No surprise, the autumnal schedule upshift kept me from sharing what I read, listened to, sang and did during September. So I’m doubling up with both September and October in this entry, which I gratefully link up as always with Leigh Kramer!
I waited a really long time to get this off the waitlist at the library. When I finally got it I cringed a little when I saw how big it was – I’ve been overwhelmed by the reading pile lately. It was worth the wait and the time it took to read (which wasn’t that much since it was a gripping page-turner). Angie Thomas’s debut novel features a girl living in a rough neighborhood who sees dear childhood friend die at the hands of a police officer. The characters have heart and show the humanity the flourishes in areas that too many people dismiss as “the ghetto”. The protagonist behaves the way any young person would daydream about acting when faced with the need to speak truth to power. The characters are heroic but real. I can’t wait for the movie.
Our local library branch keeps a special display of cookbooks, so I scooped this one in September and fell in love immediately. I’m vegetarian, not vegan, but I’m definitely buying a copy of this book and possibly giving a few as gifts. Not only does it give innovative, authentic recipes for meat-free Italian meals, most recipes only have 6-8 ingredients, which makes cooking so much easier. Meals are arranged by season so you can always find a use for whatever is ripe. A zillion stars!
Andi Cumbo-Floyd is a delight. I’ve been connected with her online for a few years, having the good fortune to experience one of her online writing courses as well as staying in touch over Facebook, Twitter, and email. This book is an anthology of 52 letters that she wrote to her “tribe” of writers, full of inspiration, advice, personal reflection, and beautiful writing. This would be a great gift for a writer, or a resource to keep on the shelf for those moments when you need a little pick-me-up. Brava Andi!
Pamela Paul has kept a book journal for a long time, which wouldn’t be remarkable if she hadn’t turned it into an engaging memoir and ended up an editor of the NYT Book Review. Her lovely book is hard to describe – its more than a memoir-about-books. It encouraged me to think back on what I read, and when. Sometimes our reading choices say a lot about us.
A sweeping, poetic novel about a displaced Palestinian family, Salt Houses drew from me nostalgia, admiration, and tears. Hala Alyan shifts perspective and era frequently, but the writing and narrative are clear as day.
I was a little late to the party on this one. You have probably read it. I couldn’t put it down, and it upset me so much that I returned it to the library as soon as the library opened the following morning.
Jerry Guern, who wrote this historical-fiction-fantasy, contacted me about reading his book set between the Fourth and Fifth Crusades. I told him that fantasy is not my cup of tea, and indeed it is not, but I deeply admire the accomplishment of self-publishing an intricate and well-researched first novel. If you like vampire-fiction, pick up Jerry’s book on kindle or in paperback.
My husband and I were delighted that the Boston Symphony Orchestra played a “neighborhood concert” in our local park. Thanks to Andris Nelsons and the BSO for giving us a beautiful Sunday afternoon.
We also saw the national tour of Fun Home at the Boston Opera House, which we very much enjoyed, and heard Gil Shaham play Tchaikovsky’s violin concerto with the BSO at Symphony Hall. That same program featured Moler by Arlene Sierra, which had the dubious distinction of being the only piece by a woman this season. As distressed as I am by that, my heart leaped when Sierra came out on stage for a curtain call after her piece. Please keep writing music like this!
Though the show was technically in November I spent much of October preparing for Hansel and Gretel with Longwood Opera. I have sung on their summer concert series for many years, but this was my mainstage debut, and I loved every moment of working with them. I hope to get a link to the performance up soon!
Other things that make me happy
I drink a lot of tea during the school year, so I purchased a new mug that was sure to make me smile, featuring the phrase “I feel ducky today.” At the same time, a coworker bought me a rubber ducky tea diffuser, and I’m in love. I’ve also been splurging on yummy tea bags from David’s Tea, and making the most of my frequent steeper card.
In October I ran the Hartford Half Marathon for the tenth (I think?) time. I continue to admire the work that the Hartford Marathon Foundation does to bring people to the city where I was born, and to put on a great event that happens to be the most eco-friendly race in the United States. As for my own performance, it wasn’t my best, but I put one foot in front of the other and finished strong.
I have been putting my garden to bed following the instructions from my favorite gardening book. With the warm weather this fall we got eggplants, greens and tomatoes quite late in the season. More importantly, my father got late tomatoes, which he passed on to me when I was home for the half-marathon. Yum.
I hope you have had a delightful fall. What were you into this month?
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which sends some change into my piggy bank at no cost to you. Copies of Love Letters to Writers and No Moon to Pray To were provided to me for review by the authors.