This Week’s Reading

2 AM at The Cat’s Pajamas — Marie-Helene Bertino
The Applebeck Orchard — Susan Wittig Albert
Waifs and Strays — Charles De Lint
Sweet Liar — Jude Devereaux

This Week’s Reading

The Heiresses — Sara Shepard
The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street — Susan Jane Gilman
three story house — Courtney Miller Santo

This Week’s Reading

Eight Girls Taking Pictures — Whitney Otto
A Royal Pain — Megan Mulry
Foal Play — Kathryn O’Sullivan
A Different Sun — Elaine Neil Orr
The Lost Children of Wilder: The Epic Struggle to Change Foster Care (non-fiction) — Nina Bernstein

This Week’s Reading

Ashenden — Elizabeth Wilhide

The Lemon Orchard — Lonnie Rice

Trains and Lover — Alexander McCall Smith (from last week)

This Week’s Reading

Trail of Fire by Diana Gabaldon
Trains and Lovers by Alexander McCall Smith
Widow’s Tears by Susan Wittig Albert
Dying on the Vine by Aaron Elkins

Tuesday Treasure: Christmas Ornament Preview

Every year, I make new Christmas ornaments to list in my Etsy store. I’m still listing my Halloween and autumn items, so the Christmas items are coming later this week or early next week, but I thought I’d share a few early pics of them:

Tropical Penguin Christmas Ornament Beaded Tassel Red Presents Beaded Tassel Christmas Ornament Vintage Glass Beaded Tassel Christmas Ornament

Book Review: The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society

Darien Church Doors

Photo credit: Larry Myhre

I just finished this book, The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society, by Darien Gee. I really, really enjoyed it. It’s my new favorite book, at least until I read another good one. :)

I’m really bad at remembering where I read something, so you’ll just have to bear with me when I tell you I read something recently, but I can’t remember where. (If you know the source, leave it in the comments. Thanks.) It was all about how people should read quality books, books that make you think, and reading anything else was pure escapism, and therefore not to be read. I’ve been told that before, that I’m reading for escapism, and I really ought to be reading better books. Oddly, anyone who tells me that always has very precise ideas about what makes a good book, and what doesn’t. Really, I think the claim of escapism is just a way for people to say, “You ought to be reading the books I agree with and think are good, and no others.”

One of the most memorable people to tell me this was my 9th grade English teacher. Completely focused on the young adult fiction I was reading several of every day, and the science fiction books by Arthur C. Clarke I was reading a few every week or so, she told me I was reading purely for escapism and needed to read better books, real literature. The thing is, I was also reading The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (a page or two at a time, it took me almost the whole school year to get through), and her (the teacher’s) idea of literature was Margaret Atwood‘s The Handmaid’s Tale. I don’t know if you think Margaret Atwood writes literature or not, but Dostoyevsky is most definitely literature.

Anyway, this most recent thing I read about escapism made me think, because all the books the author cited as examples were written at least 100 years ago. And you know, some older books are literature, but just because it’s newer doesn’t mean it’s not literature. And this author was fixated on romance novels not being literature, and while that may be true for some romance novels, it isn’t true for all. And if romance makes it not literature, what are we doing teaching Shakespeare as literature? Half his oeuvre is romance.

The debate about literature versus non-literature is as old as writing fiction. Lately, though,  a lot of the things I have been reading about escapism and non-literature being read seem to be aimed at women and novels by, for, and about women. I’m coming to think that this is a subtle form of sexism — if it’s by and about women, it must not be a good book — it must not be worthy of someone’s time. I’ve written about this before, but it’s really starting to annoy me.

I never used to consider myself a feminist, for a lot of complicated reasons I’m not going to go into right now. But the older I get (I’m much too young to be using that phrase, but I can’t think of a better one) the more I think I probably am one. It seems to me that women are not treated the same as men in a lot of (at this time and in the US) really subtle ways that are really hard to put your finger on. And I have a hard time seeing how The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society, with its discussions of dementia, family and what makes a family, adoption, love, and more, is any less literature than an overwrought play about two teenagers who thought the world revolved around them.

You should read The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society. It’s good. And I promise not to care if you read it just to read a good book, or if you analyze it deeply.

Five out of five stars.

This Week’s Reading

I think it possible we actually survived winter. It was above freezing two days in a row now. Makes the neighborhood (unplowed) roads hard to drive on, though. Onto my reading for this week.

The Hounds and the Fury — Rita Mae Brown
The Roots of the Olive Tree — Courtney Santo
Our Lady of Alice Bhatti — Mohammed Hanif
The Painted Boy — Charles de Lint
Waifs and Strays — Charles de Lint
The Gilly Salt Sisters — Tiffany Baker

This Week’s Reading

The Tale of Hawthorn House — Susan Wittig Albert
The Tale of Briar Bank — Susan Wittig Albert
The Baby Planner — Josie Brown
By Starlight — Dorothy Garlock
Little Girl Gone — Drusilla Campbell
The Hunt Ball — Rita Mae Brown
The Unfinished Garden — Barbara Claypole White

This Week’s Reading plus bonus Mini Book Review

The Tale of Hill Top Farm — Susan Wittig Albert
Where We Belong — Emily Giffin
The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D. — Nichole Berner
A Teeny Bit of Trouble — Michael West
The Tale of Cuckoo Brow Wood — Susan Wittig Albert

I do enjoy Susan Wittig Albert’s work very much. She always has so much more in her books than just the mystery — herbal knowledge & criminal law procedures (China Bayles books), attention to historical detail (Dahlia books, Beatrix Potter books), that it makes the books a joy to read.

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