whole week of being home and in a routine again to get back into the swing of reading, but I think the page-turning mojo is back.

I started the week still mentally in Antarctica, this time with Sir Ernest Shackleton and friends. I’d read so much about the disastrous Scott Expedition before my trip that I really wanted to get in at least one book about Shackleton’s last journey to Antarctica, too. But after three weeks of traveling and a month of reading polar exploration literature almost exclusively, I was pretty checked out of this one and it was a bit of a slog for me to get through it. I was relieved to close the book – for now, there are more Antarctica books I want to read but I need a break – on polar explorers for awhile and start some spring reading. Last Mother’s Day, Steve gave me Monty Don’s beautiful American Gardens, and while I had flipped through it some, I hadn’t made time to sit down and actually read it cover to cover and look at all of the pictures. So that was a lovely way to welcome in spring (much nicer than turning the clocks forward). And at the same time, I picked up Great Expectations, which has been on my to-read list for years. It’s also on my Classics Club Challenge list, which has a deadline of July 23, 2023. I’m almost done with the challenge – only eight books left, but some of them are loooooooong, so – as one of my favorite co-workers likes to say – “I’ve gotta giddyup.” I’m about 80 pages in as of press time, and really enjoying it. Pip has just met Estella and I’m looking forward to watching their relationship evolve.

After Great Expectations, I think I’ll probably keep plugging away at my remaining Classics Club books. I have copies of both The Three Musketeers and The Silmarillion, so possibly one of them? Time will tell.

Guess who turned eight on Saturday and is now eligible for go-kart racing?

What were your reading highlights last week?

The Week in Pages: February 6, 2023

Good Monday morning to you, friends! How were your weekends, in reading and not-reading? As you can see, it was a bit of a slow reading weekend… and week… around here. Mid-week I finished up Scott’s Last Expedition – actually staying up late to finish it. It was an interesting read for sure, although more about weather and equipment than I wanted to read for 472 pages (makes sense though, as those were Captain Scott’s primary considerations throughout his expedition – and tragically, both failed him). After finishing with Scott and friends, I wanted to take another book off my pre-Antarctica pile, but something rather slimmer. So I picked up Patrick Leigh Fermor’s Three Letters From the Andes, which clocks in at a very manageable 103 (or thereabouts) pages of text. This is actually about a trip to Peru, so not the part of the Andes I’ll be seeing during the Patagonia leg of my trip – but still fun to read in advance of my first visit to South America. But I have been so busy and distracted that I just haven’t had time to sit down with it and I’m still just midway through after barely reading at all over the weekend. I’ll finish it tonight though, and then be on to whatever comes next – to be determined.

Another Sunday, another ski day! We have finally had some decently cold weather, so our home mountain was able to make snow and the conditions were good for the first time all winter. Nugget and I made the most of it, skiing 23 runs mostly on the back side of the mountain. Approximately 50% of them were on a trail that Nugget and his friends call “mogul jungle” and my legs are feeling it today.

What are you reading this week?

The Week in Pages: January 30, 2023

Short reading recap for you this week, because I only finished one book – Smallbone Deceased, on audio. My assessment from last week stands: enjoyable, but not as good as Death in Captivity, another Michael Gilbert book published by British Library Crime Classics, which was one of the best books I read in 2022. I can report that I did not guess whodunit, but I did correctly suss out the group from whom the guilty party came. The mystery takes place in a law firm, and there is a clear division between the attorneys and the staff. In this case, I was pretty sure early on that the murderer hailed from one of these two groups – I won’t say which, for those who may want to read the book – and I was right. I suspected two people in particular and was leaning towards the one who seemed less likely to have committed the crime, just because this person seemed so unlikely. And there I was off base – the person I suspected a little bit more was not the killer, and my second choice was. How’s that for cryptic?

In print, I spent the entire week over Scott’s Last Expedition and I’m still not done. It’s a lot of details about weather and food arrangements at Scott’s winter base, and that makes it rather slow reading. Fascinating, but slow. Anyway, I’m about 2/3 of the way through now and another few evenings of dedicated reading should do it, so I expect I’ll finish this week. Once I do, I haven’t decided yet what’s next – possibly Brat Farrar, by Josephine Tey, or The Picnic at Hanging Rock, by Joan Lindsay, both of which I’d like to read so that I can listen to podcast episodes discussing them without getting spoiled.

Another skiing picture for you – but look who joined us this time! Steve and Peanut came to the mountain, and Nugget was beside himself with excitement at showing them both around. Steve has never been a skier, but he has tried to learn a few times and I know he would really like to enjoy mountain fun with the kids. Nugget was gleefully “teaching Daddy the basics” while I skied Peanut down the bunny slope and he said Steve did a great job – LOL. While we would of course rather Daddy still be enjoying Sundays watching his Bills in the NFL playoffs, a ski day with the whole family was a small silver lining to their season ending.

What are you reading this week?

The Week in Pages: January 23, 2023

Morning, friends. It’s still morning here, although barely. I’m having one of those running around Mondays where I’m trying to juggle errands and appointments with work. But I have a minute to pop in here and tell you what I’ve been reading, and this will be a short post, because as you can see – it’s been a light reading week. I spent most of the week over Winter in the Air, a new collection of short stories by Sylvia Townsend Warner. They’re not all wintry-themed, and even the titular story isn’t as seasonal as the cover would imply. But I really enjoyed this volume; as I mentioned last week, Warner is one of the few writers who can hold my attention over an entire volume of short stories.

Anyway – it took me all week and I finally wrapped it up on Friday evening, and then turned to Scott’s Last Expedition, a collection of Robert Falcon Scott’s journals from his ill-fated final Antarctic voyage. I have a gorgeous Folio Society edition, but it weighs as much as a preschooler – so there have been some shiftings of reading position. (I tried out the dining room table and then moved back to the couch with the book propped up on a big pillow – that seems to be working.) What with one thing and another over the weekend – skiing on Saturday and rushing around trying to do house chores on the weekend – I didn’t have much time to devote to reading, so I’ve only just gotten Captain Scott and his crew out of the pack ice and on to their first sight of Antarctic land. (They have, however, done plenty of skiing. Antarctic skiing! Color me jealous.)

Finally, I forgot to mention last week, but – I’m also midway through Smallbone Deceased on audio. It’s good, and quite funny in parts, but I definitely don’t like it as much as I liked the last Michael Gilbert book I read (Death in Captivity, which was one of the best books I read in 2022). I’m not sure what my next audiobook will be; I do have a credit to spend, so I might use it on Peril in Paris, the latest in the Her Royal Spyness series, but that’s rather up in the air right now. I still have almost three-and-a-half hours to go in Smallbone, after all.

My friend Dorothy asked me if we are up at our local ski mountain every weekend because it seems like we’re always there. The answer is yes – we have been going up every weekend the mountain has been open, except when out of town. As you can see, Nugget is really benefiting from all the practice! We were there again on Saturday and skied blue square (intermediate) trails the entire day, and he did a great job at controlling his speed and avoiding other skiers. Of course now he’s pestering me to let him ski a black diamond (advanced) run. I’m holding firm because he is NOT ready. Send chocolate, friends.

What are you reading this week?

The Week in Pages: January 9, 2023

Well – it’s Monday again, and the first full workweek after that bumpy re-entry. I feel like I’m still working my way up to full strength, and I was sort of feeling like reading was going slowly – like everything else – but based on the above, maybe not? I finished The Office BFFs on Monday after returning home from visiting my parents in upstate New York, and loved it. After a quick interlude to catch up on A Nature Poem for Every Winter Evening (which is lovely) I was back to reading The Windsor Diaries 1940-45, which was one of my Christmas presents from Steve. I wrapped it up over the weekend and mostly really loved it. The immediacy of reading Alathea Fitzalan Howard’s diary transported me straight to Windsor during World War II and it was fascinating to read a true insider’s account of how Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret spent the war years. But I do need to give a trigger warning (which I will also note when I do my monthly reading wrap-up) – there are a few mentions of self-harm in the book, so if that is not something you are able to read about, give this one a miss.

After wrapping up The Windsor Diaries on Saturday evening, I moved on to Yours Cheerfully, the sequel to Dear Mrs. Bird, which I have out from the library right now. (I’m making a priority to hit my library books now so that I can get in all the polar exploration books I want to read before we leave for ANTARCTICA.) As of press time, I’m about a third of the way through and enjoying it just as much as the first book in the series – maybe more, now that I know and love the characters.

Finally! (It really has been a busy reading week…) My big plan of catching up on podcasts and then alternating between listening through an audiobook and then the “recent episodes” section of my podcatcher is paying dividends. I’m all caught up on podcasts – except for a few I am saving for specific reasons – and almost done with my second audiobook of 2023. (Maybe 2023 will be the year I finally make a substantial portion of my reading out of audiobooks? Time will tell.) I am really enjoying Dinner with Edward and will finish it up this week. While I’m not crazy about the narration – look at me, already getting opinionated about narrators – the writing is great (and the descriptions of the incredible meals Edward cooks are making me hungry…)

Back on the mountain! Nugget and I have already skied three times this season – woohoo! As you can see, he insists on poles. I’m not thrilled about this but I’m picking my battles and they don’t seem to be getting in his way.

What are you reading this week?

The Week in Pages: December 18, 2022

Happy Monday! Christmas reading has started full swing around here – and I will show you my Advent additions to my holiday library on Wednesday (I posted them by accident last week and then pulled the post, but it will stay up this time). I spent most of the workweek over non-Christmas books – The Swallow: A Biography, by Stephen Moss (third of four books in his bird biography series, so I do hope he’s planning to keep it up because I’m running out!) and then Dear Mrs. Bird, by A.J. Pearce, which started in December but was definitely not a holiday book.

Once I finished with Dear Mrs. Bird, I switched over fully into Christmas reading and started with Calm Christmas and a Happy New Year, which I had out from the library. Nothing new or especially earth-shattering in there, but it was nice to spend a day’s reading getting some gentle validation for scaling back the winter holidays and celebrating in a way that feels meaningful to me – and not necessarily the way the media tells me I should celebrate. I think I’m generally pretty good at that, but a reminder is always nice. And I really liked the concept of a “Christmas constellation,” which gave me some stuff to think about for this holiday season and beyond.

With finishing up both Dear Mrs. Bird and Calm Christmas, I am out of unread library books and back to reading from my own shelves, and I knew right away that I wanted some festive mystery stories to kick off holiday reading – so I picked up Midwinter Murder, a collection of mysteries featuring all of Agatha Christie’s different detectives. Out of the twelve stories in here, five are Poirot stories and two are Marple stories, so this should be a very good volume indeed – I am about 40% of the way through it as of press time and really enjoying every entry. Nothing like a little crime for Christmas, right?

Finally – Christmas listening continues apace, too. I’ve actually slowed down a bit on the audiobook front, thanks to Steve setting up my Spotify account (yes, I am the last person on the planet to Spotify) which opened up a whole world of music options. I know, I know. But I’m gradually making my way through the stories and recipes in Jeanette Winterson’s Christmas Days and finding it a wonderful listen. I have about five hours to go in the audiobook, so a few long walks this week should finish it off. Now to see if that actually happens, since the kids have started their two-plus week Christmas vacation, oof.

I was hoping to have a skiing picture to share with you, but opening day at our local slope has been postponed due to not enough snow – sob. We’re waiting more or less patiently (okay, less patiently) for the mountain to open up, but in the meantime we did get in our (well, my) favorite Christmas tradition over the weekend: a walk around Old Town Alexandria to look at the decorations, especially the beautiful wreaths on just about every door, followed by cocoa from our favorite indie coffee shop. I’m pretty sure everyone else is just humoring me, but I do just love this tradition, which we’ve kept going for many years now.

What are your favorite traditions for the lead-up to Christmas? And what are you reading this week?

The Week in Pages: December 12, 2022

I cannot believe that Christmas is only two weeks away – seriously, how? It sneaks up on me every year and this year is no exception, apparently. I need to get my act together – lots of presents still to buy, magic to make, all that good stuff. Every year I say I have no idea how it will all get done, and every year it somehow does get done. Elves?

Anyway, it was hard to find reading time last week because I was on a business trip – the last one of 2022. But I squeezed it in where I could and look! Not too shabby. On Monday I finished up The Franchise Affair – read in two days because it was a fast read and I was motivated. I had an episode of Shedunnit to listen to on the plane (en route to the aforementioned business trip) that was going to spoil the ending, and I wanted to finish the book before traveling for that reason. I did, and then listened to the podcast episode, and it was all very satisfying. After that, I turned back to God Rest Ye, Royal Gentlemen, which I had going on Audible. It was a fun and engaging listen, and perfect for this time of year. After finishing that, I started Christmas Days, also via Audible. I’m not far into that one yet, but it’s good.

As for print, since I no longer carry paperbacks – let alone hardcovers – when I travel, I was combing the kindle library for something fun, and hit upon Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her, an interesting nonfiction read about the history of the Stratemeyer Syndicate, Nancy Drew, and “juvenile” publishing. I blazed through it on my few spare moments over the week, finishing it up on the weekend, and really enjoyed it. Finally, on Sunday evening, I pulled The Swallow: A Biography off my shelf; I was looking for something fast to read, because I have two books to pick up at the library this afternoon and don’t want them idling on my entryway table for too long.

As for what’s next – those two library books are on deck. One is definitely a Christmas book, and one might be? (I’m not sure. I’ll read the doubtful one first.) It’s getting to that time of year and I think I’ve put off the Christmas reading long enough – I’m already deep into it on Audible, as you can see, and I have a stack of print books on holiday themes to get me through the next two weeks. The idea of decorating, shopping, wrapping, sending cards, etc., is exhausting – but festive reading, I can manage.

The Christmas tree is in a new spot this year! With the Peloton occupying its usual space in the living room, we are trying out this corner of the family room for the tree. Don’t mind the weird ornament clusters; at some point I’ll find the time and energy to QC the kids’ work.

Have you decorated for the winter holidays yet?

The Week in Pages: December 5, 2022

Oh my gosh, you guys – how is it December already?! I feel like the year just got underway and somehow it’s almost over. I am shook. Time to start Christmas shopping – well, I have already started, but in a haphazard way, so time to get organized, I guess. I’m in and out of Christmas spirit, as is usually the case at the beginning of December. When I’m hitting a Peloton holiday ride, I’m basically Mrs. Claus, but the rest of the time, it all just feels like too much work. Par for the course.

Anyway, I’m rationing holiday reading right now because I still haven’t forgotten the year – it might have been 2020? – when I only read Christmas books all of December and was burnt out in a big way by the time the actual holiday rolled around. This was a big reading week, as you can see. I started the week by finishing The Historian on Monday night. That felt very much like a November book to me, so I wanted to get it done in November, and I did. In print I then moved on to The Professor, and spent most of the week over it. I’ll have more to say in a full review for the Classics Club, but it’s not Charlotte Bronte’s best work, by any stretch. Actually, I think most would agree it’s her worst. Anyway, I finished it – with one short hiatus to finish off The Almanac 2022 (in the dentist’s chair, waiting for Novocaine to kick in so I could get a flossing injury fixed – don’t ask). I always read The Almanac month by month through the year, so all I had left was the December chapter. Finally, after finishing up The Professor at last on Sunday morning, I picked up The Franchise Affair and read half of it on Sunday evening. I’m determined to finish the rest today. I have a flight to Seattle tomorrow for the last business travel of 2022 and I want to list to an episode of Shedunnit on the plane, all about the real-life kidnapping case that inspired the novel. So naturally I’ve got to get the book done before I head to the airport. There’s a method to my madness, really.

That’s a lot of reading – but there’s more! (Always said in my Marissa Tomei voice – from the courtroom scene in “My Cousin Vinny” – IYKYK.) On audio, I blazed through The Christmas Hirelings, read by Richard Armitage. (It was a pretty predictable, rather silly Victorian novel, but short, and I’ll listen to Richard Armitage read the phone book.) Having finished that, I downloaded God Rest Ye, Royal Gentlemen – not the most recent Lady Georgianna mystery, but I hadn’t read it yet and felt like a festive listen. So apparently audiobooks are the one area where I’m allowing holiday reads so far. (Once I get back from Seattle I’ll dive into festive reading in earnest.) I’m five chapters in and having a glorious time, as I always do when Georgie is involved.

Next up on audio, I have Christmas Days, by Jeannette Winterson, which I downloaded last year and have been saving. Very much looking forward to that one. And in print – no idea. I always take my kindle with me on travel and just see what strikes me in the moment. Look at me, reading spontaneously.

Very calm weekend before the holiday storm – ordinary, that is, maybe not calm. Nugget had a bowling birthday party to attend and it took him a few throws but he got his bowling skills back after they lapsed over pandemic times. Peanut had a Girl Scout meeting and we took a short hike. And that was about it. Errands, laundry, Peloton – the usual. Holiday craziness starts now…

What are you reading this week?

The Week in Pages: November 28, 2022

Morning, friends! Happy Thanksgiving – one more time – to all who were celebrating this weekend. I hope you had a delicious feast, some time with family, plenty of fresh air, and a chance to curl up with a book. I got all of those things this weekend and it was wonderful. Of course, now I am staring down a pile of emails to start the week off – c’est la vie.

The reading was good indeed. On Monday, I finished up War in Val d’Orcia, which was an incredible read and certainly in line for one of the top ten books of my reading year. Next up, I wanted something short and quick, so I picked up A.N. Wilson’s new bite-sized book about Queen Elizabeth II, Lilibet: The Girl Who Would Be Queen. I loved The King and the Christmas Tree, which Wilson published last year, and this new edition was just as delightful. It took me longer to read than it ordinarily would because in the intervening time I had a day of trial (that went until after 8:00pm my time) and my Thanksgiving houseguests arrived. But Lilibet provided a nice distraction. The rest of the week, when not cooking or entertaining, I churned through A Poem for Every Autumn Day – I was way behind, having fallen off the daily poetry reading wagon back in September. So instead of catching up and finishing out November with daily poetry, I figured – I’m already reading this in a couple of big bites; might as well just finish it. So I did. Finally, I turned back to The Historian on my kindle. I’d started it on the plane to Seattle earlier in the month and was planning to save it for my next flight (I have one more business trip coming up in 2022) but it feels like such a November read and I really wanted to finish it this month. I still have a few hours of reading left – it’s getting very spooky – and haven’t really given any thought at all to what I’ll read next. We’ll all be surprised.

Thanksgiving tradition – turkey trotting! I went for the Turkey Day 5K this year because it was near my house and had a one mile run for Nugget. He was actually fighting a cold, but still banged out a sub-eight minute mile. Unbelievable! I was much slower in the 5K.

Hope you all had a wonderful holiday weekend and aren’t too behind to start the week! What are you reading?