May: Books Plus

This is the first month I think I’ve ever read strictly from my shelves, since our library is still closed.  It was also a month full of beautiful spring weather that kept us happily in a routine of long walks and bike rides and dinners on the screened porch. It was a month bringing to head a lot of darkness, from disunity over the pandemic to the racism that runs deep in all of our lives.  Hoping you’ll find something here to bring you some joy or something you can avoid and therefore make time for another joy, though this is not meant to be a distraction.

My Reads

➕ Jessica Townsend’s Nevermoor
I’ve already re-read this one so many times and find its world-building, humorous voice, quirky characters, and exciting plot a delight each time. You’ve probably already read this, but, if you haven’t, look into it! It’s fantastic on audio, too.
Poppy Green’s A New Friend
So happy that Emily introduced us to this.  This is book one in a ridiculously cute series following Sophie Mouse who lives in the most charming world and provides sweet, not saccharine, lessons; well thought-out knowledge building, and wonderful illustrations. We’ve read it several times already.
➕  Amy Rebecca Tan’s A Kind of Paradise
A reread of a favorite. Library love, unlikely friendships, communities rallying, all the good stuff.
➕  Amy Rebecca Tan’s Summer at Meadow Wood
I have a longer review here, but Tan did it again. I’d like to live in her worlds and know her characters, please and thank you.
➕ Poppy Green’s The Great Bake Off
The title alone lets you know I loved this one.

➕ Elizabeth Taylor’s Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont

This was a once in a blue moon impulse purchase because of it being a Virago Modern Classic, a gorgeous cover, and having to do with a hotel.  Once I realized it was about the elderly, I grew wary, as I seem to be one of the very few people who do not like the topic.  The fact that this is an unflinching portrayal of aging and, well, life…this was a tough one for me.
➕  Barbara Pym’s Excellent Women
I bought this on our trip to England as my treat for the trip and had been hoarding it until now.  Humor and insight in the ordinary life of a single woman post WW2 done with the perfect touch. British to the core.
➕  Susan Adler’s Samantha Learns a Lesson
Is there a shorter term for rich white Victorian girl savior? That’s obviously a problem throughout the Samantha books, but at least Nellie gives her a little insight into the realities of child labor in this one. I remember being really into the idea of having a tower room after first reading this, which I think is the real point.
➕  Maria Semple’s Today Will Be Different
I wish this book wasn’t overshadowed by Semple’s previous book, Where’d You Go, Bernadette?.  This was a re-read for me and I yet again found the voice so captivating.  A quick, unique read that I’d recommend for anyone who enjoys quirk and sass and family, psychological complications.
➕  Amor Towles’s A Gentleman in Moscow
Another reread of another all-time favorite. I guess I’m in a place where reading about a man who can’t leave a hotel is fine.  The ability of this novel to be both sweeping and yet glory in the small is brilliant. Will you be joining  Katie‘s upcoming Zoom call with Towles?

New To Us Toddler Reads

➕ Eve Bunting’s Little Bear’s Little Boat
A sweet story about growing up when Little Bear becomes Big Bear and finds out he doesn’t fit into his beloved little boat anymore.
➕ Jennifer K. Mann’s The Camping Trip
We received this one thanks to Candlewick and it’s been an immediate hit. It tells the story of a little girl going on her first camping trip and has such endearing details.
We’ve been poring through my old copies of these. I have so many memories of them and Maeve talks about them all the time. Did you have a favorite?
The Farmblock book has provided lots of entertainment and learning over here, so when I saw this one on Book Outlet, I had to grab it.  I really like all the details for curious toddlers.

Podcasts

➕ The United States of Anxiety’s The Life and Work of Ida B. Wells
Ida B. Wells is a name I’ve heard a lot, but could probably only say one sentence about what she did. Super interesting episode about an amazing woman.
➕ Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend
Just “discovered” this one and I’ve been going through old episodes listening to favorites like Tina Fey and Will Ferrell.

Music

➕ Farmdale’s “I Just Do”
Pretty sure I automatically raise my arms in the air every time this comes on, ready to dance.
➕ Surfaces’ “Sunday Best”
Another cheery one. All about music that makes you want to smile and dance as soon it comes on.

TV and Movies

➕ Little Women
Here again with breaking news about a special little insider scoop I have.  (I finally watched.) The sets and costumes blew me away (so many spots here in Massachusetts we know and love!) and Greta Gerwig’s crafting of the story worked so well and satisfyingly fit how I felt re-reading it as an adult.  This one deserved way more Oscar nominations.
➕ My Dream Farm
I wish there was more of this wonderful Monty Don show! His authenticity and knowledge really shine here, plus I find it fascinating to see people’s farming.
➕ Nadiya’s Time to Eat
I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks this GBBO winner is so charming.  The quick concept is annoying to me, but the show is wonderful nonetheless, not to mention that her kitchen, which I immediately Googled to see if it was hers, is fantastic.

➕ Big Flower Fight

A competition show with flowers? Nothing compares to my beloved Bake-Off, but it was an enjoyable watch and the father and son duo melted my heart.
➕ High School Musical the Musical
Cheesy and cute, as expected.
➕ Waking Sleeping Beauty
Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian  
Frank and Ollie
I love behind the scenes and these Disney documentaries all give that sense of “wait, that’s what they do to make that happen?” and “wow, I never would have that about that!”.  Waking Sleeping Beauty tells the stories of Disney animation in the 90s, the Mandalorian one should be pretty clear, and Frank and Ollie follows the lives of two animator best friends who are the cutest.

What’s Not Working For Me

➕ Our broken, racist systems we white people continue to perpetuate. 

Working For Me

➕ Finding out I’m not the only book snoop.
If you show your bookcases, heck, if you show any of your house on the interwebs, you better believe I am looking.  In magazines, I like to play a little game of, “Did the stylist bring in those books or do they belong to those people?”.  The NY Times has an article about famous people’s bookshelves that is a fun look.  I would also like to clarify to those of you I know in real life: I am not an in person snoop.  That feels wrong.  I mean, I’m curious, but I won’t do it.
➕ Discovering that there’s a name for the aesthetic I love on Instagram and in books.
It’s called cottagecore and this article about it is great. It begins: “In the dense thicket of the internet lies a verdant patch of grass where dappled sunbeams peek through the leaves, resting fawns doze about, a troop of woodland mushrooms grows underfoot, and a brook faintly burbles in the distance. Freshly baked scones are just emerging from the oven in a thatch roof country cottage bordering the woods, while linen-scented laundry dries peacefully on a clothesline in the yard.”
➕ Sourdough crackers.
Quarantine trend that sourdough is, I’ve been lucky enough to have my resident baker baking us loaves for years now.  These crackers are a more recent part of his repertoire that have been really hitting the spot and I thought I’d share the recipe, although ours have parmesan rather than the spices because parmesan is the best.
➕ Watching our daughter play.
It’s my favorite thing right now.  From making her utensils and food to talk to each other to hours at her play kitchen and with her doll treehouse, it’s a joy to watch.  I have to share these wooden toy eggs we bought recently and report we’ve gotten a lot of mileage from this wooden grocery set if you’re in the play kitchen market.  I’ve gotten questions about her doll treehouse, too, which I hate to say isn’t sold anymore, but we found ours on Facebook Marketplace for a great deal, so hopefully you’ll have some luck, too!
➕ All our fantastic spring weather.
We go on bike rides, we putter around the yard, we draw with chalk in the driveway, we put our tent up in our backyard and hang out and eat pizza in there. It’s wonderful.

Please do join in however feels fitting to you!


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