Sunday books and free-for-all – June 29, 2014

lucyIt’s the Sunday free-for-all, with a literary twist.

I thought I’d try making this one book-themed, although it’s also open for anything else non-work-related that you’d like to discuss.

For those wanting to do the book angle, here are two questions to start you off:
1. What are you currently reading (or just finished)?
2. What one book do you recommend everyone else read, and why?

{ 758 comments… read them below }

  1. Ann Furthermore*

    I just recently finished The Good House by Ann Leary, and really enjoyed it. It’s the story of a woman named Hildy Good, a woman in her 60’s who has lived her whole live in a small New England town. She’s the town’s most successful realtor, and knows everything about everyone. She gets drawn into some scandal and gossip, and has convinced herself that she doesn’t have a drinking problem. Great read, and the author is Denis Leary’s wife.

    One of my favorite books of all time is The Last Convertible by Anton Myrer. I re-read it every year or 2. It’s the story of 5 friends who meet at Harvard right before WWII, and it follows them through the war and after they come home, marry, and start families. I’ve read other things by the same author, but I didn’t enjoy them near as much as this book. It’s a classic coming-of-age story, which is one of my favorite genres.

    1. Ramona*

      Love The Last Convertible! Time to give it another read. Did you see the mini series? Eons ago!

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        No, I never did. But after reading your comment I am thinking that Tom Hanks needs to get the rights for this book and turn it into an HBO miniseries!

  2. Random Reader*

    So today’s my 26th birthday. Overall, I’m pretty happy with life. I have a job that I mostly enjoy, great friends, great apartment, a family that’s pretty much free of drama, and general happiness. Only bummer part is the singleness- just went to two back to back weddings of people who are younger than me. The number of non married/single friends is slowly decreasing, and it kinda sucks :-(

    1. Stephanie*

      Happy birthday! 26 is young, but I get the empathize about feeling like the Last Single Person on Earth.

    2. Scott*

      I’m also 26. My brother is well into his 30s. We’re both still single. You’re not alone!

      1. Ali*

        Happy birthday! I turned 29 two weeks ago and am going through similar feelings with friends. I remember talking to a friend last week about a guy I know who is really nice, and she asked me if he had a girlfriend. Of course, he does. Doesn’t it always figure…?

        I find, though, that regardless of my friends’ marital status, it’s still hard to get together. My married/long-term relationship friends are tied up in kids, if they have them, and other family obligations, while my single friends and I all have busy lives with work and other hobbies. I’m lucky to talk to them a few times a week over text, with in-person meetings very rarely happening. It can be tough being single and child free!

        1. Carrie in Scotland*

          I’ll be 29 in a few months and I feel this way too. I’m always reminded about the quote in the film High Fidelity where he is talking about one of his former girlfriends and it’s something like “only certain people think they will be alone for the rest of their lives at 26. We were of this disposition.”

          I try and talk myself out of being that same disposition. It mainly works.

          Also, Happy Birthday. May you have a wonderful day!

      2. Ellie*

        I’m turning 26 next month. All of my friends are single too… I just have one acquaintance who got married last year. I really think it depends on who your friend group is. I couldn’t imagine getting married in my 20s! I enjoy every moment of my singleness! :)

    3. James M*

      Happy Birthday! I’m single, and I turn 31 in 4 weeks. We’re out there… lurking… in the coffee aisle at Trader Joes…

      1. Audiophile*

        I knew it! Lurking in bookstores and record stores (Tower Records, Borders, the mega store) is so 90s.

        *pulls up GPS coordinates of nearest Trader Joe’s*

        1. James M*

          Maybe this is too late for anyone to read it, but I’ve always wondered whether the idea that record stores and book stores are a haunt for eligible bachelor(ette)s wasn’t simply invented and propagated by those establishments.

          1. Audiophile*

            I wondered the same thing as well, I wouldn’t be surprised. I encountered some strange characters back when the Virgin Megastore was in existence, boy I miss that place. But I never met eligible bachelors at Borders, Towers or Virgin.

    4. Vancouver Reader*

      Happy birthday! As an old fart who’s married, I’d say enjoy your single life while you can.

    5. Jubilance*

      Happy birthday!

      I’m 31, and when I was your age I went through the same thing – everyone was getting married & I was single. I thought I was going to be an old maid. And then I hit 30, and everything that got married before me got divorced. I’m now engaged to the love of my life and I’m so glad I didn’t rush it because I wasn’t ready for anything serious at 25.

      The best advice I ever got was “enjoy where you are now. You’re single, you aren’t dying.” Trust me, there are perks to being single that you’ll miss when you’re coupled.

    6. Audiophile*

      Happy Birthday! As someone who will be 29, I second Stephanie’s comment that 26 is young.
      I know it’s hard, my close friend got married almost 2 years ago. I went to the wedding solo, because there was no one I really wanted to invite plus I was a bridesmaid. My other friend, my bestie, has been coupled with his husband now for quite ssome time.

      So the two people I’m closest two are hitched. I definitely feel like the last single person. I keep thinking someone needs to make a comedy or drama about this.

      1. Stephanie*

        I could see it as a drama with Don Lafontaine-like voice over: “In a world of Date Nights, she stands alone with her cheap chardonnay, cup of yogurt, and lone chicken breast. She is…The Last Single Person on Earth.”

              1. Stephanie*

                I like Jameson, Knob Creek, or the better Jacks but I’m honestly not that much of a snob about the brand provided it’s not the mystery plastic bottle well whiskey. My go-to drink at a bar is a whiskey sour.

                1. Audiophile*

                  Oh now I like you even more. I’ve never had Knob Creek, but I really enjoy Jameson. I’ve been dying to try RedBreast, but haven’t found it at a decent enough price.

        1. FiveNine*

          One book that still pops to mind occasionally some 15 years later is Blue Mystery: The Story of the Hope Diamond. I think it’s my projection on it of what the storytelling could have been rather than the book itself — I recall, actually, being more than a little disappointed in the writing, focus, and lack of depth, etc.

          But it stays with me because what a clever way to take a reader through several pieces of history and historical figures that capture the imagination. It started with the tale of the theft of the Hope Diamond from the eye of a goddess statue in India to its time in the court of Louis XIV, being worn by Marie Antoinette, how Pierre Cartier came up with the marketing strategy of the curse to add appeal so that a super-rich socialite might wish to own it.

    7. C Average*

      Happy birthday!

      I remember 26. Wow, was that ever a good year. Enjoy your youth and freedom.

      (And if the weddings are bringing you down, just check “regrets” on the invitation. You can do that, you know! It’s not a court summons. After a bad breakup in my 20s, I stopped attending ANY weddings for a while, and was surprised to discover that I didn’t lose any friends by doing so.)

      I got married at 37. I’m glad I waited. He’s the right guy.

      Go do something awesome for your birthday!

    8. the gold digger*

      I didn’t get married until I was 44. My husband was definitely worth the wait. (But I was happy being single, too, even though sometimes I felt left out.)

      My sister just got married at 46 to the only one of her boyfriends I have ever liked. She got two stepkids in the process and is thrilled.

      Happy birthday!

      1. the gold digger*

        PS Both my sister and I got Used Husbands, which is not necessarily a bad way to go, although Used Husbands who have children with other wives can be more complicated. I got a Childless Used Husband who had spent time since his divorce figuring out what had gone wrong in the first marriage and had worked on changing those parts of his reactions and tendencies that he could.

    9. A Teacher*

      31 (almost 32) and I know the feeling. I’m trying to decide if I should give online dating another shot. Haven’t had lots of success with it but no matter where you live or how big the city is/isn’t, its hard to meet people. I’m like a lot of the other commenters and stay busy, probably like you but its a bummer sometimes.

      Anyway, Happy Birthday and know you’re not alone.

    10. Tami M*

      Happy Birthday, Random Reader! Hope your day is so spectacular, that you can’t contain yourself. :) Do whatever makes you happy. :D

      Try not to put too much importance in being 26 and single. Apparently, it’s not your time yet. Just go out, live life; when you least expect it….the right ‘someone’ will come along. I used to think that way when all my friends were getting married and having kids, but looking back, it didn’t work out so well for them. Sometimes rushing it isn’t worth it when you consider what you want your future to be like.

      This year my husband and I celebrated our 29th Wedding Anniversary. Trust me….when it’s right, you’ll know it and you’ll be glad you waited. :D

  3. MMouse*

    I went to an interview on Friday and received a compliment on my cover letter. Thanks, Alison!

  4. Newsie*

    Ahhhh, books!

    After the post about etiquette some days ago, I’ve been reading Emily Post’s “Etiquette.” Absolutely fascinating. I’m up to the area where she’s describing dinner parties. Insane to believe that families actually set out red carpets outside their house less than a century ago to welcome guests for a dinner of 12!

    What must people read – Hilary Mantel’s 2/3 finished series that starts with Wolf Hall. A lot of the depictions of Tudor England are beautiful costume-y fun, and this is visceral in the blood and guts sense. You really understand what it must have been like to be in that time. And it probably smelled really rank.

      1. Newsie*

        Yes! While quite a lot of it is out of date (when going to a formal luncheon, one must ALWAYS wear their hats indoors, but NEVER wear their gloves while eating), there are a lot of basic items that I find helpful. For example, Mme. Post has a long section on how to politely introduce people in a room – she insists you avoid cutesy intro lines because they come across as too enthusiastic, and instead says you should keep it simple. It really makes sense and it makes me think about how I speak and interact daily. Loving it!

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I just read one called 24 Karat Etiquette: Golden Rules from the World’s Most Glamorous Zip Code. It’s aimed at people in the entertainment industry (in L.A.). I figured I probably wouldn’t need to know how to conduct myself at a Hollywood party or some 1%-er’s beach house weekend, but you never know.

    2. Mallory*

      I love reading the older etiquette books in which it is assumed that of course everyone has a household staff. The primary instructions are for running a household with a full staff, with modifications for those without, say, a butler or for those with “only” one full-time housekeeper.

    3. Cruciatus*

      I absolutely hated Wolf Hall! I put it down in irritation and never finished it (which is unlike me). 10 men in a room all saying “him” or “he” and I had no idea which one was being referred to. I really thought it would be more interesting. I wanted to like it. Even gave it to my mom who loves historical fiction and she thought it was also terrible and refused to finish it. I have found that this is one of those books you either absolutely love or hate. Seems to be no middle ground.

      1. Newsie*

        I can believe that. It seems like a book that would induce strong feelings for everyone.

  5. Celeste*

    I just finished “Where’d You Go, Bernadette?”. I really loved a line in the story about how a creative person who doesn’t create becomes a menace to the community. It spoke to me about the importance of being who you are.

    I think everyone should read “To Kill A Mockingbird”, because it’s a stellar piece of writing about living with your fellow man. If you like this book, you will also like “Snow Falling On Cedars”.

    1. NW Cat Lady*

      I *love* To Kill a Mockingbird, and I *loathed* Snow Falling on Cedars. I thought it was one of the worst books ever written (along with Life of Pi).

      Let the hating commence. :)

      1. Celeste*

        I thoroughly hated “Life of Pi”. Actually I bailed on the book for being tedious and went to the movie, which was 2 hours I’ll never get back.

        1. Mimmy*

          Thank you!! I don’t think I watched the whole thing when my husband watched it, but I just never understood the hype over it.

      2. angie*

        I see (and share) your hate of Snow Falling on Cedars for exactly the same reason. I’ll raise you hate of The Fault in Our Stars–I do not understand the reaction to that book. So, I’ll take the double down on hating. :)!!

        1. NW Cat Lady*

          I just finished reading The Fault in Our Stars, and I liked it. I didn’t adore it, but I thought the characters were well developed and realistic.

          But I avoided reading it for a long time, because I distrust best-seller lists.

          1. Girasol*

            I was trying to turn on my Kindle audio book last night in the dark and when several button-pushes failed to start it, I turned on the light and found out I’d bought that book wholly by accident. Maybe I should have kept it instead of hitting the “no-wait-mistake!” button. My favorite can’t-sleep audio book is Curse of Chalion, and adventure/romance in a fantasy culture with interesting gods, so it’s an exploration of religion. Normally I’d rather read a book but the narrator on that one is exceptional, and I love the story.

          2. Rachel*

            My daughter had to read both The Fault in Our Stars and Life of Pi for school this past year (high school freshman). She, too, loathed Life of Pi and loved The Fault in Our Stars; she even cried and she is NOT a crier. I haven’t read anything recently and just had a conversation with my best friend that started with “Remember when we had time to read? I miss that…” The Fault in Our Stars will be the next book I read because my daughter is desperate for me to read it. I can’t pick just one book to suggest for others to read, but the book *I* loathed was Wuthering Heights. God, how I hated that book.

            1. Pussyfooter*

              I watched PBS’ Masterpiece Theater version of that and considered the book a bullet dodged: a woman lives out her life married to the man she wants; some guy nobody likes pines over her his entire life while mistreating everyone around him; there is no attempt to get away from him or reform him; he dies and everyone just wanders away…
              I suppose there must be something compelling in the original text? Why is this story so respected?

            2. NW Cat Lady*

              I had to read Wuthering Heights freshman year of high school. Can we say “abusive relationship”? I think this would be a fantastic book to read in high school, but ONLY if you discuss the signs to look for in abusive relationships. Unfortunately, it’s marketed as a “romance.”

        2. Celeste*

          I think Fault looks completely mawkish in the movie trailers and am avoiding it in al forms. I freely admit I can’t stand YA.

          1. NW Cat Lady*

            I like YA, but mostly it’s popcorn for me. Quick, easy, entertaining, but not life-changing.

            1. C Average*

              Popcorn! Yes, that’s the perfect description of YA. (I’ve read all the dystopian stuff because my 12-year-old stepdaughter devours these books and I love talking books with her, and when the movie versions come out we go see them together. It’s been a really fun bonding mechanism. We talk a lot about the themes in these books, the parallels with the actual world we live in, why certain characters are admirable to us, and that kind of thing.)

        3. thingy*

          I wasn’t sure at first how I felt about The Fault in Our Stars. I read Paper Towns and I found it enjoyable; then I read Looking for Alaska and part of An Abundance of Katherines, and it seemed like John Green could only write the same characters over and over.

          So at first, I was happy that The Fault in Our Stars was different. But it was also really hard for me to take the dialogue seriously or to connect with the characters. (I had the same problem with the other books, but to a lesser extent.)

          1. Carrie in Scotland*

            I loved and adored WDYG Bernadette! and another one for loving “To Kill” but hating “Snow on Cedars”. Haven’t read PI, it really puts me off books when they are so ubiquitous – there are about 5 copies in the charity shop I volunteer in at the moment.

        4. Calla*

          I haven’t read TFioS (or any of his books) because I find John Green utterly obnoxious. :D

        5. salad fingers*

          I haven’t read/seen The Fault in Our Stars but I have to admit that I don’t like John Green and or his youtube videos. I haven’t found a great way to describe or even understand this feeling, but I think it has something to do with how engineered his videos are at Making An Impact and Changing Lives. That, and his super reduced Howard Zinn Lite take on history that seems aimed less at teaching history and more at proving what a hip, culturally sensitive person John Green is just kind of kill me a little on the inside. I’ve read (in reviews or bios, I forget) that he is considered to not be condescend to children, but he seems either condescending or painfully naive/privileged to me. I don’t think I would have liked him any more at 14 than I do at 24.

          1. Calla*

            I remember seeing a clip where he says pink was a boy color until Hitler came along with the pink triangle. Which is just INACCURATE. (Pink WAS used more for boys not long ago, but it wasn’t exclusively for boys, and the switch was more gradual and not just “HITLER.”) Lord save us from the people learning history from John Green.

        6. Mints*

          I liked TFiOS, but I was aware it was hokey. I do like YA, so that wasn’t unfamiliar to me. I liked it, but John Green does feel manufactured. Also, I know Gus is pretentious, but I don’t think he’s completely unlikeable, which other people seem to disagree with

        7. Artemesia*

          I liked Life of Pi to my surprise — the whole premise seemed stupid but I thought the book was well realized and of course the truths of the situation emerge — I thought it was fascinating. And I also liked Snow Falling on Cedars.

      3. Mallory*

        I’ve read To Kill a Mockingbird around six times and I’m positive that I’ll revisit it again at least a couple more times.

        I remember starting Snow Falling on Cedars once a couple of years ago, but I don’t think I finished it. I don’t have any recollection of actively disliking it, but it just never pulled me in. I didn’t slam it down in anger or dislike; I just set it down on my nightstand one night and was never drawn to pick it back up.

        I might try it again at some point. Sometimes a book that never grabbed me before will suddenly and inexplicably appeal to me if I try it again.

        I had to pick up Jane Eyre five or six times over the course of about 15 years before it ever drew me in. I wanted to want to read it, but apparently I didn’t really want to read it (like that old quote from Mark Twain, was it: “A classic is a book that everyone wants to have read but no one wants to read”).

        I picked up Jane Eyre one more time about a month ago, and I could not put it down. It’s on my all-time favorites list now.

        1. C Average*

          Jane Eyre is my favorite book ever. I read it for the first time in eighth grade. Stayed up all night, cried at the end, decided it was my destiny to write a novel myself someday. I still read it every year or so. Wonderful book.

          1. Mallory*

            The pull toward Jane Eyre that finally hooked me was that I was reading another book in which the protagonist was a teenage girl in foster care who got in trouble for stealing a copy of Jane Eyre from the public library. I had to see what the big draw was for this character to love Jane Eyre so much (she mentioned Jane Eyre any time she herself was experiencing difficulty at one of her foster placements). So the book simultaneously made me want to read Jane Eyre and be a decent foster parent some day.

            1. Mallory*

              Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline. That is the name of the book that turned me on to Jane Eyre finally. The other story line was about an elderly woman who came west from NYC on the orphan train.

              1. C Average*

                I picked up this book yesterday and started reading it this morning. I’m so enjoying it!

            2. Windchime*

              A book about Jane Eyre was also what led me to read it. I had to google to remember which book; it was called The Eyre Affair. It was very weird and very good. Anyway, after I read that book, I read Jane Eyre and loved it!

        2. NW Cat Lady*

          I love the story of Jane Eyre, but I have a difficult time reading it because of the overly melodramatic prose. Same with anything by Jane Austen. Love the stories, not fond of the writing.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      To Kill a Mockingbird is one of my favorite books ever. I’ve read it so many times I can almost quote from it verbatim.

      “Just think, Scout,” Jem said, “if you’da turned around, you’da seen him.” :)

    3. C Average*

      I loved “Where’d You Go, Bernadette?”. It was such a strange, original, interesting book. The ending felt a little contrived to me, but good endings are hard. I loved the characters and the momentum of the story.

      I know this is the minority opinion, but I thought “To Kill A Mockingbird” was just OK. I read it in school, because we had to, and I get what it was meant to accomplish. I’m not saying I want the time back that I spent reading it, or that it doesn’t contain important themes. It definitely does.

      Maybe it’s because I grew up in lily-white Idaho, but the race-related themes in the book felt very long ago and far away to me; it could as easily have been Tolkien I was reading. I found that the writing of Sherman Alexie resonated more with me when it came to the kinds of racial and economic problems I actually saw around me. (We lived close to several Native American reservations and I thought a lot about this stuff.)

      It’s probably been 25 years at least since I read the book. Maybe I should give it another read . . .

      1. Mallory*

        My whole family loved Sherman Alexie. We get a lot of our common listening on long drives to Denver and back. I go to the library and get enough books on CD to last the whole trip. We listen to a lot of Newberry Award books that way because they are books that, while written for children, are enjoyable for adults as well.

    4. Rebe*

      I just finished Where’d You Go, Bernadette? as well! I loved it – it was so quirky and moved along quickly. I found out the author was a writer on Arrested Development which kind of makes me love it even more.

    5. FiveNine*

      My first cat was named Scout. My whiskered friend today is Boo. I think Radley also would be a good cat name, as would Jem, or Harper, etc.

  6. Muriel Heslop*

    I’m reading Think Like a Freak by the guys who wrote Freakonomics and Superfreakonomics. This one is less anecdotal and more about shifting how we analyze and problem-solve. It’s great so far!

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      There books are amazing and the podcast they do is really good too.

      You might like Tim Harford’s too he is an economist from the UK and his books are written in a similar style.

  7. Canadamber*

    My 18th birthday is next week!!! Yay~ :D

    Also, I haven’t really read anything lately! :$ But I really want to read Meg Cabot’s “When Lightning Strikes” again, because I am apparently really a 13 year old who likes reading YA fiction. >__<; LOL

    1. Vancouver Reader*

      Happy ealy birthday! Gosh, all you youngsters out there.

      There’s certainly nothing wrong with reading books geared to a younger age group than what you are, I love re-reading books from my childhood.

      1. Liane*

        Happy almost b-day!

        And I agree with Vancouver Reader on both counts. There’s nothing wrong with reading YA books. I read all the Harry Potter books, plus other series my kids got me into. Plus YA books by some adult authors I like.
        And yes, all these young posters. My son is a new-minted 18 year old now!

        1. Vancouver Reader*

          My nephew’s now 18 as well, and my sister posted pics of him as a baby. I’m sure we haven’t gotten any older, the kids are just growing up a lot faster, right?

        2. Mimmy*

          Gahhhh don’t remind me about getting old! The first of my siblings’ kids will be 17 this August!!! I remember holding him trying to….ummm….get a treat from me……at 5 days old. Where does the time go??!!

    2. Felicia*

      I’m 24 and I still love YA. I don’t think I’ll ever grow out of it. I think I’d like to write YA :) Right now I’m reading a YA book called The Testing, which people who like The Hunger Games might like, though it’s a little too similar to the other YA dystopia out there

      1. Persephone Mulberry*

        I’m THIRY-four, and probably 50% of the books I read are considered YA. As long as the books are well-written, I don’t care if the protagonist is 16 or 60.

        1. Mallory*

          FORTY-four! And I read some YA when something jumps out at me as particularly intriguing or when a friend or my daughter (who will turn 18 in November) recommends some particular book.

          Loved Harry Potter and the Hunger Games. Liked Divergent well enough while I was reading it.

      2. Calla*

        Nearing 26 and love YA :) I find it preferable to other fiction in general (not always) because it’s so, idk, honest. It doesn’t take itself too seriously! And there’s a lot of GREAT stuff out there, it’s not all Twilight.

    3. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      I love YA. Christopher Pike’s Last Vampire series (recently re-vamped as Thirst) remains some of my favorite books, especially if you forget that the last say 6 books ever existed. :)

      And I think Hunger a Games should be required reading in junior high schools. It’s immensely enjoyable, it teaches a lot of valuable lessons about authority (not just rebellion… The movies sort of ignore this, I think, but Katniss is the most reluctant rebel leader ever), but it’s also one of the most *human* stories I’ve read in awhile. The books communicate in a way that I think the movies fail to that this future is one where everyone is literally traumatized constantly, and then the experiences of the main characters go beyond the pale into realms that humans just don’t recover from (and the characters never do).

      1. Windchime*

        I liked this about the Hunger Games books as well. The characters had all gone through horrible, traumatic events and the book was realistic in that regard; people don’t always recover fully and bad things happen and somehow you go on.

        I saw the first movie but not the second. I liked the movie and the character Katniss was how I imagined her, but (as usually happens for me) the movie wasn’t as detailed and engrossing as the book.

    4. C Average*

      Happy birthday!

      I am a 12-year-old trapped in a 40-year-old body and as long as good YA continues to be written, I’ll probably keep on reading it.

  8. NW Cat Lady*

    I just finished Written in My Own Heart’s Blood (Outlander #8) and The Fault in Our Stars. Loved both of them.

    I am currently reading one of the Janet Evanovich Stephanie Plum books (#19). I also have Bad Monkey (Carl Hiaasen) and Cloud Atlas borrowed from the library on my Kindle.

    I work nights and sometimes have downtime, so I read a LOT, and I read pretty much anything.

    I don’t have any books that I universally recommend to people. I know a lot of people; some are readers, some aren’t. Even the ones who are don’t necessarily like the same things.

    However, some of my favorites are anything by Christopher Moore (especially Lamb and A Dirty Job), anything by Laurie Notaro (especially the essays), the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde, and the Flavia de Luce series by Allen Bradley.

    1. angie*

      Ah–I share your love of Christopher Moore generally, A Dirty Job specifically AND Flavia. Love that character. These books/authors have such a great sense of humor to them. I love a good book that also is a good laugh. I’ll add Confederacy of Dunces to that list.

    2. Vancouver Reader*

      Im going tohave to put your list on my to read pile. Evanovich is my guilty pleasure and I really like Dorsey too.

    3. bassclefchick*

      Outlander is my favorite series ever! I just finished re-reading Breath of Snow and Ashes, so I still have to get through Echo in the Bone, but I am so excited for My Own Heart’s Blood!

      I also enjoy the J.R. Ward Black Dagger Brotherhood series (different take on the vampire legend) and Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunter series (also vampires). I finished Styxx and was such a wreck my husband thought something horrible happened. Loved how it showed Styxx’s viewpoint of what happened in Ash’s book!

      1. Nancypie*

        Do you know that Outlander is going to be a series on Showtime? It starts airing in late August. It’s not starring Michael Fassbender, though, who I had hoped would play Jamie when something like that got filmed.

        1. NW Cat Lady*

          It’s actually on Starz. :) I don’t have cable at all, let alone the premium channels, so I’m still trying to figure out how to get my hands on this.

  9. The Bimmer Man*

    I’m reading some dollar-store sci-fi book called “Wireless” by Charles Stross. It’s pretty good for a tech junkie like me.

    Now, for some off-topic stuff: I just completed my first week in an awesome, salaried, work-from-home web design position at a small but strong company (and I’m not even out of undergrad yet). I’ve been lurking here for about seven months and this is my first time commenting, but I think at least 80 percent of the impression I made during my interview was due to advice I’ve read on AAM, so a big thank you is due to Alison!

    My question to you all is this: I keep seeing this recurring “Chocolate Teapots” company used in sample job scenarios. When and where did that originate? I think it’s quite charming…

    1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      Alison should consider having a post that just explains and links to in-jokes, since there are a few now and they’re all awesome (see, for example, Wakeen).

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd*

          I am such a meme co-opter, aren’t I?

          I grabbed onto two of the best ones. :p

        2. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

          Some of the oft-referenced letters — pooping in the pot plant and putting curses on coworkers immediately spring to mind…

  10. Bea W*

    A while back on an ooen thread i wrote about whether or not i should pony up the extra $ for business class on a long haul flight or play the upgrade lottery. I leave tonight, and when i checked in the seating chart looked full up front. So glad I spent the extra to guarentee my seats, and reading comments here helped make that decision a bit easier. So thank you to the commenters for your support. I’m excited about my trip! Now all i have to worry about is the heat.

    1. Monodon monoceros*

      I recently splurged and flew business class on a long haul trip. I had been traveling a lot and the thought of another flight was killing me so I went for it. It was so amazing. Now I am completely spoiled! Not only was the flight great, but access to the lounge was wonderful as well. One leg was delayed and I went to the lounge and ate snacks, drank free wine, and sat on comfy couches. So nice.

      1. University Allison*

        A company flying me out for an interview paid for a first-class ticket. Wow. No waiting in security lines, first on the plane, big seat, heated towels, free dinner. It really is superb.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I got economy plus on my upcoming flight to London (both there and back). It said it had up to 4 more inches of legroom. I’m debating whether or not to spring for more upgrade if it’s available and not too pricey, at least on the overnight leg going over. Flying out of my home airport will always be on a tiny regional jet no matter what airline I fly. Luckily that’s not the longest part of the flight!

      1. Artemesia*

        I have done a lot of long haul flights in coach over the past 20 years and the regular coach seats have now shrunk the leg space to the point that I can’t imagine people taller then me (I am 5/8) can fit in them. The Economy Plus which costs extra is about what economy used to be. We can’t quite swing business class for trips abroad but I always buy the economy plus, resenting it all the way.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Tell me about it. I’m 5’11” and I always get a window seat in coach because there is a teeeeeny bit of space where the fuselage curves that I can fit my knees into. They probably will just keep carving it away until people start dropping from deep vein thromboses. And then that probably won’t even stop them. I wish I could afford to fly first class. :(

    3. C Average*

      Have a great trip! Travel safe, have fun, and come back with good stories for the next open thread.

    4. Noah*

      I’m so glad my company pays for business class on anything longer than 6 hours. I think it is really a ploy to have us rested and start work almost immediately after arrival in many cases, but I totally love flying when I get a bed and am served a decent meal.

  11. Stephanie*


    1. Still working on Unreal City by Judith Nies about the dispute about the Black Mesa coal plant and its implications for water infrastructure in the Southwest. Next up is Brazil’s Dance with the Devil: The World Cup, The Olympics, and the Fight for Democracy by Dave Zirin. It goes behind the protests against the Olympics and World Cup.

    2. I think everyone should read The Big Short by Michael Lewis about the buildup to the financial crisis. It cleared up the “why” part to me and I found it to be a good blend of entertaining and explanatory.

    1. Mimmy*

      Does one have to understand the basic terminology and concepts to enjoy this book? Anything finance-related tends to go right over my head, but it’d be interesting to read about the “why”.

    2. C Average*

      Hmmmm. Good stuff. Might have to check out that World Cup book.

      I’ve been toying with attempting to read “The Big Short.” It seems like the kind of book I’d start and not finish, though.

    1. Stephanie*

      Best: Got some cash this week. Felt good to be able to cover a couple of bills on my own.

      Worst: My good friend was supposed to stop here and stay with us on a cross-country drive. Got in a bad car accident (car was totaled) and broke his pelvis in four places (but he’s ok otherwise) and will be wheelchair bound for a month. Scary stuff.

      1. angie*

        Sorry to read about your friend’s accident. Sounds pretty serious and I realize it could have been even worse–glad he’s on the mend.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        I never realized the pelvis could break that many ways. holy crap. I hope he heals quickly.

        Congrats on covering those bills- that always feels good.

    2. Luxe in Canada*

      Best: my nephew was born! I was looking after his older brother, so I was in the house for all but the last fifteen minutes (big brother wanted to go outside “hunting for elephants” and I figured it would be better for him not to hear his momma in that kind of pain).

      Worst: my landlord brought in a pest control guy to do a routine annual inspection of my apartment. No creepy crawlies, but they set down sticky traps without telling me, and I touched one. Sticky surprises are the worst kind.

      1. Ali*

        Best: I got named intern of the week at my internship!

        Worst: All this humidity back where I live and my new Fitbit, which wasn’t cheap, refusing to function, so I had to return it and now I have to spend money on a new heart rate monitor. Sigh.

        1. Audiophile*

          I just bought a fitbit. It’s been pretty good so far. I just have trouble tracking things I eat, since I eat a lot of my lunches at work and kind of have to guess brand/calories.

          Could you get it exchanged? If you just bought it, it should still be under warranty right?

          1. Ali*

            I ordered mine when it was on sale through QVC, and they had no more available when I called about the problem, so they’re just giving me a refund instead.

            1. Audiophile*

              Oh ok, well at least your getting a refund. I just bought a flex from Best Buy, using mostly rewards certificates.
              There’s been some bumps with it’s inaccuracies while I drive, but I quickly figured out how to remedy that.

          2. University Allison*

            Have you tried the MyFitnessPal app on your phone? (Android user here… not sure about iPhone). It “knows” most restaurant brands and if your food has a bar code on it, you can scan it and it will automatically input calories for everything you eat.

            The only problem is continuing to log after 3 weeks… still trying!

            1. Audiophile*

              I’ve seen MyFitnessPal but haven’t use it.

              The fitbit food section isn’t hard to figure out, my only issue is that I tend to eat lunch at the work cafeteria, so for those meals I’m sure I’m not getting an accurate calorie count. But I guess that’s good encouragement to start bringing my lunch again, saving me some money in the long run.

        2. Trixie*

          Ali/Fitbit fans would like David Sedaris/New Yorker: Living the Fitbit Life. “Because,” I told him, “my Fitbit thinks I can do better.”

    3. Windchime*

      Best: It appears that, after 7 long months, my ankle is finally starting to feel better after Achilles surgery. I was able to walk a mile and a half with no repercussions the following day.

      Worst: A deadline is fast approaching at work and the people who are supposed to be helping me with it are not. I may have to see if I can get help from another person. It’s stressing me out.

    4. Jen RO*

      Best: Found out that my best work-friend, who is the team lead for the team I used to be on, is being promoted to manager, and she will also be managing my new team, including the new team lead who always shoots down my suggestions. New manager and I have always been on the same wavelength, so exciting times are ahead.

      Worst: Just woke up and my UTI is back. Yay.

      1. Jen RO*

        And best/worst: Finally figured out that yes indeed my gfx card is dying, but this means that I have chance of getting a working computer on Monday! It’s been odd for many months, but I couldn’t pinpoint the actual problem until last week.

    5. PuppyKat*

      Best: My trip to Washington D.C.!

      Worst: I caught something on the flight home and am now miserably sick.

    6. BritCred*

      best: brill community event yesterday which helped advertise our medieval group and just flew by. Wonderful work by the people who organised it.

      Worst: It flew by and wasn’t til I got home my face went “revenge…..” and gave me wicked sunburn. oops! Oh, and that someone had a whine about one of the pics showing me in a crush velvet dress….

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        Best: reading some excellent books. It’s been a slow week because…

        Worst: living on my last little bit of money until payday (tomorrow!)

    7. Sandrine (France)*

      Best: got to play DDR (Dance Dance Revolution) again yesterday at the arcade. Super exhausting, but super fun… gotta revise the gym budget to go DDRing instead :P

      Worst: got phone stolen, getting fired.

      1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

        I had a plan, that I never put into fruition, to get into shape via DDR. Sooooo much fun. If I lived nearer to an arcade, I think I would go for it. Even if you went as often as you’d go to a gym, I bet it’s cheaper!

        1. Sandrine (France)*

          Pretty much, Kimberlee, Esq!

          They have three machines. Two of them do five songs for 1 token. 1 does three songs. I did 4 sessions (3 on the 5 songs machines, 1 on the 3 song one) and boy did I feel exhausted. And for some reason, I was fiiiiiine on the way home.

          10 euros = 6 tokens (and you get more for 20 euros, as far as I can remember), so it could end up being something like 40 euros/month or something, and I could space things out, so it could end up being less.

      2. samaD*

        when I started getting into shape it was DDR :) I had a PS2, bought the game that came with the mat, and it was amazing to be able to hop on for a session every day!
        thank-you! for reminding me of that….I think it’s time to unbox it again :)

    8. Jamie*

      Best part: project rescheduled so instead of working the planned 70-80 hours this week (2ce yearly major project) I am off for 9 days (although I will go in one day, but my daughter is working with me and office is closed so that’s like a vacation day.). After all this time home my house will positively sparkle.

      Also revamped housecleaning checklist as vacation activities. Huge dork, but it makes me happier than anything else I can think of to do.

      Worst: trying out new keyboard at work and don’t like the finger feel so will switch back. That’s all I got, it was a pretty good week.

    9. Felicia*

      Best: I went to the Dyke March yesterday for World Pride! I was volunteering at a booth and loved seeing all the foreign people who all told us we’re so lucky in Toronto. And all the same sex couples walking hand in hand, some of whom brought their children :) I imagine the World Pride Parade will be good too but that hasn’t happened.

      Worst: I missed choir, and I heard it was more amazing than usual. But I can go this week!

    10. Loose Seal*

      Best: I just started watching The Walking Dead. I had heard of it before, of course, but had never seen it. I’ve spent the last week binge watching it on Netflix and I am hooked! As a bonus, I’ve almost gotten an entire sweater knitted this week while watching.

      Worst: Heck, it’s been a pretty good week. Can’t really complain about anything.

    11. Mimmy*

      Best: Finally getting our hallway back in good shape after last week’s water heater leak. DH and I started to put down new flooring.

      Worst: Learning that a very close friend is having a difficult time with things and not handling it well. She has a history of mental health issues, so I’m hoping she can get things squared away so she can begin treatment in July. Would appreciate some good thoughts for her.

      1. Pussyfooter*

        ****good thoughts…good thoughts…good thoughts****
        and cuddly kittens, teddy bears, whatever helps :’)

    12. Elizabeth West*

      Best part–this week was payday. I got Ed Sheeran’s new album X (Multiply). I love him so much I don’t even mind that he kind of raps on part of it.
      Also yesterday I got the Chevy ignition switch recall repair done, finally. Yeah, I was there for four HOURS, but I’m glad it’s done now. No more fear of sudden death, or loose car key in back pocket. And I got a new key fob (mine was broken). Yay keyless entry again!

      Worst–it will NOT. STOP. RAINING. I wouldn’t mind, except the grass shoots up like crazy and I will probably have to pay for an extra visit from the yard guy.

      That’s not really a bad week. :)

      1. arjay*

        I have to have both the ignition recall and the power steering recall work done. I was waiting to get the ignition done until I got the power steering notice so I could just make one trip to the dealer. So the power steering notice finally came, but they don’t have the parts for that one yet either. My next car is gonna be a Honda.

    13. VintageLydia USA*

      Best: Went to an interior design-centric meetup last night and had a blast! Learned more about my little city (I’m a newbie here) and met a bunch of cool women. I need more lady friends in my life.

      Worst: This week wasn’t too bad, actually! I worst was my kid being extra whiny this week, but that’s kind of normal and barely a blip on the radar.

    14. Persephone Mulberry*

      Best: The presesentation I was supposed to give on Tuesday got pushed back two weeks. I knew my content but was still putting finishing touches on my slides an hour before class, so now I’ve got some breathing room to actually practice.

      Worst: I am having a hell of a time getting this internship I’m supposed to be doing off the ground. I’m working, virtually, with a department that is woefully understaffed and my non-presence means nobody is giving me any direction on the projects I’m supposed to be helping with.

    15. LD*

      Best: finally had a chance to shop for something to wear to my son’s wedding in a couple of weeks and found good options (better than just something to settle for…)
      Worst: Nothing I chose was “on sale”

    16. Audiophile*

      Best: got a callback for second round interview!!
      Worst: current job took my benefits away for the second time in my working history with them. Now I either have to sign up for something on the exchange or pay the penalty. I’ll probably just take the penalty since, I wouldn’t get benefits before January anyway.

    17. Mallory*

      Best: I start vacation (STAY-cation) on Tuesday and will be home for two weeks. We’ll pick up my daughter from Governors School for a 4-day break over the July 4th holiday. (I’m starting my vacation on Monday instead of Tuesday because June 30 is the last day of the fiscal year and I have some transactions to complete).

      Worst: My husband, while digging a six-inch-deep path in which to lay a gravel/paver path from the back door to a seating area in the back yard, discovered a slow plumbing leak from beneath the concrete slab foundation of our house. That means either jackhammering the slab to make repairs or, starting from where the pipes enter the house from the main water line, replumbing the whole house through the attic and letting the old sub-slab pipes sit fallow.

    18. danr*

      Best: had my 65th birthday and an awesome ice cream cake. We will finish the cake tonight.
      Worst: confirmed that my back is not going to get better and I’m scheduled for surgery at the end of the month.

      1. Loose Seal*

        Oh danr, I’m so sorry to hear that. I’ll join you in back surgery purgatory. I’ve had two and going for a third-time’s-a-charm in August.

    19. C Average*

      Best: Lazy kid-free weekend with the husband. (I love my stepkids, but it’s so nice to have the house to ourselves for the weekend.)

      Worst: Stupid lingering allergies. Finally went to the doctor and he told me to try Zyrtec. Tried it and realized that it was among the things I’d already tried that hadn’t been helpful. (It doesn’t seem to make a positive difference, and it gives me weird dreams and unpleasant sleep patterns. It just feels like a bad drug to me, and I’m not taking it anymore. I prefer being allergic to . . . whatever I’m allergic to.) So it’s back to square one. More doctors, more tests, more drugs to try. Ugh.

        1. C Average*

          I haven’t tried that, but I don’t think it will address what I have going on.

          I have really strange symptoms.

          First off, I’m 40 and I’ve never had allergies until this year.

          My eyes are red and swollen and itchy and watery. The watering has caused dry skin and flaking all around my eyelids and down one cheek. I look like I’ve been on a week-long crying jag. This has been going on since March. I’ve been hiding under hats and sunglasses as much as possible, and have even worked from home on a few days when I’ve looked especially disastrous.

          I’ve had no particular sinus issues. I’m not stuffed up or sneezing or anything like that. The doctor says my sinuses are inflamed, but it doesn’t feel like it’s affecting my quality of life. I’m not sniffly or in pain.

          I’ve also had these weird, random patches of eczema on my hands and other parts of my body. I’ve been prone to these breakouts in the past when I’ve dealt with cleaning chemicals, but they’ve been well under control for years . . . again, until March.

          And I’ve just been sort of low-energy and sad. I usually run about 40-50 miles a week, and I’ve barely been running at all. I kind of suspect it’s due to the various antihistamines I’ve been trying, though, rather than the allergies themselves. I’ve stopped taking any drugs and I still look like hell, but I feel a whole lot more like myself energy- and mood-wise. I’ve started running again and it feels great.

          So basically the problem is that I can look awful and feel more or less fine, or I can try to look less awful (by trying to treat whatever is bugging my eyes so much) and feel foggy and sad.

          I’m leaning toward looking awful. Allergy season has to end eventually. (If it doesn’t, I may relocate to the tundra somewhere.)

          I do have an appointment with an allergist to try to get to the bottom of what I’m allergic to and why it’s cropping up now.

          1. Artemesia*

            Why can’t they built a water heater that does not tell you it needs replacing except by dumping 80 gallons of water on your floor.

          2. Vancouver Reader*

            I’d be all for feeling better and looking worse, at least for now. Hopefully the allergist will be able to find something that works for you.

          3. Stephanie*

            Oooh, I got a horrible eczema outbreak earlier this spring. I looked horrible (and of course had a networking coffee meeting when my skin was all scaly and crusty). My eyes got so bad that I was sleeping with cucumbers over my eyes just to cool the stinging.

            Steroids knocked it out for me, but those have kind of unpleasant side effects–mood swings, appetite changes (I was really hungry), and insomnia. I think it’s the nuclear option for allergic reactions.

            I’ve had a lot of sinus issues out here due to the weather. I haven’t been sniffly or congested, but I keep getting bloody mucus and boogers. Using a Neti pot in the mornings helped me with the inflammation and dryness. Humidifier helped too (although I’m sure it’s not that dry in Portland…).

            I’ve heard that consuming local raw honey can help with allergies? I try it, but I’m unsure of its efficacy (but worst case, I’m just eating lots of delicious raw honey, so no complaints about that).

    20. Trixie*

      Best: Last week’s bumper fiasco was fixed for $96 flat. And I discovered a great local auto body shop I couldn’t wait to review online for others to find.

      Worst: Feeling a little more stressed about job searching but treating it with regular exercise/yoga which really helps fight off that nervous energy.

    21. Shell*

      Worst: being super sick with some mysterious gastro-intestinal thing that makes me cramp up when I eat just about anything. (Doctor’s investigating, it just sucks.)

      Best: My wonderful father managed to install a new extra-wide keyboard tray on my desk at home, which is an L-shaped desk that has 5.5 cm difference between the two parts of an L. This desk has strongly contributed to my joint issues, especially when I do gaming. And now I can mouse and keyboard on a surface that’s exactly level, and I even get to keep my feet on the floor!!! :D:D

      Super excited, this will help so many of my joint issues. My computers at home and work are ergonomic now!

      1. Anx*

        That’s fantastic.

        As soon as I’m more financially stable, I want to work on the ergonomics in my home at my work desk. I did get to get a new desk, and while it’s not measured for me it helps me psychology and a little bit physically because there is less cramping and clutter (it’s essentially a table). Next is better lighting (my task light is blue and that hurts/messes with my eyes). And one day it will be a nicer chair.

        Not truly ergonomic but every little bit helps.

        I really believe it’s an excellent use of founds/work to spruce up your work area. You spend hours a day there!

    22. Ruffingit*

      Worst: Trying to get the hang of things at the new job is sometimes a bit overwhelming. This isn’t really a bad thing, just a small difficulty that comes with starting every new job.

      Best: I started right when the pay cycle began so I’ll receive a full paycheck this week. WOO!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Haha- cool! How often does that happen? I can remember waiting three weeks for my first check. That was awful- rolling change to buy gas. That was back when you could roll change and actually get more than two drops of gasoline.

        I took on a part-time job last year with new-to-me type work. I floundered for six months. Then suddenly, I had an ah-ha moment. Things were clicking in.
        It was a moment.
        The next day I was right back to “I will never, ever understand this job.” A few months later I had a chance for training, so I went. And, of course, everyone chats during the breaks. Conversation turned to everyone commenting “Just when things started to make sense about this work, the wheels fell off and I was even more depressed than ever. Right around the six month mark.” hahaha, so I felt I was totally normal. It’s good to do a reality check with others who have been through it.

        (The breaks were more helpful than the training.)

    23. ThursdaysGeek*

      It’s late, but my week best happened on Sunday. In the afternoon I went out to hang up my hammock and read a bit, and as I looked up to connect it to the hook, I saw four sets of eyes looking down on me. Four little screech owls sitting on a branch. We found six owls in our tree, so there are at least four owlets. Worst? Who can remember anything bad when you have owls?

  12. The Maple Teacup*

    A cat related rant here….

    Three months ago I adopted a snow Bengal kitten and named her Asha Greyjoy. The average adoption cost of a Bengal kitten is $1600 to $2500 in my area. I’ve made the mistake of telling people what I paid to adopt her. Everyone (minus two people) have reacted negatively to this information. The most common response is being told I’m frakken crazy with a look of pure horror. Followed with a lecture of how I should be more responsible with my money because “it’s just a cat. You can get one for free on the Internet.” This reaction irritates me. Average Citizen can pay that much for jewelry, a car, cigarettes or any number of material objects. I just happen to value a blue eyed, mini snow leopard type cat. I’m not crazy. Thank you. Needless to say I no longer discuss Asha’s adoption fee in person.

    1. Celeste*

      I watched two friends divorce each other over a Bengal cat. The Bengal adopter mentioned loving the breed and liking how they weren’t allergenic to her. Our friend had a new passion for the Humane Society and ripped her a new one for using a breeder and causing more cats to come into the world when so many already existed and needed homes. No rationale would suffice and she would not let it go, words were said about each other, and they’ve never seen each other again.

      Bengals are amazing, and you can’t just find them anywhere.

      1. The Maple Teacup*

        Ouch. I haven’t had anyone criticise me for adopting from a breeder (yet). But if I had to offer a defence…. 1) I’ve adopted five previous cats from a shelter 2) I’m a monthly donor at an animal shelter 3) I lost two of my beloved cats to ex-husband and will never see them again. So damn it I want a Bengal kitten! Lol . And yes, the traits of the Bengal breed are unique . In a year volunteering at an animal shelter I only saw two come through the doors.

        1. Celeste*

          We both thought the other friend went off the deep end with her new passion for saving shelter animals. She became really monofocused on it, and soon moved on from our circle when nobody wanted to be drafted into her army and either be a fundraising drone or take home an animal.

          Those snow Bengals are lovely!

      2. nyxalinth*

        While I really love the idea of adopting from shelters, and prefer it, I would never bash someone for buying a pet that they really adore from a reputable breeder. I would also never tell someone “why did you spend so much for a cat?” People are so stupid and judgy sometimes!

    2. Windchime*

      My best friend paid an astronomical fee to adopt a “designer breed” puppy. Translation: the dog is a mix of several very cute small breeds. Too much money? Maybe for me, but Friend can afford it and the dog is an adorable, perfect companion for my friend so it was money well spent.

      She doesn’t tell people how much she paid (other than a few close friends), because people will judge. What matters is that you love your pet. It’s your money and it appears that you have spent it in a way that makes you happy so good for you!

      I just googled “snow bengal kitten” — so pretty!

      1. GrumpyBoss*

        I had a friend who paid a fortune for a pug/chihuahua mix. I love all animals, but let me just say that this dog is not cute. It has the most exaggerated features of both breeds, and none of the characteristics that you would associate with either. My friend loves him, so that’s all that matters.

        I won’t say anything to my friend about it, because I have more tact than that. I also don’t want to start the whole breeder vs shelter war, because I doubt anyone ever has changed their mind on where they sit on the position based on a comment on a message board. But I cannot help myself here. If you want a mutt, why pay a breeder for one when thousands are destroyed every day? There is nothing “designer” about a pug/chihuahua mix. More likely, a breeder was irresponsible with a dog in heat and they have to get rid of the litter somehow.

        If people are buying a breed, “designer” or otherwise, I just hope they are using a responsible breeder.

      2. danr*

        Ah, a miniature leopard. We have a ginger male who has decided that he likes us better. So, he’s adopted us.

    3. butter beans*

      I have two of them (a brown marble and a seal mink silver spotted). To me, getting a pet isn’t necessarily about saving lives of animals. It can be and that’s also great. Most importantly it’s about making a friend who is going to be with you for the rest of their natural life. I had a family pet bengal as a kid and I knew I wanted a bengal or two in my life forever. Otherwise, I live simply: older car, small home, no cable tv, less eating out. I have luxury cats who meet me at the door, play fetch, and headbutt every guest I bring into my home. I love them to bits. Enjoy your new friend! :3

      1. Windchime*

        Your cats sound beautiful. My cat did come from the shelter, but he is so pretty. He is long haired, blue-eyed and marked like a Siamese with the points (his vet records say he is lavender points…I love that description). He’s not really Siamese; his mother was feral but something happened to her, so her litter was all bottle-raised by shelter volunteers.

        I love him to pieces, but now I kind of want to get an actual purebred Siamese cat. They are so pretty.

        1. the gold digger*

          We got Siamese/tabby mixes. I forgot what the mix is called. Anyhow, I was hoping for the non-shedding aspect of a Siamese (we had a chocolate point Siamese when I was a kid and we never had to brush him and there was never cat hair in the house) coupled with the sweet little voice of an American housecat.

          Instead, we got the banshee shedding of an American housecat mixed with the loud, unrelenting voice of a Siamese.

          Oh well. We love our kitties.

      2. Graphics monkey*

        Rescue animals aren’t that major of an issue in my country. (There’s very little and most come from the neighbouring countries to the shelters) Anyway while many of my friends have a rescue cat or several I think it’s important to always be aware if you and the rescue pet are a good fit. If it’s your first pet then opt for kittens or puppies rather than an animal that has been feral most of it’s life already. I opted for breed cats and have not regretted a moment. They have great personalities, never bite or claw in any situation. They’re truly my babies.

        I can not take other pets because this is all I can manage but I can still help the shelters via donations of money, food and pet stuff from my kitties that is no longer needed or usable due to them growing into huge kitties. Adopting is not for everyone but you can still be responsible. Buy from a responsible breeder. Most responsible ones did not seem to have no more than two litters a year if at all and the one I bought from quit after this last litter. It was a labor of love to keep this breed alive rather than a money making machine for said breeder.

        Sadly, I agree that pets have been bred purely for human consumption pretty much. To be used as “tools” or “pets”. But you can still love them and give them a good home.

        1. Graphics monkey*

          Shelters still require a small fee for adopting because the adoptees should have been neutered, dewormed, fed, housed, microchipped and had any medical issues taken care of for one.

      3. The Maple Teacup*

        I’m boggling at the beauty of your Bengals. I’d love to have a mink or marble greet me when I come home.

        Like you, I live simply apart from my luxury cat. Modest living situation, older car, don’t eat out much. I saved for two years to afford Asha. I’d have gone the adult Bengal rescue route, but I live with two other adult cats. One cat belongs to my roommate. I NEEDED a feline who could fit into the social structure of the house with minimal strain on the other two.

        Morrie (my 13 year old boy) was abandoned by a neighbour when he was 8. Guy just packed up and left. I didn’t want to leave Morrie at the shelter (officials tried to find his original family) because adult cats have a harder time being adopted.

        Alley (2 year old belonging to roommate) was discovered in an alleyway. Hence the name.

        The breeder I got Asha from is awesomesauce. She serves as a board member at the Humane Society. Donates part of her profits there. Takes your Bengal back to find it a new home if you can’t care for it anymore. Does not support declawing. Acts as a foster home to stray mother cats and kittens. Neuters the Bengal kittens before sending them to their forever homes.

        So there are other ways to support animal shelters beyond adopting out of them.

        1. butterbeans*

          I also saved for two years, starting as a 9-year-old. :) I asked to do filing for my mom in her office and saved every bit of allowance, birthday gifts, and Christmas gifts. That’s how I got my first bengal. My love for their distinct personality was solidified as an 11-year-old.

          A handful of my extended family members berated my mom for allowing me to spend my savings this way. This was my introduction to how people might be judgmental of others who spend their money outside of their personal norms. It was also an introduction to the viewpoint that pet ownership and the role of animals in the lives of humans is a quagmire of ethics. People hold beliefs all over the spectrum–as evidenced from the other replies to your post.

    4. Apollo Warbucks*

      How rude of people to comment on the cost, it’s none of their business and no one knows your finances better than you so they can’t even have an informed opinion.

    5. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I don’t want to be a downer on this thread, but the issue people have with buying from breeders is that 17 million dogs and cats are euthanized in the U.S. each year for lack of homes, so contributing to the market for more to be bred isn’t a good thing. For people who have their heart set on adopting a particular breed, you can often work with breed-specific rescue groups.

      I think the money part is no one’s business, but if any of them are coming at it from an anti-breeder stance, that’s why.

      1. Celeste*

        It’s a catch-22, because if nobody bred the specialties, there wouldn’t be any to rescue; there would only be mixed breeds.

          1. Celeste*

            Lack of spay/neutering is the larger root. We just can’t adopt animals as fast as they can be left to reproduce. Unfortunately, people either don’t want to spend the money on it, or think it’s bad for the animal to prevent it from a natural function.

            1. GrumpyBoss*

              I once volunteered at a cat shelter. You know how many cats we had surrendered or found on the street that were declawed but not spayed/neutered? I’m completely against declawing, but if you decide to do it and your pet is already at the vet, why not spay or neuter at the same time?

              People suck.

              1. The Maple Teacup*

                That’s a good point AAM. It surprises me that I haven’t gotten flack for acquiring her from a breeder. But its from how much she cost. No one has approached this from an anti-breeder stance.

                1. The Maple Teacup*

                  Also, the main shelter from my city went the entire 2013 year without euthanizing an adoptable cat. Go us!

                2. Jamie*

                  The breeder thing isn’t something a lot of people want to get into. If someone talks to me about buying from a breeder I don’t lecture them on rescue animals – clearly they made their choice – but if they told me what they paid I probably wouldn’t comment on that either.

                  But then I’ve always been uncomfortable when people tell me what they paid for anything if it’s expensive – or ask me what I paid for stuff.

                  Crazy bargains, sure. When I got a fridge that retails for over $3k for $900 and some change because it was dented on the side that’s completely hidden by the wall in my kitchen I totally told my friend who had just bought a house and was looking for appliances about the scratch and dent section of the outlet store (because some of the scratches and dents aren’t visible.)

                  But when people tell me about things they spent a lot of money on I have no idea what they expect my reaction to be. Do they expect me to be shocked, impressed, validate their choice? When someone tells me they just spent 12k on a dining room table, or 42k on landscaping*, or 10k on a summer rental for 2 weeks – what is my reaction supposed to be? I’m not jealous, I’m not impressed, I’m not anything…it’s not my money. Sometimes I’ll think it’s stupid, but I keep it to myself** because my not caring outweighs my need to tell them what I think.

                  So what reaction were you looking for when you told them the cost? I’m not trying to be snarky, I’m sincerely curious because if you tell people stuff like this it seems odd to be surprised that they voiced their opinion.

                  * this one I was curious about because we have lots of a similar size and I couldn’t for the life of me imagine how you could drop $42,000 on landscaping unless you were importing exotic plants from outer space. Turns out they were including the cost of the new driveway with the paved interlocking bricks. Damn, those are nice, but my husband says they shift over time due to our winters which makes me feel better about never being able to afford something like that ever.

                  **Unless you are one of my kids and I then I can’t help but turn it into a “teachable moment” because.

                3. the gold digger*

                  The only bragging I do about prices is about what a great deal I found, as in, “Can you believe I got this purse for only $12?” And even then, it’s only to people I know appreciate this sort of thing.

                  But I do like to know what things cost. I asked a friend who was having that eyelid surgery what it was going to cost. She demurred and I finally said, “My mom had it and it cost $6,000. I want to know what it costs here because I suspect I will need it myself in a few years.” Then she told me.

                4. C Average*

                  This is meant to be in response to Jamie’s comments.

                  I find this kind of thing weird, too, and I also wonder why people mention what things cost.

                  I mean, I get the humblebrag: “This thing? I got this in the kids’ section at Target/a garage sale/the Goodwill.” Or “I got a screaming deal on this bike because it’s last year’s model and they were closing it out.” (All real-life examples, alas.)

                  But the handbag that cost more than my car? I’m not sure how I’m supposed to respond to that kind of comment.

                  Generally I change the subject because I don’t know what I’m supposed to say.

      2. NW Cat Lady*

        Thank you for this response, Allison. I was trying to figure out how to say this without sounding judgmental or like I’m on a soapbox.

      3. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        We have always been a rescuers. I haven’t had a dog that wasn’t a rescue since my family dog as a child, and we always have 1 to 2 dogs.

        That said, there’s a whole ‘nother side to rescue stuff in my region, which is the northeast, Philly area. There’s this culture around rescue that throws up a lot of barriers.

        Virtually the only dogs that remain in shelters are pit bulls or street dogs. Rescue groups, most specifically breed specific rescue groups, pick up most of the rest of the dogs and feed them into foster homes. This culture has developed where the people who are running the rescue groups put up giant barriers to adoption — applications, waiting periods, interviews, home visits. I have several friends who have started a process, been daunted, felt insulted, and in the end just went another route because it was all too crazy hard.

        Basically, adopting a dog in my area is so much harder than arranging with a good breeder that, well, that’s what happens next.

        We’ve always gotten our dogs outside the system because once those dogs go into the adhoc rescue system, I do not have the time or patience to deal with those people.

        *pit bulls need rescue, too! My first rescue was literally a street dog, literally off the streets of Philly and into my house. If I ever retire I just might get a house full of them, but the reality is that most families aren’t open to those adoptions.

        1. Stephanie*

          We have a pit mix (pit-lab is our best guess) and he’s the sweetest thing ever. He’s really good with the elderly and kids. Unfortunately, I know there’s a stigma around pits. When our current dog passes on (which I’m in denial about even though he’s 10), I’d totally adopt another pit.

          1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd*

            Definitely do, take two!

            Two dogs are better than one. :)

            (I don’t know how long pits live, but I had a poodle that passed at 18 so, there could be many years ahead for you. Never hurts to stock up early.)

            1. Stephanie*

              He’s a little arthritic, but he still acts like a puppy and jumps around, so maybe the good mutt genes will kick in.

          2. Loose Seal*

            I think pits, in general, are pretty sweet dogs but I’d be worried about getting one because I’d be afraid my home insurance company would drop my coverage.

            1. Stephanie*

              Oh yeah, ours is listed as a “lab mix.” Our neighbors have two pits and I think they had a hell of a time with homeowners insurance.

        2. GrumpyBoss*

          I used to work with a shelter group in Chicago that was so judgmental, nobody ever adopted anything. The only reason I was able to was because I volunteered there and passed their couple month long scrutiny. It was ridiculous. The judgement would be like – Oh, you like that cat. It’s a black cat – are you satanic? Are you going to do something cruel to this animal on Halloween? We better get more references from you…. If an animal came in with a birth defect, like a stubby tail, they’d assume it was a result of human torture and shut down applications for a month so they could investigate. It really became a WTF situation. I watched this cagefree shelter become overloaded and felt horrible and eventually decided to send my volunteer support elsewhere.

          Good news was that I heard several years later they had a complete change in leadership and philosophy. They adopted out so many animals and the shelter was back to a manageable population.

          1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd*

            OMG, that’s exactly what I’m talking about.

            I really wonder if some of the people are animal hoarders. I know of breed rescues where the foster families have 9 or 10 dogs each but nobody will actually let an animal go to an adoption.

            The shelters give breeds to the rescues. An unaffiliated person can’t get them.

            Our dogs have found us by word-of-mouth. My latest came to us a year ago through the UPS driver at work. Long story but his wife had literally rescued an 8 year old bichon whose owner had been placed in an nursing home and he was abandoned.

            Best part was free. He’s been just shy of $4000 in medical bills the last year. :) (He’s the love of my life, don’t tell the husband.)

            1. Meg Murry*

              The shelter in our area has become the person running its personal pet hoarding stash, as far as we can tell. It extremely overcrowded, to the point where she has loaded animals up in her car and had someone drive it around during an inspection. I’ve heard from more than one person that it’s pretty much impossible to actually adopt – you just get strung along by the manager forever on how you can’t take the dog this week because of X or you still need to fill out form Y. Its technically a separate non- profit that has been contracted by our city to act as shelter as on city land, but the city has no power over the manager or the way it’s run. She’s filled the board with her friends and family too, so no one is saying no to her – its really sad.

            2. Jamie*

              I hate that this is the case with some shelters, but for those reading please know that there are good, well run shelters out there who want to place animals in good forever homes.

              We have two near us and each time we adopted there was a screening and with the dogs we brought our current dogs to meet the newcomer first, and brought them home same day.

              There is a small fee – I think around a hundy – but it pays for the spaying/neutering and shots, etc. The bad shelters where they seem to want to horde the little critters are heartbreaking – but there are so many good shelters where the true goal is to keep them as comfortable and healthy while there but to help them find good homes.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Yeah, I think the majority of shelters are good and well run and pretty easy to adopt from if you’re a normal person. These horror stories are more the exception to the rule.

              2. Mallory*

                Yeah, we have a city shelter and a county shelter (for animals found outside the city limits of any city in our county. They are both excellent at caring for and placing animals in forever homes.

                I volunteer at the county one, and the volunteer coordinator there is pure gold. He participates in every local event where we can get the dogs out and seen by the public. We go to the Farmer’s Market every week, and a local girl scout troop made “Please Adopt Me” vests for us to put on the dogs. If there is an outdoor park concert, or local fun run, we take the dogs there, too. Anywhere that they can be seen and adopted. The people have to come to the shelter if they’re interested, and there’s a paperwork process and a few days’ waiting time. But the animals are moved into homes at a good, steady rate.

          2. Tris Prior*

            I believe my ex and I dealt with this organization years ago. We found a cat we wanted but were not allowed to adopt him because apparently our references were not sufficient:

            I put down my mother. They called her, got her voice mail, did not leave a message, and then called me: “OMG your reference is not answering her phone!!!!”

            Ex put down a friend. The shelter was horrified that she was not able to tell them, in detail, about our existing cat’s health, medications, what and how often we fed him, the date of his last vet visit, etc. How many people do you guys know who can talk specifics, off the top of their heads, about how you care for your pet? If we’d known they were going to want that level of detail, we’d have prepped her but we thought the reference check was just a “these people are responsible and do not abuse animals” thing.

            And then, you need to prove that you have enough income to pay for vet care, but the shelter doesn’t want you to be gone all day at a job.

            The last straw was when the shelter wanted to make a home visit and said that if they found anything they disagreed with, they reserved the right to not only refuse to let us adopt, but to take our existing cat away from us?!? Big nope. I figured, at this point, that there would be SOMETHING wrong with our apartment in their eyes.

            1. Diet Coke Addict*

              I knew a girl in university who was rejected from adopting a cat from a shelter because her previous cat had died of old age at the age of 17. They said they could not trust her with an animal after one had died in her care.

              I dunno what happens to elderly animals on their planet.

            2. LF*

              If someone tried to take my existing cat away from me on a home visit, I would call the police and have them charged with theft.

        3. Sabrina*

          Yep, my friend’s sister went through this. Finally their dad got tired of his two granddaughters getting attached to a dog they wouldn’t be allowed to adopt that they went through a breeder.

          Another problem pits face is that some cities have a dangerous dog law which requires some breeds to have special fees and registration.

        4. Harriet*

          Yes, unfortunately. If my dog passes on in the next few years, I’ll have to get a dog from a breeder if I want another because not one of the local rescues will adopt to someone who works full time (even if I make arrangements for someone to pop in during the day) or who has a child under eight. I’d happily adopt a dog, but I can’t.

        5. Elkay*

          This is why we bought our kittens from someone advertising on PreLoved. I’ve had cats my whole life and they’ve all lived to at least 15 being treated the exact same way (mainly totally pandered to). Because we wouldn’t have a cat flap put in they wouldn’t let us adopt kittens. It was also cheaper to get two moggies off the internet than adopt from a rescue. Now they’re complaining they’re overrun with cats needing homes but they judge you so harshly they drive potential adopters away.

        6. Spinks*

          The cat shelters around here put up high barriers also. Now having kept cats, I am pretty sure they aren’t THAT bothered about how tidy your house is, but the shelters approach it as if it was child protection.

        7. samaD*

          similar problems in my area, including the national society.

          LOVE pit bulls :) they are just the sweetest, sweetest gooballs of dogs! they do require owners who are aware that they’re terriers, and that it means they’re bred to think independently and problem-solve but also to be handled a LOT (and that being touched is important to them)
          (I grew up with pits/crosses and pekes and when we got shepherd/maybe something-else cross….such a different personality, reactions, and needs)

        8. Mints*

          Huh that seems weird to me. The Humane Society near where I live is really good. They do watch us interact with potential pets, and ask questions about previous pets and our home etc. But, we’ve gotten all the pets we wanted (one cat with my mom a few years ago, and two with Mr. Mints). (We paid maybe $150 for the first one, and I think $200 for the two new ones)
          I love our shelter; I always recommend it. I overheard an acquaintance saying it was a kill-shelter after five days, and was seriously alarmed, pulled up the info on my phone and shut that down.
          They’re pretty great.

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd*

          Yup, and see how fast they went in the Philly area?

          These dog drivers are doing amazing good deed work.

      4. TheSnarkyB*

        Thanks for reminding us of this. I totally agree.

        Sidenote: Can you really call it adopting a cat if you’re buying it from a breeder? That word seems pretty specific to animals who are taken home from shelters that would have otherwise have had no home or been euthanized. I feel like saying you “adopted” from a breeder is pretty misleading. (That’s to OP, not you Alison)

        1. Monodon monoceros*

          I had this same thought. I’ve only seen ‘adopted’ intense relation to shelter animals.

        2. CrazyCatLady*

          Indeed. I was confused by the OP, because I assumed they were talking adoption fees to a shelter and those costs seemed ridiculous for that. You are buying a pet when you pay that money to the breeder I’m used to hearing that people have paid a fee to adopt from a shelter, but if someone told me they’d paid $1600 to “adopt” a pet I’d think they were crazy. It’s possible that if the OP is using the same language when describing this to people in real life, they are having the same reaction and that may be feeding into their responses. Perhaps not frame this as adopting, since paying a large sum to a breeder for a cat isn’t what most people think of as adopting.

          1. The Maple Teacup*

            I use the word “adopting” because I’m uncomfortable applying the words “buy” and “own” to a living animal. To me it evokes a mental concept of owning property that has no rights, like a chair. Though I own my pet, she has more rights than a chair. When I talked to people I said “I bought her for $XXXX.”

      5. Kiwi*

        The focus of responsibility should be on the irresponsible owners who produced the 17 million euthanised animals.

      6. Anx*

        In many areas it’s difficult to find a certain style of dog. Where I am, almost every dog I ever see is a large dog with a high exercise requirement. It could take years to find a small one that also is a good match. When you rent, having a larger dog can greatly reduce your ability to secure safe, affordable housing. It’s a crummy cycle where dogs are surrendered because of housing issues but they are less adoptable because of those same housing issues.

        Breed specific rescues can be very difficult to work with. You often have to work from home, have a fenced in yard, no children, not be young enough where they think you might want children, have a certain income, and travel several hours to even meet a potential match.

        That animal homelessness is a major problem is undeniable, but there isn’t pet for everyone at a shelter (without having to wait for years).

        That said, I heard from someone that organizations exist that will help arrange transportation between a dog and potential adopter and I had never known that before last year. So that helps reduce the distance barrier considerably (although I still feel weird about putting dogs on planes).

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I’m worried about putting misinformation out there that could discourage people from adopting from shelters. The highly restrictive shelters being described here are the exception, not the rule. At most shelters, if you’re a responsible person who’s committed to giving an animal a safe and lifelong home (and to not declawing or otherwise causing them harm), you should be able to adopt. There’s no reason for anyone to be buying animals from breeders or pet stores.

          1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd*

            If people are having trouble in their area, may I suggest that they do what we did.

            I put the word out to everyone (I’m a chatty person and I know a lot of people :p), everyone that we were looking for a new family member. I asked them to spread the word, spread the word, spread the word.

            I’m allergic so there were only a limited number of breeds that we could take in, but we were open to an older dog so we had that in our favor.

            It took less than two months for Casey to find his way to us, through the UPS driver who delivers to our warehouse. He had a dog to place and was asking all along his route. Casey was in our family within 48 hours of that.

            Since then, I’ve had to turn down :( three other dogs pre shelter, point being, there are other ways to find your new family members beside traditional routes.

            PSA: Please WATCH Craigslist and don’t necessarily believe what you read there. Unfortunately, there are people home breeding dogs for the specific purpose to sell them on Craigslist with an “adoption fee”. This is a bad, bad practice, please don’t pay money to individuals on Craigslist for any dogs, unless they are an established non profit rescue.

    6. Jen RO*

      I would also be shocked at the cost, but well, your money, your cat, not my or their problem.

    7. Glimmer*

      I also adopted a cat recently and named her Asha Greyjoy! And mine is a silver tabby, run of the mill domestic shorthair, and I’ve still had people look askance at me because I paid $300 to a shelter rather than get a freebie off Gumtree. You can’t win.

      1. The Maple Teacup*

        @ Jamie:

        I did not tell them the cost of Asha unsolicited. When people find out I have a new kitten they ask how much she was. I told them the information to answer the question. Nothing more.

    8. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      Honestly, I would have been one of those people looking in horror (and complaining behind your back). But, and I feel silly about this now, I’d never thought to compare it to other things that people spend a lot of money on. Now, I still judge people who buy super expensive things, but I’m trying to be better about that, and your comment made me realize that I shouldn’t have this separate category in my mind of people who adopt expensive pets… Like I can feel however I want about the expense, but it’s not a separate moral judgement because it’s a cat versus a purse, you know?
      Always learning more ways to be less judgey. :)

      1. The Maple Teacup*

        One of the horrified people bought a $1600 dirt bike the week before. Okay, you bought a vehicle….I bought a cat. Same amount of money. Another was planning a vacation in France. My money just went towards an animal. :)

        1. GrumpyBoss*

          A couple years ago, my dog had a seizure and went into a coma. It was on Thanksgiving day, so finding a Vet with a neurosurgeon on call was difficult (read: not cheap). A week in the puppy ICU, cat scans, MRIs, and a spinal tap. $10,000 later, I had a diagnosis of a completely treatable disease. I never blinked an eye at what it cost. This IS my baby. I love her more than my dear hubby. I glad I could save her life and look forward to a few more years with her.

          But yeah. People love to tell me how they feel I wasted money.

          Side note: new furbaby parents, please consider pet insurance. I wish I had.

          1. Relosa*

            This! My 10 year old Malamute mix just had spinal surgery, and also a weeklong ICU stay and all the diagnostics to go with it (herniated disc). His quality of life has not suffered in any way and he’s not only already walking, but progressing every day in his recovery.

            Some people balked that I’d spend $6,000+ on the treatment that I didn’t have – screw them. It would have cost five times that much for a human.

            He has the Banfield program which helps a lot – it pays for itself with the yearly dental cleaning – but after this mess I am definitely considering a separate insurance plan for him. I’m sure he will have more issues as he gets older now that he’s had this injury.

            Ugh, seriously, I do not get people who think pets/any sentient thing non-human is disposable!

          2. Windchime*

            Yeah, I spent over $4k on a 17 year old cat. He had been pretty healthy until the last year or so of his life and so I didn’t mind even though it was a lot of money. I loved him.

            I’ve been offered the pet insurance at my vet a couple of times. I should purchase it next time New Kitty has an examination. The vet says it would have covered most of OldKitty’s health expenses.

      2. C Average*

        Kimberlee, thanks for expressing this so well. I feel exactly the same way.

        (My $80 shelter cat agrees!)

    9. Elizabeth West*

      It’s your money. I wouldn’t spend that much for a cat, but that’s probably because I’d rather use it for travel. The only thing I rant about with kitties is declawing.

      I also just looked up those cats and they are really pretty!

      1. Jamie*

        Agreed on the declawing. I have two that are, but they were rescues and it was done by their previous owner.

        I’m opposed to the practice, but it is amusing when my two elder ladies with no claws watch the boys wrangled for their pedicures. They have such looks of smug superiority as if they are above such things.

    10. Noah*

      I’m sorry, that sucks. There is someone where I work that is like that. I have a beagle puppy and received a lecture on all the animals in the shelter that needed homes. I tried to explain that I needed a puppy that was already housebroken and crate trained because of my work schedule. Also, the puppy can go stay with the family I adopted him from while I am traveling at no cost.

      Also, I tired working with the local beagle rescue group and gave up due to frustration. There was a 10 page application, 2 interviews, a home visit, and 5 references. Apparently the fact that I am single is a dealbreaker for them because there would be no one to take care of the dog if I died. I tried explaining that I have family close by, who in the unlikely event I died at 29 years of age would be willing to take care of the dog, but they didn’t like the answer. Finally I just gave up and sought out another route.

      1. Anx*

        To be perfectly blunt, I think many breed rescues have a pretty narrow definition of who is a fit adopter. And if you’re 29, I’m not surprised. The pictures of the adopters on the breed sites I frequent (I’m not in a position to adopt a dog right but I can’t help looking in case a local one needs fostering) are usually of retired or semi-retired Boomer couples.

  13. Scott*

    I’m reading:

    1. “Got What It Takes? Successful People Reveal How They Made It to the Top” by Bill Boggs
    2. “Unconscious Branding: How Neuroscience Can Empower (and Inspire) Marketing” by Douglas Van Praet

  14. Ruffingit*

    Has anyone read Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Cove series? I read them all and ended up wanting to cry at how stupid and downright insane some of the plots were. I enjoyed her Blossom Street series, but Cedar Cove made me want to weep for the world given that the books are quite popular and yet are pure crap basically.

    1. E.T.*

      I read the first two Cedar Cove books a long time ago when they first came out; actually, I don’t know if “read” is the right word, since I kept skipping parts because the books didn’t interest me. I like the Blossom Street series too.

    2. Carrie in Scotland*

      I haven’t but I did enjoyed watching the Hallmark channel’s tv show based on the books with Andie Macdowell and Pacey’s brother from Dawson’s Creek.

    3. bassclefchick*

      I read all of the Cedar Cove. I enjoyed them very much. But I didn’t expect much from them either. I looked at them as a fun way to pass the time on the bus, so it worked. I do also enjoy the Blossom Street series. Rose Harbor Inn series is pretty good so far.

      1. Ruffingit*

        I just got so tired of the bizarre themes that made no sense at all and repeated themselves too. Such things as more than one woman getting pregnant and deciding not to tell the father. That was overused. One woman in town has a breakup so ditches her great job and breaks her apartment lease and leaves town. Another wants to play silly games with her boyfriend and she’s well into her 50s. I could go on and on, but it just got stupid at some point for me. I love Macomber and expected a lot better from her having read and enjoyed many of her other books.

  15. angie*

    I am loving all the book recos so far! I am intrigued by The Last Convertible though, never heard of it, never read the author. WYG, Bernadette and Wolf Hall are in my September stack to read.

    I just finished We Are Called To Rise by Laura McBride. I’s one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. I’m also now reading Lexicon by Max Barry and On Writing by Stephen King. All very different and all worth a read.

    One that I highly recommend, particularly to anyone who hearts the 80s is Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. Original, says something and fun to read–I loved it!

      1. angie*

        Will have to try that! I hadn’t read any Max Barry before, but Lexicon won’t be the last. Would never have stumbled onto Max Barry if it weren’t for Book Riot!

  16. Ruffingit*

    Just finished The Diary by Eileen Goudge. Highly recommend it. Also anyone here a fan of audio books? I drive a lot so I do a lot of my reading that way.

    1. Jen RO*

      I listen to audiobooks in my way to work, and yesterday I discovered that my boyfriend’s new car can output the audio on your phone via Bluetooth! (This might have been obvious to the whole world, but I didn’t know this feature existed – I’m on my first car and it has no bells and whistles). Right now I just put on headphones to listen to books (bad idea, I know), but I have decided that my next car will have all the fancy features.

    2. PuppyKat*

      I love audio books! When I’m swamped at work, they’re about the only things that make me feel like I have the semblance of a civilized life.

      In reference to a comment upthread about “To Kill A Mockingbird,” I listened to it for the first time this past spring. And with Sissy Spacek narrating, both the writing and speaking performance were absolutely revelatory to me.

    3. Stephanie*

      Me! Although I’ve learned the hard way that the author reading the book isn’t always a good thing. For a long-distance drive, I bought “In Defense of Food” read by the author (Michael Pollan) and it was pretty obvious he wasn’t an actor. I zoned out a few times.

      I really like podcasts in the car (I drive a lot, too).

    4. C Average*

      This is a big tangent, but I always see Eileen Goudge’s name and wonder if she is related to Elizabeth Goudge. Elizabeth Goudge was an English writer, very popular in the ’50s, who wrote one of my very favorite books ever, “Green Dolphin Street.”

      I found it on the bookshelf of my mother’s aged aunt when we were on vacation. I think I was 16. There was no blurb to read, no cover image to suggest what I might be getting into, no Amazon to give me a star rating. Just an old book with a green cloth cover. It remains one of the most delicious surprises of my existence. I like it so much I have literally contemplated recording myself reading it so I can have an “audiobook” version of it. (No audiobook has ever been made of it, understandably.)

      1. Mallory*

        . . . I have literally contemplated recording myself reading it so I can have an “audiobook” version of it.

        That reminds me of when my kids were younger, and I would record my nightly bedtime story-reading with them. We recorded nightly until they each had a full cassette tape, front and back. They loved those tapes (they called them their “Momma-head tapes”) and that they could listen to them anytime they wanted to. Besides me reading the story, there was also their own giggling or asking questions, so they liked hearing that, too.

        1. Liz in a Library*

          Awww…my dad did this for us as kids (he worked nights and so was rarely there for bedtime). They were so, so treasured, I can’t even tell you. I’m so glad other parents are doing this, too!

  17. Fruitfly*

    I am currently reading Woe is I by Patricia T. O’Connor. I read it because I wanted to improve my grammar skills, which I mentioned in a Open Thread a few months ago.

    I would recommend everyone to read The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga. Even though I think the outcome of the protagonist is far from realistic, I do believe that the book portrays a vivid picture of what is like living in poverty in India or in any other developing country, where corruption and classism is notorious. The story is filled with dark humor; it is about an impoverish Indian man who murders his master in order to ascend to be a rich man. The story shows the pressures the poor protagonist and his master goes through as they adjust to life in New Delhi, India. The corruption of the city drives the master to transform from a polite American to a corrupted man, who is willing to bribe government officials and sent his servant to jail for a crime his wife committed. Similarly, the discrimination and poor treatment drive his servant to be more intelligent….and malicious.

  18. Ali*

    So I may have to give up BodyPump, which is one of my favorite classes at my gym, for a while. I found out the other day in a class with two subs/co-teachers that my preferred instructor (who was out because she was on vacation) has to move her class time for a few months to a slot where I’m not sure I can make it. My other option during the week consists of a girl who is nice enough, but not really my favorite with her more boot camp, shrieky motivational style.

    Plus, my class on Thursday didn’t go well, as I was made to put down my bar during one of the segments and hollered at by the co-teacher for needing a breather during a separate one. Yes, hollered at. I intended to pause for no longer than five seconds (I did the 30 Day Shred, after all, and that was Jillian’s mantra about rest), and she saw me, shook her head and said DON’T YOU DARE STOP! I didn’t really feel it was necessary to call me out like that in front of everyone just because I’m not in perfect shape like the rest of the thin girls who come to class.

    Sigh…I guess I will find something else to do until my favorite teacher comes back.

    I know that some people who exercise really do respond to the boot camp, in-your-face style, but I prefer the encouraging yet not coddling method the other instructor supplies. I just don’t really think it’s necessary to scream at someone who is at least showing up and trying, unlike some of the people I’ve seen in group exercise classes, like the one lady in Zumba who will take a spot in the first two rows and stand there if she can’t follow a move…

    1. Newsie*

      I so feel you… I was heartbroken this week when I realized the spin teacher I took on Friday afternoon that I love, is only teaching this week at 6:30AM. Sigh. This guy encouraged us in a very positive way individually when we were lagging, and found us all in the lobby after to high-five us. YES.

      I hate teachers who scream at me so much.

    2. Trainer*

      Firstly, it’s worth speaking to the shrieky instructor and letting her know this. If she’s any good, she can take feedback and adapt to it. Get there early and have a quiet word, see if she takes it on board.

      Secondly, Zumba lady may well be trying her best too, so how about not judging her for not being able to do it all?

      1. Fish Microwaver*

        I agree about the Zumba lady. It’s not always easy to co-ordinate all the moves and sometimes you just need a breather until you can get back into the sequence.

        1. Ali*

          Oh gosh…I know Zumba isn’t always easy. I was going to teach it, but never got started. I went to an instructor training course and life just got in the way of me being able to teach, so I dropped my license. My main point is her stopping and just standing there in the middle of the room could cause an accident. At least if I need to breathe in BodyPump, I can put my bar down safely and not risk clocking another participant since we leave each other plenty of space (plus, a BodyPump class can only hold so many people because of the equipment). The Zumba class I go to can be crowded and doesn’t allow for that. This lady has been coming for months and will still stop dead if she doesn’t get something. I’m not saying she shouldn’t come, but perhaps consider standing off to the side or in the back because one day, she might get hurt by continuing to stand in the first or second row and watch.

        2. Kimberlee, Esq.*

          I am often that Zumba lady, as I am horrible uncoordinated and sometimes just need to stop a second and watch, and then sort of jump in when it makes sense. :)

        3. Harriet*

          And, if you are the unfortunate combination of a glasses wearer and a face sweater, you might need that spot in the front to make sure you can actually see what you’re doing! I hope nobody in my pilates class is grumping because I’m not very good and at the front.

        4. C Average*

          I am the clumsy Zumba lady.

          I stand in the back row because I don’t want to throw off the rest of the class. No matter how hard I try, I always wind up going left when everybody’s going right, or getting all confused when I have to do something complicated with my arms and legs at the same time. I’m fit enough to keep up in terms of energy level, but I am so, so clumsy.

          I figure I am doing everyone else a favor by being there. No one wants to be the worst one in the class. I am removing that onus for everyone else. I am the worst in the class, no competition, so everyone else can chill out and have fun.

          1. Artemesia*

            LOL — I would certainly appreciate you as a clod through another step aerobics, weight and floor exercise class. Because with out you I AM the worst one in the class.

    3. Mimmy*

      That’s why I stopped watching “The Biggest Loser”. I just could not stand to watch Jillian screaming at people who probably haven’t exercised in ages, if ever.

      1. Ali*

        I know! I was upset at being yelled at in class and I do work out and have lost almost 20 pounds. I guess I just don’t fit in with this particular teacher’s classes since she and most of the other class attendees (along with the other co-instructor) are already thin and have perfect bodies. When my favorite teacher is there, I feel more comfortable knowing that she’s in shape, yes, but she doesn’t have the rock-hard, fitness model type body and she’s definitely not intimidating and mean in her teaching style. She tries to empathize with everyone, whether you’ve been coming to the gym forever or are not quite on that super-fit level.

        1. Colette*

          The thing is that being thin has nothing to do with being fit.

          I agree you should tell her it wasn’t how you’d like to be treated. I’d even go further and bring it up to management if it happens again.

    4. the gold digger*

      Whoa. I hate body pump because of the music. I never wanted to hear a rap version of the Lonely Goatherd song from The Sound of Music, but Les Mills decided that was the perfect track for bench presses.

      So the music alone is enough to (almost) keep me away. I would definitely quit if someone yelled at me. This is not the marines!

      1. Ali*

        Oh dear. Thankfully I was not taking BodyPump at the time of whenever that song was used! That would kill me…

    5. Elkay*

      I’m like the Zumba lady. I like to be at the front so I can follow the instructor rather than doing Chinese whispers by following the people in front of me. Sometimes I miss a step or have to pause to get on the right foot.

    6. Trixie*

      I had a similar experience in LM Body Combat and its a fine line between encouraging your class and just yelling too much. I pretty much avoid certain instructors now and have backed it off to once a week in favor of other cardio. Really poopoo-ed the local Dance Trance but have really come around. Great cardio workout plus it challenges my memory/coordination. Please they don’t yell at you.

      Took a long break from Body Pump because I was just getting burned out on the routines, music, etc. Started new release on Friday and really enjoyed it so thinking these breaks to mix things up are a good thing.

    7. Ruffingit*

      So with you. I do not do well under abusive tactics with exercise. It doesn’t motivate me, it makes me want to walk away.

  19. kas*

    I haven’t read a book in months. I’m heading to the book store tomorrow and was wondering if anyone has any thriller/mystery recommendations? The last few books I read were by James Patterson but I’m looking for something intense.

    1. Celeste*

      “Intensity” by Dean Koontz will get the job done, then. I still shudder when I remember what it did to my heart rate.

    2. Monodon monoceros*

      I like Jo Nesbø’s books. A little bit of Nordic noir, maybe not intense enough, but I find his stuff entertaining.

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        There is lots of Nordic noir to be had, if you like Nesbo, have you tried Thomas Enger, Jussi Adler Olsen, Mons Kallentoft, Asa Larsson, Mari Junstedt, Yrsa Sigurdottir and Kristina Ohlsson? (I read lot of it, as you can tell!)

        1. Monodon monoceros*

          Thanks for the suggestions! I’m currently trying to read Jo Nesbø in Norwegian, so it is going very slowly (my Norwegian is not very good yet so I read with google translate open), but I’m writing down these authors and hopefully I’ll get to them one day!

    3. LD*

      Also, check out John Sandford’s series of books if you like murder mysteries from the perspective of the investigator(s); I really enjoy the “Eyes” series. If you haven’t read Jonathan Kellerman or Faye Kellerman, their books are good, too. Jonathan has a series abut a child psychologist who gets involved with the LA police department that is interesting and covers some pretty serious material. I have to be sure to have something “happy” to do after reading some of his novels.

    4. salad fingers*

      Berlin Noir by Philip Kerr! It’s a compilation of the first three books of the Bernie Gunther series, which features a WWII era private detective getting caught up in lots of interesting crap all over Europe. It might be more historical fiction (I don’t know the mystery/thriller genre well at all, tbh) but very worth the read! I found this book abandoned on the subway and loved it, so thanks subway gods!

  20. Celeste*

    NPR had a book challenge last year and I took it. The challenge was to re-read “My Antonia” by Willa Cather if you had read it in high school. The book was marketed to young adults because the main characters met in their youth. But, young people who read it usually didn’t love it, and just got through it to complete the assignment. However, the book simply resonates with adults. I was thrilled with it this time, and thought it was absolutely sterling writing about Midwestern pioneer life and the human condition. It was funny how even while loving this book in my 50s, I could also remember slogging through it at 17. Anyway, it was an interesting experiment and you might enjoy doing it, too.

    1. angie*

      Interesting, because I did read My Antonia in high school and remember not caring for it, though I didn’t actively hate it like The Great Gatsby. I’ might have to try this also.

    2. NW Cat Lady*

      I didn’t read My Antonia in high school, but this made me go get it from the library for my Kindle. More things to read, yay!

  21. Jen RO*

    I am still listening to the Dark Tower in my car and NOS4A2 in my tablet… been reading kinda slowly lately (I started watching Orphan Black after I saw it mentioned here, and it’s eating up my evenings).

    1. Jen RO*

      And a related question: if you’ve read The Wind Through the Keyhole, what did you think about it?

      1. Stephanie*

        I am reading the Dark Tower series for the first time right now! I am on Wolves of Calla now, but I did read The Wind Through the Keyhole beforehand as people said that it didn’t spoil anything.

        I liked the book — it was a shorter story (in comparsion) and it really doesn’t focus at all on the ka-tet. It is mostly another Roland flashback with an even less related story he tells while in the flashback. But I like Roland and I loved the flashback in Wizard and Glass.

        Although, when I started Wolves of Calla I realized how much I had missed Eddie, Susanna, Jake, and Oy! I know I still have two books to go, but I am already dreading the end of the story…

  22. Sam*

    I think I’m the last person on earth to read The Poisonwood Bible, but I finished it today, and really liked it. It was difficult to put down, the characters were interesting and well-developed, and the story explored a time and place (Belgian Congo in the late 1950s) with which I hadn’t been very familiar before.

    1. local gov't worker*

      You’re not the last – I haven’t gotten around to it yet. I did recently finish Flight Behavior, Barbara Kingsolver’s 2012 book. I liked it; it was about monarch butterflies landing in Tennessee to overwinter and how a particular family is affected.

    2. KAZ2Y5*

      I love that book! My son recommended it to me–this was one of his assigned readings in his high school Honor’s English class. This was the first book in a long time that made me cry (I will just say that this happened near the end, to not spoil it for anyone else).

    3. Mints*

      It’s loaded on my kindle, so I’m guaranteed to read it within a couple weeks, but not quite yet.
      I really really enjoyed “The Lacuna.” Though it seems like that’s not one of her more popular books. I really like latin american history, and enjoyed that aspect. Some reviews I read didn’t like the main character, but I did, even though he’s a bit flat.
      I also read “Prodigal Summer,” and very distinctly enjoyed one of threads, and was kind of meh about the other two threads. I would have enjoyed a book only about the woman who I liked.

  23. PuppyKat*

    I’m back from my trip to Washington D.C.! Just want to thank everyone who commented a few months back when I posted about my plans. Although I couldn’t fit everything in, it was an absolute blast! I’m definitely going to try to return next year. So much to do and see there!

      1. PuppyKat*

        I’m such a museum geek, too! Yes, we reserved one entire day for the Smithsonian and went to three of their museums. Absolutely awesome! Another day was spent at the U.S. Capitol and Library of Congress and walking by the White House; a third at the Washington Monument and all the memorials on the west end of the Mall. And then we spent our fourth day at Mount Vernon.

        I’m so impressed with their public transit! We were going to explore the option of renting a car to travel to Mount Vernon, and then discovered that we could get there using a combination of the Metro rail and bus. Extremely convenient and affordable.

        But for all the stuff we crammed in, there’s still so much that we had to leave out. I’ve started a whole new list of places to visit on our next trip. Can’t wait!

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Ooh, Mount Vernon was awesome. And the Metro was cool too. Because of my prior trip to London, I was the only one in my college group who could read the map. Impressed the hell out of everyone :)

  24. local gov't worker*

    Recently finished Casebook by Mona Simpson; Hidden by Catherine McKenzie; and The Wife by Meg Wolitzer. All three have a bit of suspense, plot twists but aren’t the typical mystery novel. Currently reading The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling.

  25. T*

    I recently read Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper. It’s told from the perspective of an 11-year-old girl with cerebral palsy. She’s super smart, but most people think otherwise because she can’t speak and they often can’t see past her condition. I think Draper does a good job of making the reader feel empathy without feeling depressed and without being sappy. It is a children’s book, but I think a lot of kids’ books are so well written and more adults should read them.

  26. Shell*

    Ranting, sorry.

    I am still sick, sick, sick. Surrendered and went to the doctor’s early, got some drugs, got a blood test, and I’m waiting (two weeks! TWO WEEKS!!) for my turn at an ultrasound exam. In the meanwhile, I’ve been ordered to have a “plain, light diet” and my doctor said it shouldn’t be anything too serious, judging by my general health and my age.

    FODMAP diet sucks so hardcore, I gotta say. And I need to do better portion control–sometimes even very plain, light things give me an episode (even with medicine!!) because I eat too much. At least I’m guessing that’s why. But seriously, after two weeks of limited caloric intake I’m freakin’ HUNGRY when I’m not too bloated to eat.

    My 5-day weekend, originally planned for awesomeness and fun, is shaping up to be a lot of hugging heat packs and eating rabbit food. Ugh, life sucks.

    1. Fodmapper*

      Low FODMAP pretty much saved my gut and my whole body. Although I did it on my own because no doctors knew anything about it at the time. I didn’t limit the amount of calories either because glucose is a fast digesting sugar which means you should actually feel full when you are and I have no problem with dairy.

      Just saying that it doesn’t sound right if you’re hungry all the time. No diet should make you feel that hungry in my opinion. Eating several small portions? Not that I know your situation here but I’m guessing you’re still eating something that’s not right for you. Keeping a food diary? Oatmeal and potatoes are great for this diet but some people’s gut can’t deal with those. And don’t get discouraged because after you find what works and stick to it for a time your gut will start tolerating small amounts of other things again. I noticed I can have cake and sweets every now and then again!
      I started from a similar list and then made personal changes according to my symptoms.

      It is hard though, I should know. Especially the beginning. Every time I ate something unsuitable it was a whole day wasted and three days in total until the offending food is out of the system. Symptoms can show up delayed as much as in the next day of eating or immediately. Good luck!

    2. Hope*

      I hope you can get some relief and answers soon. I have used the FODMAPS diet and it can really suck the joy out of eating. Not to mention making you feel pretty hungry. It did help my tummy calm down though. :-(

  27. Graphics monkey*

    This is completely off topic but AAM I love when you post photos of your cats. They’re adorable!

    I just went to a job interview where the HR department of the company sent me timed IQ-test and a personality test to fill out online after securing an interview. There was a deadline so I first went to the interview to see if it was worth it and sure enough the interview went nicely and I got a really good feeling of the place. I have worked for a big corporation before so I figured the tests must’ve been the HR’s requirement and not the hiring director’s. I thought it was majorly dumb though. I almost didn’t go through all that trouble but only because the interviewers seemed nice I went with it.

    1. Graphics monkey*

      Oops I just realized this was supposed to be non-work related, sorry about that! Started reading from the bottom up.

    2. Jamie*

      I wish we could trade testing for the actual talking portion of the interview.

      Not as an interviewer, but if I were an interviewee. I make a much better impression on paper before I ruin it by speaking.

  28. Rayner*

    Brief life moving update from Finland, for anybody who cares to know:

    1. Have some more work to do in the apartment, but I think I can get it down to four to six hours, all in, not including the mountain of scanning that I found I had to do. Huzzah?

    2. All of the non-necessary furniture has been discarded, sold, or hocked, and everything else that’s here has to stay because it came pre-furnished.

    3. I have a pile of library books I dug up from the bookcase. WHY do I have a stack of library books?! I thought I returned the damn things last month, but nooooo. Seriously. That’s another thing to do in the morning of tomorrow.

    4. Tomorrow morning is looking like a helterskelter of not so much fun. I have paperwork to file, a bank to go to, a library to return books to, and my keys to return to the apartment people. All in the space of about three hours. The last train I can make to Helsinki is one that leaves at two pm. I want the one that leaves before that because otherwise it’s going to be so tight to get to the airport at the other end.

    5. I estimate that I’m sixty per cent done with packing and cleaning here, have cracked the hard, gross parts, and just need to push on with it. I know Alison doesn’t like the phrase ‘big girl job’ but seriously, I just need to hitch up the big girl underwear and get the job done.

    (But all the time, I’m like, “But I dun waanaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.” *is four*)

    6. Once that’s done, I’m going to spend a few hours just writing letters and packing up presents for people. I took your advice, Elizabeth the Ginger, BrianA, Graciosa, Not so New Reader, C – Average, Ruffingit, and Mints, and most people are going t get something small and pretty, with a heart felt letter. I just need to spend some time actually writing them all today.

  29. Daisy*

    I just finished Gasa-gasa Girl.

    A book I like, that I’d generally recommend is A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

    1. Diet Coke Addict*

      One of my favourite books of all time. I’ve lost track of how many people I’ve forced to read it.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is on my all-time faves list. Oh that book is so good. I read it as a teenager and it just blew me away. We saw the film in school, and I liked it, but it just wasn’t anywhere close to the majesty of the novel.

      1. Mallory*

        One of my favorite books of all time, too. We listened to it as a family on a 12-hour drive to Denver to visit family, and everyone in the family enjoyed it very much.

    3. C Average*

      Oh my gosh. I love “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.” When I see copies at yard sales, I buy them so I can give them to people who haven’t read it yet.

      (I do the same thing with “My Utmost for His Highest,” “Angle of Repose,” and other books I really love and think others might enjoy.)

      1. Windchime*

        “Angle of Repose”! I loved that book and I don’t think I’ve ever seen it mentioned in online discussions of book recommendations.
        I should dig out my copy and re-read that one.

        I recently read The Goldfinch and liked it. Very long and very dark, but it was a good read and kept me involved. I’ve also read several books lately by a British author named Luke Smitherd. He seems to be interested in the afterlife and people getting stuck in Limbo, basically. Interesting stuff, but I can see how it might not appeal to everyone.

    4. Persephone Mulberry*

      Oh my goodness…I haven’t given “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” a thought in YEARS, but now I want to drop everything and read it again.

    5. Rach*

      A Tree Grows In Brooklyn is my favorite, favorite. I picked up a copy for a quarter at a used book sale when I was 12, and by the time I was 18, I had destroyed three paperbacks from re-reading (and probably reading in the bath). It just spoke to me in high school. For my eighteenth birthday, my mom found me a beautiful hardcover copy. I haven’t thrashed that yet, and I don’t read it as often (but still probably once a year), but it’s my ultimate comfort book.

      1. Deedee*

        On the subject of old books about teenage girls coming of age… “I Capture the Castle” by Dodie Smith is right up there with “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” in my opinion. Love, love this book and have re-read it at least ten times since I was a teenager and found it on my (British) Aunt’s bookshelf during a boring family get-together.

  30. BritCred*

    The Deverry Series by Katharine Kerr. Magic and reincarnation medieval series with a few ‘wars’ but from the personal point of view rather than the ‘epic battle’ side.

    15 books long but worth the read!

  31. Carrie in Scotland*

    Oh Alison….you just know we are all going to be putting loads of new books on our wishlists/reservation lists/goodreads! I can’t get mine down as it is.

    Just finished: Elizabeth is Missing – Emma Healey. V good – about an older lady who is forgetful but she does remember that her friend Elizabeth is missing – how can she unravel the mystery when she can’t remember the clues?
    The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August – Clare North – a bit like Atkinson’s Life After Life, I thought this book was one of the best I’ve read in a really long time. A man who is born again and again receives a message that the world is ending. Can he stop it?
    Also on my to read pile is Frances & Bernard, The Facts of Life and Death (crime), North and South (classic) and The Legacy of Elizabeth Pringle (beautiful cover in HB).

  32. E.T.*

    Just reread The Innocent Man by John Grisham. It left me a little depressed about the police and legal system in our country.

    After this book, I wanted to read something light. Coincidentally, someone listed a large shopping bag full of Archie Digests comics for free on Craigslist yesterday, So that’s what I got and what I am reading now.

  33. CoffeeLover*

    I’m currently reading The Long War by Stephen Baxter and Terry Pratchett. It’s the sequel to The Long Earth, which was excellent, and it’s proving to also be excellent so far.

    One book I recommend to absolutely everyone is Ursula LeGuin’s The Dispossessed. It changed my life.

  34. Carrie in Scotland*

    Recommendations: (sorry can’t pick just one but will keep it to a select few!) The Crimson Petal & the White – set in Victorian era England, it revolves around a damaged “society” wife and Sugar who is a “lady of the night” as it were and the man who brings them together. Also a very good BBC 4 part adaptation of it available.
    The Thirteenth Tale – reclusive novelist finally wants to tell her life story. Another one recently adapted for the BBC.
    Tully/Bronze Horseman series – Tully is a coming of age novel from the 1970’s onwards about a group of friends, Bronze Horseman series (but not the prequels) – epic love story during WW2 set in America and Russia.
    Also, Watch over Me set in Scottish Highlands, I capture the Castle, The Blind Assassin, Any Human Heart (TV adaption available) and – finally! – Wife 22.

  35. In progress*

    Ramadan Mubarak!

    I’m reading a huge stack of cookbooks (focusing on the science of cooking). Totally unrelated, but I’d recommend A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson.

  36. Rebecca*

    I’m currently reading Infinite Jest. I’m not a slow reader but it is taking me forever! I’m probably about 350 pages in. It’s pretty dense and there is a lot going on, I keep having to go back a few pages every time I pick it up again to remind myself what is happening. And I’m still not sure how this huge cast of characters is going to come together. My sister (who has her doctorate in literary studies and is a college professor) said she can’t believe I’m reading it for “fun.” Has anyone else read it? Thoughts?

    The second question is tough! My first instinct is To Kill a Mockingbird so I’m going to go with that.

    1. salad fingers*

      I read this when I was 18/19 and had a lot more time on my hands than I do now, also for fun. I don’t really have much advice except to stick with it, as it’s a really really really good book. Also, depending on your disposition, maybe don’t read it in public. I spent a lot of time crying on busses, cafes and parks, caught off guard by a particularly rough part of Infinite Jest, especially the further in I got. My boyfriend had the same experience.

      Oh, actually, one real piece of advice — there was a big reading group in 2009 or 10 called Infinite Summer dedicated to reading the book. There’s a lot of neat commentary from writers, academics, regular joe blow bloggers/readers that was scheduled as the group finished each portion of the book. Might be something to check out as you go along.

      Oh, another thing that might be obvious is that you don’t need to absorb every clever bit of writing DFW packs into the book. That is pretty much impossible for a casual reader. EG: I kinda napped through a some of the longer film reference bits as I didn’t have the basic knowledge of film at 18 that is necessary to get all of the in jokes (still don’t I’m sure) but I nonetheless loved the hell out of the book.

      Ugh, and now rereading your comment, the last thing I’ll say is that I had the same reading back, sort of confused thing going on for the first couple hundred pages too. I think that’s common. It will eventually speed up (and then be over too fast) so I wouldn’t worry too much about it, frustrating as it may be.

      ENJOY! Please come back in the future with your thoughts!

      1. Rebecca*

        Thanks for your thoughts! I’ll Google Infinite Summer, that sounds really interesting and might be helpful!

        Everyone I know who has read it says they loved it, so that’s why I’ve stuck with it. Plus, if I put it down with the intention of trying again later, I’m afraid I’d have to start all over again! I’m not disliking it, just easily confused. Glad to know that gets better!

        Yes, I love talking books so I will report back in one of the open threads… who knows how long that will be, though! ;)

  37. nep*

    Reading Black Lamb and Grey Falcon by Rebecca West. Astounding.

    Read last year and will certainly re-read: Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell. What a book.

    Has anyone read River Town or Oracle Bones by Peter Hessler? Lovely writing and a brilliant glimpse at life in parts of China.

  38. Sandrine (France)*

    Can’t help it: started “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” again yesterday. I’ll take my sweet time reading it though, because I tend to read so fast I’ve realized I may miss smaller details, which isn’t good.

    I’ll probably go hunt my Stephen Clarke books again after this (A year in the Merde, and sequels and all) . His books are really good if you want to poke fun at me and “my people” :P .

    1. Jen RO*

      I enjoyed Stephen Clarke’s books a lot! For more France-related books, last year I read A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle, while actually *in* Provence. Not a masterpiece, but it was a good holiday book. (And wow Provence is gorgeous! I wasn’t really expecting to like it so much.)

      1. Trixie*

        I loved Frances Mayes’ Under the Tuscan Sun which is not to be confused with the movie. Between the traveling, house renovating and cooking, I was hooked.

  39. Polkadot (Ger)*

    Anyone got awesome dealing-with-depression tips for me? I’ve been feeling less than good recently and while I hope ny meds will help soon, I would really appreciate any help for dealing with the day-to-day stuff <3

    1. Rayner*

      Make a plan to do something everyday – not just work, but essential life activities. Cashing paychecks, grocery shopping, opening mail, that kind of thing. It’s so easy to let it build up and then it’s so big you don’t want to deal with it. One thing, per day, that means it’s just that thing. If it’s a big thing, like it requires you to make several phone calls, schedule a time block for it, as though you were at work.

      Make a list of important activities at work, and do the same thing – make one day a ‘paperwork day’ or a morning, for example, or set 2-4 pm every day as a “let’s chase people up” on their projects period. Let your manager know if you feel they’ll be helpful to you. They can help you break down tasks into smaller bits or assign you projects that are important but not OMG PRESSURE RIGHT NOW DO IT OR SOMETHING BAD WILL HAPPEN. I found those ones were horrific because I felt so low, didn’t work, and then the deadlines caught up with me and uuuuurgh.


      Focus on having good, easy meals on hand that you know how to cook. Slow cooker, or just easy food in the cupboard like pasta and sauce. Not eating or eating easy, comfort food is a big one that got me – you just don’t feel interested in cooking which leads to bad eating choices, and then I felt even WORSE. But having it there, in the cupboard, meant I knew I could make a dinner in ten minutes and it would be reasonably healthy.

      Better than a box of cookies, at least.

      Speak to a counseling service or a good friend about how you feel – just a short five minute chat to reach out into the world a few times a week keeps you interacting with the ‘real world’ rather than withdrawing. Let them call you – it’s easy to disappear and not want to reach out but it’s easier to let other people reach in to you when you feel low and antisocial.

      Hope it gets better soon.


    2. NW Cat Lady*

      Find something that you enjoy doing and then go do it. It sounds really simplistic, but I’ve had issues with depression most of my life, and it’s really easy for me to hole up in my house and not do anything, which makes it worse.

      Go outside, get a cup of coffee, see a movie, read a book, have lunch with friends.

      I was out of work for a very long time, and the only thing that kept me from spiraling into complete depression was volunteering at a local shelter (I’d already been doing it, but I ended up spending a lot more time there).

      Hang in there. You’re not alone, and I promise, it will get better.

    3. nep*

      What are you eating? Are you drinking plenty of water? Are you able to sleep well?

      Different things help different people. You will find what will help you — that is sure.
      Often it’s quite helpful to put yourself in a position where you’re helping another being — volunteering, taking care of an animal…something along those lines. Or perhaps you already do that?
      Wishing you all the best — you will overcome this.

    4. Zelda*

      I’m someone who likes to-do lists, so I’ve found that HabitRPG (habitrpg dot com) is very helpful with re to making sure I do “normal” things when depression is rearing its not-too-pleasant head. A daily checklist of simple things, like taking a shower, saying hello to someone, or washing dishes, really helps me from spiraling down too much, though YMMV of course. Plus, checking things off my list helps me defeat monsters! :)

      1. Jamie*

        Second time this week I’ve read this recommended – the other was on an ADHD forum. I’ve heard nothing but good things.

        1. Zelda*

          It’s the only daily task app that has worked for me! But I’m a huge gaming dork. The little incentives, like buying a wicked sword and cat ears for my character with the gold I earn, make it feel like I’m doing something more than just checking items off a list.

          1. Jamie*

            I just downloaded it – I don’t think I’m going to use the reward section but I like that it’s got seperate task and habit sections.

            I haven’t drilled into it yet, but need to see if to-do or task list has cascading items.

            Eg my cleaning task list has a section for tasks (like windows, sweeping, dusting, etc) and then sub sections listing the rooms individually so I can check off each as done and the task itself when all complete.

            Ditto other to do where the room is the “parent” task and then the sub tasks the individual things not included on the general house list as they only apply to those rooms. Eg kitchen the main task and subtasks being stove, fridge, pantry, etc.

            Right now I have it in excel and print off for each day and use highlighter to indicate complete – so hoping I can do my ‘parent/child’ tasks the same way in this.

            No, I’m not weirdly regimented at all, why do you ask? :)

            1. Zelda*

              For the Dailies and To-Do’s, you can add a checklist. S0 you can have a To-Do called “Clean kitchen”, and then a checklist that includes “1. Stove, 2. Fridge, 3. Pantry, etc”.

              You can join groups and meet people, although I haven’t yet. I joined at a pretty low moment in my life and was just trying to get a grip on things again. I keep telling myself that I need to meet people but never seem to get around to it.

              You can create and participate in challenges, which will add challenge-related tasks to your profile. I learned about pixel art by doing that, and that’s also how I got some of the depression-related tasks too.

            2. Graythan*

              Can I borrow your spreadsheet, Jamie? Ha! That sounds rather like the chore lists I make, though I usually do them on paper. I keep trying to transition to some type of online task manager, but there’s something about writing the list longhand that works for me. At least, until the list is half complete and it’s a new day and I have to write it over again because the old one is messy or the order doesn’t work anymore or…

    5. Elizabeth West*

      On non-work days, try to get up at the same time and get dressed. Actually dressed, not just in fresh PJs. It’s so easy to just not do it and feel schlumpy and veg and brood. And try to get out of the house a bit, even if it’s just to go to the store.

      1. Trixie*

        I also like to make the bed every day. Simple two-minute task that helps get the day off to a good start. Plus I don’t think there’s anything more lovely or relaxing than coming home to an already-made bed.

    6. Sophia*

      Leave the house and shower everyday. Give more structure to your life, even if it’s, I’ll still and try to do X at Starbucks for two hours

    7. Stephanie*

      If you’re not doing so already, avoid alcohol. It’s a major depressant and it takes a while for the residual effects to get out your system.

    8. Loose Seal*

      Best blog post ever on this subject:

      Even though it’s written to answer someone who is searching for help with depression while trying to hold down a job, I find it useful even if one isn’t working (and I don’t know if you are or not but it’s a good read either way). It also might be worth searching the Captain Awkward site for more suggestions dealing with the day-to-day stuff and how to explain to others how you’re feeling.

    9. Trixie*

      I’m not sure this would help with depression but I find this useful for stress or anxiety. A few years ago when I was feeling overwhelmed by debt, it became pretty much all I thought about. Regardless of how many times I worked the numbers out on paper, they pretty much came out the same. Eventually I decided to limit how much time i spent worrying about it. Spending more time on it was not really going to make a difference. I probably gave myself something like 15-60 minutes a day to obsess, overanalyze and generally freak out before trying to move on mentally to something and anything else.

      I wish you the best and hope things pick up before long. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be but really impressed with how proactive you are.

  40. Henrietta Gondorf*

    The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker is one of the most incredible stories I’ve read in ages. It weaves together Jewish and Arab mythology following a Golem and a Jinni through Manhattan around 1900., specifically dealing with the Jewish and Syrian communities. Even if fantasy type characters are not your thing, this book is a work of art.

    I also cheerfully recommend The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde pretty widely.

    1. Algae*

      Both of those are great books. Did you hear there’s a sequel to The Golem and the Jinni coming soon?

      1. Henrietta Gondorf*

        No! But I am delighted to hear that. When I read that it took Helene Wecker 7 years to write the Golem
        And the Jinni, my first though was “Nooooo! I can’t wait another 7 years for the next one!”

  41. Blergh*

    I’m reading The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling). I liked the first in the series and the second is an unputdownable so far.

    For fans of dogs and mysteries, I recommend the Spencer Quinn Chet and Bernie series. I actually recommend the audiobooks because the narrator brings Chet the dog to life so well.

  42. Kmc*

    Books – just finished Urban Shaman by C.E. Murphy. A really good end to a good series.

    Anyone have suggestions on where to get borderline plus size suits with dresses/skirts ? (Fuller skirts, not pencil skirts?) we’re acquiring some new locations in August, & I need to visit them. I probably need to wear a suit, & I don’t think I have one! Our office is pretty business casual most of the time, so I wear skirts & blouses, but not full suits.

    1. C Average*

      Sorry, no good advice to offer here, but just wanted to share an interesting factoid I picked up somewhere (maybe one of the Slate podcasts?) recently.

      I learned that pencil skirts were introduced during war rationing. They’re cheap to make because, unlike A-line and other fuller styles, they’re not cut on the bias. They remain cheap to make, so they’re a more profitable style for clothing manufacturers.

      I’ve always hated the way they look and feel on me. (I’m short and curvy and look just awful in them.) I hate them even more knowing that they represent a way for clothing manufacturers to squeeze a few more bucks out of gullible fashion victims by telling us pencil skirts are in style.

      I wonder if the same is true of skinny jeans, which I also loathe . . .

      1. Loose Seal*

        The end of war rationing was the reason that poodle skirts became so popular. After years of wearing clothes that used the least fabric, people were desperate to wear something big and fluffy.

    2. Pussyfooter*

      Hi Kmc,

      I’m a weird size: 16W bottom, 18 regular top.
      I live in the phoenix metro area and the *only* off-the-rack suit I found to fit me in a 3 month search was at Dillard’s–specifically the biggest one in town, over at Fashion Square Mall. (It was a pant suit, but I didn’t want a skirt for this outfit. I find skirts easier to fit than pants, so maybe…)

      The designer brand was NYGARD.

      Hope this saves you time.

  43. NewDoc*

    Just finished the Goldfinch by Donna Tartt and I thought it was excellent, I love the details in her writing, and she hasn’t had a new book out for a long time so I was excited.

    I have so many favorites it’s hard to choose, but The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a great vacation read — it’s an epistolary novel set in post-WW2 England with a lot about the German occupation of the Channel Islands but also just generally charming with delightful characters.

    1. Mallory*

      The Goldfinch is on my reading list, but I haven’t read it yet. I did read The Little Friend by Donna Tartt. It’s about a girl who decides to investigate the disappearance, years ago, of her older brother. The parts where she starts snooping around the local meth-head guys while they’re on a days-long tweak are nerve-wracking!

    2. Elkay*

      I’ve got a long plane journey coming up so I’m saving The Goldfinch for that. I loved The Secret History but didn’t enjoy The Little Friend at all.

      1. Deedee*

        I loved “The Goldfinch” up to a certain point, but then I found it too stressful to read. I left it for a while but it haunted me so I went back and kind of skim-read the rest of the book. I think the first half of the book was amazing, but didn’t enjoy it so much after that. I still think it is an excellent book, but I don’t do suspense or scary very well.

    3. Raupe*

      I immediately thought of “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” when reading the thread topic, but could not remember the title exactly!
      For me, this was a total surprise find in my parents’ bookshelves and I devoured it in no more than three sittings in a week-end at home.

      1. Nancypie*

        I have been dying to talk about the Goldfinch with someone! I loved the early premise but then didn’t really like it. Especially the vert, very long Vegas part. I also didn’t like the Secret History, though, so perhaps the author just isn’t for me.

  44. Vancouver Reader*

    Currently reading “Wishing Spell” by Chris Colfer, which according to their write up is “Through the mysterious powers of a cherished book of stories, twins Alex and Conner leave their world behind and find themselves in a foreign land full of wonder and magic where they come face-to-face with the fairy tale characters they grew up reading about”

    Can I use this to promote a couple of short anthologies that my sister is a part of? “Out of Time: Five Tales of Time Travel” and “In a Land Far Away… A Collection of Enchanted Tales”. They’re both available on Amazon and all proceeds from the book sales goes to Doctors without Borders.

  45. Rebecca*

    I’m reading the Wool books on my Kindle by Hugh Howey. I read book #1, Wool, and now I’m about to start Proper Gauge.

  46. sad today*

    So I just went to another wedding yesterday. While it was fun, I was reminded that at 32, I am no closer to getting married. I’ve been with my boyfriend for a year and a half, but I’m sure if he is “the one” and frankly, I’m not sure if I’m the one for him either. He is a great guy that treats me well but our work lifestyles are totally different.

    In the back of my mind, there is a little voice that says I will never get married or have kids and that is just so sad to me. And then I hear comments like,”if I didn’t get married by age 30, I knew I would never get married – I turn 31 next month so I just made it!” (What the bride said yesterday.

      1. nep*

        Is there something in particular that has you down about not being married yet, or is it primarily these societal ‘conventions’? Often we let conventions or conditioning get to us, when really we are OK and not lacking anything.

        1. Sad Today*

          I personally want to be married because I want children and I want someone to grow old with/life partner. I am pretty old-fashioned and don’t want to have children out of wedlock or adopt as a single mom. (Note: I believe everyone has their own value system and I pass no judgment on others who choose to do things differently than I want to.)

          I deeply care about my boyfriend and can see us growing old together – I just don’t know if our lifestyles are too different and don’t know if we want some of the same things in life. For example, we both want kids. On the other hand, his job involves a lot of weekend work and mine is more 9 to 5 – I don’t want to have constantly be the one to always take the kids to soccer practice every weekend, or not take a vacation like a normal family because of his crazy work schedule.

          1. nep*

            I see. Makes sense. Perhaps I was not clear in my question — I was focusing more on the ‘yet’ part. Is there something in particular that has you down about not being married by a certain age? I was thinking that this might have been the aspect driven more by some kind of convention. The right age for you is the age you are when it happens.
            I completely get what you’re saying about wanting to be married and have children.
            All the best to you.

          2. nep*

            (OK — reading through again…perhaps it’s the ‘biological clock’ and not wanting to start having kids late-ish in your child-bearing years. I see.)

    1. C Average*

      I swear I was you. In my late 20s, I was with the same guy for 3+ years. Great guy. We attended plenty of our friends’ weddings together, got plenty of questions about when it would be our turn. Even discussed marriage. I had doubts, but figured everybody has doubts, and that he’d be a great husband. I felt a certain amount of time pressure, too. I didn’t especially want kids, but I knew if I was going to have them, I’d better do it sooner than later.

      I thank my lucky stars every day I did not marry that guy. He was a really good guy and I think we could’ve made a successful go of marriage, but he was in no way my kindred spirit. We had lots of long silences, lots of conversations we avoided having because we didn’t communicate comfortably. The guy I married (at 37) had two kids from a previous marriage, so there was no need to worry about kids. And he’s truly my soul mate. There are things that are hard about being a later-in-life stepmom, but I have never for one second thought I married the wrong guy. I’m pretty sure I would’ve had thoughts like that if I’d married my late 20s boyfriend just to hit that married-by-30 self-inflicted deadline.

    2. LD*

      I got married for the first (and hopefully only time) at age 41. It’s really never too late. And it’s important to do it because you love and care about the individual, not the institution.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Marriage is a part of life but not all of life. Those people are speaking to you as if marriage is a destination, you can kick back and relax once you arrive. Uh. No.
      Marriage is something you work at every day. Additionally, you still worry about money, car repair, heat bills, doctor appointments, employment, current job- the list is endless, as you already know. Marriage is a journey with someone else while you still pursue your own life (career, family/friends, activities, hobbies- all that stuff still keeps happening regardless of your marital status.)

      Not real sure about that bride’s remark yesterday. I don’t want to say too much. So in short- don’t listen to her. Her sayings apply to her life and reflect how she has decided to live her life. These sayings do not apply to your life. Don’t replay her words in your head. It will not help you and it may actually hurt you.

      When you do finally pick a partner for life, pick someone who can do the long hikes over both the rough trails and the smooth trails. And be that person who can do the rough trails as well as the smooth trails. You’ll be okay.

      Just my opinion, though.

      1. Pussyfooter*

        I like your opinion :)

        I just read a short online article last night: “What Means to Be Loving” by Lisa Firestone, which was good advice/news to me and relates to what you’re saying.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I had to google.
          “…. Dr. George Vaillant, wrote of his team’s findings, there are two essential ingredients proven to correlate with a happy existence: ‘One is love. The other is finding a way of coping with life that does not push love away’.”

          [from the article by Lisa Firestone]

          Bingo. Nailed it.
          We push love away routinely and never even notice.

          A local family had a huge tragedy. I cannot go into detail. Offers of help came pouring in from all angles. They said NO. Sure, they preserved their pride/privacy/dignity and many other illusions but they said no to love, also. An extreme example, but it does help to show what Firestone is saying.
          This has all been very sad for me to watch. Anyone reading- heaven forbid you have something happen to you. But if you do and people offer to help say yes, damn it. Just say yes.

      2. Sad Today*

        Your trail analogy is so good – you really have a way with words.

        I’m not defending the bride, but I’m guessing she said what she did because she really believed she wouldn’t get married. She has multiple children out of wedlock and hasn’t had a great track record with men. I know she felt like the odds were stacked against her in a lot of ways. I’m personally happy she found a really loving men who love her children as well.

        I guess for me, I feel like I have my stuff together and it intimidates a lot of men my age. I know in my heart though that I won’t intimidate the “right one” and I hang on to that.

    4. Student*

      Look. You need to figure out what is important to you, and put effort into that. I’m a stranger on the internet, so I don’t care what, specifically, is important to you.

      Why do you want to get married? Why do you want to have kids? Do you want those things enough to start making some sacrifices? Do you want both of those things, or one more than the other? Enough to change up your life significantly? If so, then get out there and start making that a priority. If not, then try to focus on the things that are important to you in your life right now, and try to identify why those things are more important than marriage or children.

      There is no right or wrong answer here, except to regret the things you wanted but never tried for. If you like your career, or some other aspect of your life, and don’t want to give it up to spend more time husband-hunting or preparing for children (or both), then that’s great. Own it.

      If you’re just cruising along doing stuff that’s not important to you, waiting for a husband to show up and a baby to appear, then get off your duff, dump the boyfriend that you’re ambivalent about, and try to get the things you say you want.

  47. BRR*

    Anybody else read the divergent series?

    I was kind of disappointed although they were really cheap to buy. I haven’t seen the movie yet but I imagine it actually played out better on screen. With Allegiant I also grew tired of it alternating the narration.

    1. EduStudent*

      I haven’t finished the series, just read the first two, but I have enjoyed them so far. I liked the movie a lot (bonus points for casting Tony Goldwyn from Scandal, though it was weird seeing POTUS play a ‘regular guy’), but they had to leave a ton of stuff out, which dampened my enthusiasm for it a bit. The plot just seemed less complex on-screen, and while I know this is by no means exclusive to Divergent, I was hoping for a bit more of the details to come through. But I still really enjoyed the movie and the books I’ve read – Allegiant is on the to-read list, eventually.

    2. Felicia*

      I hated the ending of the third one, and I have no idea how they can make that a movie meant for teens. It was a bit better on screen actually :) The third one isn’t even because it’s sad , it’s also imo poorly written, the characters all kind of sound the same, there are a couple of parts that don’t make as much sense as they could , and a lot of parts seemed kind of like rushed filler. Like they are building towards explaining all this stuff since the first book, then by the third they rush through some vague stuff that doesn’t explain anything and then introduce another “mystery” type thing that I thought was silly

      1. BRR*

        I can’t really add anything I think you hit the nail right on the head.

        As a side not I like the open thread being themed. Maybe do other themed ones in the futures such as cooking or travel.

      2. Mints*

        Yes, all of this.
        The first book is rushed because it’s action packed, and it makes sense that things are moving quickly. I enjoyed the first book, because even though it wasn’t particularly well written, it was a fun ride. But it’s all build up, and I think she writes, like plot accumulation well (does that make sense?) But nothing is resolved well. The ending DOES NOT MAKE SENSE. The [spoiler] is completely out of character. I felt like the author wanted to be different from other YA books, so she wrote [spoiler] to shock fans, but I don’t think it makes sense at all

    3. Anon for this*

      To be honest I really didn’t like them, even though I usually love YA and dystopia. I think they’re not really dystopian the way, say, the Hunger Games is–there’s no criticism of society, and honestly the world-building makes no sense if you think about it. I also thought the writing was poor and I disliked the main character.

      Some YA books I do recommend–anything by Sarah Rees Brennan or Melinda Lo.

      1. Felicia*

        I love Melinda Lo! The non -white and non-straight characters she has is nice to see along with the brilliant story telling. I really liked Adaptation

    4. Noah*

      I read them after seeing the movie. I enjoyed the first book, the second one was ok, and hated the third one. It all just kinda fell apart towards the end for me.

    5. Mints*

      Also this scathing review is very funny:

      If you liked Hunger Games but thought it needed more rules, you’re going to love Divergent!

      The debut novel from Veronica Roth, Divergent imagines a future after a great war. The only way to restore peace is to divide humanity up into 5 Death Frats named after SAT words. People join them by having only one personality trait: brave people join Dauntless where they jump off trains and punch each other. Smart people join Erudite where they wear glasses. Amish people join Abnegation where they don’t eat hamburgers. And the other two are both Hufflepuff.

      In the EXTREMELY RARE situation where somebody has two personality traits (“I have glasses AND don’t eat hamburgers!” -or- “I play baseball AND football”) they are “divergent” (a Latin word meaning “too cool for school”).

      “But wait,” you say. “How do they figure out which frat to join?” I’m glad you asked. Pledge week in Dystopian Chicago consists of a hallucination where you have to choose between a knife and cheese with no other instructions. Then a dog attacks you. If you choose the knife, you are Dauntless. If you choose the cheese, you’re not. Isn’t that cool? That’s all it takes. You either want a knife or you want cheese, and that decision confines you to a single Death Frat for the rest of your life. That’s their NEARLY FOOLPROOF system. Knife or cheese. Maybe I’m not Divergent, I’m just lactose intolerant!

      Eventually the smart people use the brave people to kill the Amish people and only a teenage girl with two different interests can save them all. With her boyfriend. And something about a hard drive that controls humanity (presumably connecting via USB 27.0).

      Anyway, it doesn’t make much sense but expect a million more books about dystopian futures where kids kill each other, because Hunger Games sold faster than a grey tunic in an Abnegation camp.

  48. Liane*

    Just Finished (within the past month. I read my way through lunch hours, and any other time I can find):
    The Dogs of War, by Lisa Rogak, nonfiction, about military working dogs. Very good.
    Skin Game, by Jim Butcher, the latest, and one of my favorites, in the Dresden Files urban fantasy series. Wonderful series, but you need to start with the first, Storm Front, because these aren’t standalone novels.
    Night Broken, the latest in Patricia Briggs’ urban fantasy Mercy Thompson series. Great book. I can’t think of any of her novels I haven’t enjoyed and this series I love.

    Currently reading:
    Editing/proofreading a roleplay game module (pre-made adventure) for a friend who does freelance game design as a hobby/side job. I’m getting credited in the final product (Friend is great about that!). Plus I’m seeing it before anyone else! :D

    1. Sophia*

      Love the Dresden Files and Skin Game was good. But the previous two books? Not a fan. Plus I’m still angry I bought the Thomas book for my husband a few years ago and it was basically buying a short story for the price of a full book. Grr….

      1. Loose Seal*

        Really? ‘Cause I thought Cold Days was the best one so far and that Skin Game didn’t get quite up to that level. But on the whole, I love those books.

        Have you read the Alera series by Jim Butcher? It’s super good, as well.

        1. Sophia*

          I though Ghost Story was awful. I read all but the last of the Alera books. I thought they were ok – super predictable, but ok

    2. 22dncr*

      Love, love Briggs! I think my fav was The Hobb’s Bargain. Early Jane Lindskold is very similar – just not her Wolf series ones though they were good in the beginning.

      1. Sophia*

        I love Mercy! I also love the women of the underworld series…the author’s name is escaping me right now. I really love the Magic Rises series. It’s about a world where there are waves of magic that disrupt everything. Kate Daniels is the main character

    3. Mints*

      Yay Mercy Thompson! I’ve read three of those, and am happy to be getting off the waitlist for the next one. I really enjoyed them

      Although, I think it was TL, who said she ended up not liking the books because the lack of female characters. (I saw that comment but forgot to reply). And while I still enjoy the series, I definitely get a “I’m not like other girls” vibe from Mercy occasionally which I dislike. But I’m still reading it, and I’m glad there are at least a few female characters

    4. chewbecca*

      I know this is from yesterday, but I have to comment. Both my brother and my dad read the Dresden Files out of order, and it still drives me crazy. How the hell did they know what was going on?

  49. Is_it_Legal*

    I recently accepted a new job with a very good company. I received a lot of congratulatory messages along the lines, “can you connect me with the the recruiter who hired you, oh and do they have any openings?” This is almost the same message I’m receiving, is this normal? I feel some kind of way…

  50. fluffy*

    Reading Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon for book club, whose members loved it. We tallked yesterday about how book club has given us good reads we would never have picked up. East of eden. Two years before the mast. Cannery row. Jane eyre. Here’s a big shout out for the reader of Lois McMasters Bujold,always a memorable writer

  51. EduStudent*

    Apologies if someone else mentioned this book already, as I haven’t finished reading all the posts, but I just finished and would very much recommend The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling’s pseudonym). It’s a mystery, and if you think back to Harry Potter’s Triwizard Tournament, Rowling knows how to write mysteries! It is a bit on the long side, which is kind of par for the course for her, but it was only in retrospect that I said ‘Wow, this book is long and the mystery takes a million pages to solve!’ While reading it, I gobbled it up and enjoyed each new development, I think partly because she doesn’t jerk you around from insane plot twist to another insane plot twist (like if Gone Girl was 600 pages, those plot twists might’ve been annoying rather than mindblowing. Cuckoo’s Calling is 450, not 600).

    Anyway, I’ve requested the next book in the series, The Silkworm, from my library, but there are currently 4x as many requests as copies of the book, so it’ll be a while :P

    1. bassclefchick*

      I’ve been afraid of starting The Cuckoo’s Calling because I couldn’t finish The Casual Vacancy. I didn’t care about ANY of the characters in Vacancy and I just did not like the narrative. Is Cuckoo’s Calling better do you think?

      1. EduStudent*

        I haven’t read The Casual Vacancy. It’s on my list, but based on reviews/previews I think The Cuckoo’s Calling is more my style.

      2. CollegeAdmin*

        I could not get through The Casual Vacancy either, but I did read The Cuckoo’s Calling. I’m not going to say it’s a must-read, but if you’re a fan of mysteries, it’s pretty good.

        1. Felicia*

          I couldn’t get through the Casual Vacancy either. There were parts of it that I really enjoyed that I thought were good, but then it just dragged on and on with teh less interesting part. I think if it had been half the length it could have been good

      3. Mints*

        Casual Vacancy doesn’t really have much plot. I enjoyed it, but it’s more character driven, and there are many perspectives which can be hard to follow
        However, I love Rowling’s mysteries (there is a lot of mystery in the Harry Potter series). I think she does an excellent excellent job, in a typical whodunnit plot

  52. Jamie*

    Anyone out there driving a Challenger? Do you love it?

    I’m absolutely not getting a new car, but it doesn’t hurt to look. Just made the last payment on DHs SUV so were sans car payments for the first time in a while and I want to stay that way for a long time.

    But if I passed my Mustang down to the kids I wouldn’t have to share and that’s appealing.

    I keep thinking my next vehicle will be my grown up car and I’ll be all sedate and mature as is fitting a woman of a certain age. But I loved my Grand National and I love my my Mustang. I just think I look better in a muscle car, which is as ridiculous as it sounds.

    Rear wheel drive isn’t an issue – I’m always RWD. If we do this DH will want the V8 but I’ll fight for the V6 since for me it’s about looks not performance and speed.

    Someone please tell me you drive one and hate it because it’s literally the only car out there I like and if I can stop thinking about this one I can enjoy the whole no car payment thing for a couple more years.

    Black. Talk me out of a black one.

    1. Rebecca*

      I think that’s the car my office mate bought – a black Challenger. She loves it! Sorry I can’t talk you out of it…

    2. RR*

      When my old car was totaled, my insurance company covered a rental for while — the insurance co’s rental co provided a challenger. HATED it – it handled poorly, poor visibility, and got rotten gas mileage to boot. Also, black cars paradoxically enough, tend to show the dirt more.

      1. Stephanie*

        Oh, my black car is a nightmare to keep clean in the desert. It’s always got a fine shade of dust on it. Back on the East Coast, it looked horrible during pollen season and winter (from the salt on the roads). I will probably opt for steel gray next time–that hides dirt pretty well.

        1. Jamie*

          I loved my black GN – I know they are more work to keep clean but when polished to a high gloss I love the look of a black car.

          1. Stephanie*

            Yup, that’s what sucked me in when I bought it. The black car just looked so sleek compared to the gray. But now it just looks like crap 80% of the time.

    3. CollegeAdmin*

      I can’t speak to a Challenger, specifically – my father had Opinions with a capital O about makes I could look at when I was car-shopping. However, I went from a Grand Am (loved, loved, loved that car) to a Mazda 3. While I don’t dislike the Mazda, it’s not “fun” to me like the Grand Am was – it looks like a lot of other 4-door sedans. If you want a fun car, go for it! Forget the notion of the kind of car you’re “supposed to” have and get what makes you happy.

      1. Rebecca*

        I wish I could drive a mid 70’s Pontiac Firebird or Trans Am, all the time! I could kick myself over and over for getting rid of my 1975 Firebird when my daughter was born because it wasn’t child friendly. Now I wish I would have stored it until she was older. Sighs.

        1. Jamie*

          I idolized one of my older sisters when I was little – she married when I was 8-9 to the coolest guy every (still is – some people are perfect for each other) and when they first married they had new black trans am (his) and white Firebird (hers.)

          Seriously this was the late 70s and it was the coolest thing ever.

        2. Relosa*

          my best friend’s mom still has her Trans Am she got for her 21st birthday. You would never, ever guess she owned it. Ever. So awesome when she takes it out. She just turned 65.

      2. Noah*

        That’s funny because I just bought a Mazda 3 to supplement my Jeep because it was fun to drive compared to the likes of a Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla and gets reasonable gas mileage. Although I have the hatchback version.

        I still drive the Jeep several days a week though, because it really is the car I had always wanted.

    4. Windchime*

      A cute guy at work drives a black one and it’s a gorgeous car. Hot and gorgeous.

      There. Did that work to talk you out of it?

  53. Canadamber*

    So I ordered something and I’m really impatient for it to get here! xD; Unfortunately, it’s been sitting at the border since the wee hours of Saturday. I guess things don’t move or ship on business days, but it’s scheduled to get to my place on Wednesday and is currently listed as “In Transit: On Time” so I guess it’ll move on Monday.

      1. Canadamber*

        Ugh, I know! Right? :) It’s been something I’ve been waiting to get for close to a year now, if not at least a year, so I am *really really really* impatient. xD;

    1. Noah*

      Haha, that’s the worst part about ordering things. I want them now! Even when Amazon delivers them the next day I’m still impatient for them to arrive.

  54. Diet Coke Addict*

    Here’s a book-related question: What’s a book that you would recommend people NOT read or avoid at all costs, that you could not stand?

    I picked up The Witch of Cologne in an airport bookstore and found it so boring and bad I left it on in the plane’s seat pocket in hopes someone else would find it better. Same with Edward Rutherford’s Russka, which I believe I abandoned halfway through and returned to the library with a bookmark still in it.

    What else goes on your “don’t read this” list?

    1. Felicia*

      I don’t like saying “don’t ever read this” because everyone has different tastes, but one book I really wanted to love but didn’t was “A Lion Among Men” by Gregory Maguire. I loved Wicked and Son of A Witch so I assumed I’d like that one but I couldn’t get through it.

      Also Allegiant , which is the 3rd in the Divergent series. I loved Divergent and liked Insurgent and then the 3rd one is just not ok. It’s like the author never really knew what she was going towards in the end, so just threw something together. And the switching POVs, is imo poorly done

      1. SherryD*

        I really didn’t like “Wicked.” I know some people that adored that novel, but I found it excruciating. But I guess I’ve never been a big fan of fantasy.

        I also didn’t like “Blindness” by Jose Saramago. I found it extremely dystopic and disturbing and upsetting. But for some people, that’s probably right up their alley.

        I just finished “Divisadero” by Michael Ondaatje. It was OK, but not his best. If you’ve never read Ondaatje (and you should!), start with something else.

        I’m always reluctant to give a book a negative review, because I don’t want to “ruin” a book for someone by pointing out its flaws. Those are 3 that just really didn’t work for me.

    2. Henrietta Gondorf*

      Gone Girl. I know that lots of people enjoyed it, but I find the characters so loathsome that I can’t in good conscience suggest anyone spend time reading about them.

      1. EduStudent*

        I loved the plot twists, but hated the setting. :/ Overall, I enjoyed it, but I sympathize with where you’re coming from because of the issue I had with the setting.

      2. Harriet*

        I’m pretty sure that was the point. You think he’s the terrible person, then you start to think she’s the terrible person, then you’re back to thinking it’s him, then her and then you just realise that they’re both terrible and they deserve each other completely. You kind of have to revel in how repulsive they are.

        1. Mints*

          Yeah, I enjoyed this book, but I definitely did not like the characters. I don’t think that’s a failing of the book; you’re not meant to identify with them. I actually really liked it because of the plot (and like, that plot would not work if you were trying to make the characters relatable. They’re crazypants)

      3. University Allison*

        +1. It’s on my kindle, because it was so recommended. I’ve never finished it.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I used to recommend Robin Cook’s medical thrillers, but the quality of those has gone down so far I just can’t do it anymore. I also tried to read that Rhett Butler’s People book that was Gone with the Wind told from Rhett’s POV, and I finished it, but I just didn’t like it. It went on the donate pile.

      1. Mallory*

        Rhett Butler’s People — that’s a book that made me so mad that I slammed it down hard after reading a particular passage and never picked it back up. It’s been about 20 years, so I don’t remember what it was that made me so mad, but it must also have been boring. Because I slam books down in irritation (at a character or an occurrence) all the time, and when I’m done being huffy I’ll pick them back up.

      2. NW Cat Lady*

        I will never, never, NEVER read any “sequel” to GWtW. I don’t read it as often as I used to, but it’s still my all-time favorite book (and movie). I have something like 9 different copies of it, including a first edition and a copy in Russian.

    4. Keri*

      Night Film by Marisha Pessl. Absolutely horrible. You read the whole book waiting to find out what the what actually happened to this girl who died and then it just ends. You have to decide the ending. I guess for some people that might be intriguing but to me it was just the author not being able to think of an ending. Such a waste of time.

    5. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      … I found myself idly reading my sisters copy of Justine by Marquis de Sade, and boy do I ever wish I hadn’t. I couldn’t put it down, and more or less read the entire thing, but it was something akin to the instinct to watch a train wreck as opposed to enjoyment, and I felt sick to my stomach for weeks. I still do sometimes.

    6. Sabrina*

      The Lost World which was the book sequel to Jurassic Park. JP was great, TLW, no.

      Ordinary People hated it.

      If you read The Vampire Chronicles, I wish I could say to skip Memnoch the Devil, but the rest of the series won’t make sense without it.

      1. NW Cat Lady*

        I would say to just stop after Queen of the Damned. Read the first 3 and call it good.

    7. C Average*

      Middlemarch. So freaking dull. I’ve tried to read it several times, because writers I admire claim it as an influence, but it just bores me absolutely senseless.

      You know how some people have a bucket list of things they want to do before they die? My husband and I maintain something we call a “f*ck-it list” of things we intend to never, ever do.

      Middlemarch is at the top of my literary f*ck-it list.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Faulkner is on mine. People say he’s a genius, and there is one literary device I’m considering (absent characters), but I just cannot get into him.

    8. kas*

      James Patterson’s ‘Women’s Murder Club’ series. I read the first two and couldn’t bring myself to read the rest of the series. Just so unrealistic and I didn’t care for the way they were written.

      1. Questioner*

        I agree. though I have read a lot more then you have. It is just for fluff when you don’t want to expend too much energy but got to admit the last one I read a few years back was ridiculous from character development perspective. Probably will never continue with these.

      2. Kat*

        I feel this way about all of James Patterson’s books. His first couple of books were interesting (still get creeped out if I start thinking about Cradle and All), but by the third book, you can tell everything was just rushed for the profits.

    9. Mints*

      I loved “Children of Men” the movie, and then I read the book and hated it. The main character is so unlikable in the book. In the movie, he’s kind of a wuss, but he grows on me. The book was horrible. Now I’m impressed by whoever read that book and made a respectable screenplay

  55. Oh baby*

    I just lost my baby. It was a surprise pregnancy….After going through this a second time I’m just so so so sick of the judginess from drs and nurses etc and the lectures about my weight and diabetes. I know the dangers but I try hard and, there isn’t a day when I’m not thinking about it.

    1. Henrietta Gondorf*

      I’m so sorry for your loss. I hope your Team You is nearby and wishes for peace and recovery in the journey ahead.

      (And a fist shake at judgey healthcare providers. Bah.)

    2. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      :( I’m sorry! I hope your next go, should you decide to have one, will be more fortuitous!

    3. Former Professional Computer Geek*

      I’m so sorry for your loss.

      I hope I’m not too forward if I recommend reading who says “Because mothers and children come in all shapes and sizes. And because people of all sizes deserve compassionate, gentle, helpful care.”

      Support is out there. Take care.

    4. Deedee*

      So very sorry for your loss and so mad at the medical providers who are making you feel bad when they should be helping you. Take care.

  56. Kat M*

    I’ve been working like crazy towards a deadline, so the only thing I’ve been reading lately is eight million articles on PubMed.

    Recommendation, though?

    Haroun and the Sea of Stories, by Salman Rushdie. It’s hilarious and poetic and will restore your sense of childish wonder. And it’s not long at all, so don’t worry about it sucking up your entire week. :)

  57. Mimmy*

    So we finally finished season 2 of Orange is the New Black last night. I actually went back and re-read the thread from a few Sunday’s ago when it first came out on Netflix. I liked it but it was a little disappointing, particularly the final episode. Someone in the other thread mentioned plot holes, and oh yes, I agree. I find this to be a challenge with shows that have a lot of characters (General Hospital, I’m looking at YOU!). Am I right that there’s a third season in the works? I will definitely still watch when that comes out.

    Has anyone read the book this show is based on? I’m thinking of getting it, but want to see if it’s worth it.

    1. Felicia*

      The show of Orange is the New Black is actually much better than the book, which is one of the few times I say that. Though I guess it depends how you feel about Piper…it’s from her POV, and she doesn’t know nearly as much as the “supporting characters” and they’re the reason why I watch the show. Without all of those backstories it’s not the same. There isn’t nearly as much conflict either, since Piper never goes to the shue or does anything remotely wrong, and her relationship with Larry is fairly conflict free. I guess it depends how you feel about Piper, because the book is really about her while the show is about these women as a whole. And IMO real Piper comes across as less likeable than fictional Piper.

      I really liked Season 2 despite all the plot holes. I loved the exploration of the characters of Poussey and Taystee, and Suzanne, and I found the end satisfying although cheesy and a little silly :)

      1. Jubilance*

        Wow, I actually totally disagree. I only made it through 3 episodes of season 1 because I enjoyed the book so much better than the show. I found the show to have taken too many liberties with the source material and I just couldn’t get into it.

        1. Felicia*

          I think it depends how you feel about Piper, because she was always the least interesting part of the show for me, and she’s what the book’s about essentially . The book couldn’t have that in depth exploration of the other women which is what I love about the show, because real Piper couldn’t know those things. Also when shows follow to closely to the source material for me (like Game of Thrones, at least in season 1 and half of season 2 that I watched), I get bored because I know exactly what will happen.

      2. Noah*

        I totally agree with this, although I read the book after watching season 1, so my expectations going in were very different. Piper really isn’t my favorite character on the show. She is really just there to give me a way into the lives of the other more interesting inmates. YMMV obviously.

    2. Stephanie*

      There is a third season in the works. I’ve read the book. I agree with Felicia’s assessment. If I remember correctly, there are also a lot more of her views on the drug wars and prison’s failure as a rehabilitation tool.

      1. Felicia*

        That’s right! She’s still involved in prison reform and that’s a lot of the book. I just really don’t like Piper and that’s what the book’s about. I think I watch it for the stories of all these diverse women, and I actually liked season 2 because it was less about her.

        They’re currently filming season 3, there have been photos from the set!

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I loved Season 2 and it ended exactly the way I wanted it to. >:D Yes, they’re shooting Season 3 already. Yay! It should be interesting with all the fractured relationships after the events of this last season.

      1. Ali*

        I am in the middle of season 2 (watched three episodes last night) and I’ve accidentally spoiled myself on a few things so I kinda know what’s coming. The season opener was intense, but I thought the second episode was drab and the third one picked up. I mostly watch on weekends b/c I’m really busy during the week, so I’m already looking forward to the coming holiday weekend so I can catch up!

      2. Noah*

        I loved the ending but was surprised that actually wrapped all of that up instead of leaving it as a cliffhanger and waiting to reveal it until next season.

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I really liked the book, but be aware that it’s totally different from the show — in tone and in actual events.

      As a side note, I was hugely annoyed how the author kept mentioning people would spot her and be shocked that someone with her looks was in prison. I’m pretty skeptical that really happened, at least as much as she claimed, and something about the way she kept including it seemed weirdly narcissistic and maybe a little delusional.

      1. Stephanie*

        Ick yeah, I remember that part. I could see it once or twice, but she can’t be the first blonde white lady in prison. C’mon.

        I also disagreed with her assertion that her heroin trafficking was victimless. That really rubbed me the wrong way. I’m all for drug law reform, but it bothered me that she couldn’t see that there are actual victims of that (admittedly, some of the situation is because of the drug laws themselves).

        1. the gold digger*

          Agreed, Stephanie. I think drugs should be legalized, but when something is still illegal, even if you don’t agree with the status, own what you are doing. It’s been a while since I read the book, but if I remember correctly, she was a little, “How could a nice white girl like me end up in prison?”

          Because you broke the law, honey. That’s why.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Sometimes it is. This county has a long history of principled civil disobedience. I’m not saying heroin distribution necessarily falls in that category (although I might argue that, for instance, a medical marijuana clinic serving sick people on their doctors’ advice does), but breaking the law is sometimes the moral thing to do.

              1. the gold digger*

                breaking the law is sometimes the moral thing to do

                Yeah, but when MLK did it, he did it on principle and didn’t wonder why he was in jail.

                This woman didn’t have a principled opposition to drug laws. She just wanted the money. :)

                PS I think all drugs should be legal, even heroin. But I am so involved in that cause that I am willing to go to jail for it, so for now, I stay away from that world.

              2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Yeah, I’m not arguing that Piper was engaged in anything like civil disobedience (she clearly wasn’t), just the general statement that breaking the law isn’t the way to change it.

          1. Felicia*

            That was something that struck me about the book…she made it sound like she just so happened to end up in prison through no fault of her own and it could just happen to anyone. No. She did things that are illegal, she knew that they are illegal, and she did them for money and to an extent because her girlfriend was doing them. She seemed to blame everyone but herself.

        1. Stephanie*

          I’ve followed this story a bit. I will concede that that is a very, very handsome man (although the teardrop tattoo…ick). I wince that people are raising bail for him because he happened to do his best Blue Steel in a mugshot.

      2. Felicia*

        Weirdly narcissistic and a little delusional is teh way real Piper came off to me in pretty much the whole book.

    5. the gold digger*

      I read the book but have not seen the show. I have to admit I didn’t like the protagonist from the very beginning. She was transporting cash for drug dealers. That is illegal.

  58. Keri*

    Currently I am reading The Shining by Stephen King. Very creepy so far, and also very different from the Stanley Kubrick movie.

    1. Diet Coke Addict*

      Follow it up with Doctor Sleep! It wasn’t quite as good as The Shining, but still pleasantly creepy and enjoyable.

      1. Jen RO*

        Dr Sleep was a big disappointment to me. I felt it didn’t have anything to do with The Shining and that connection was just made up to turn a mediocre book into a success. I probably would’ve liked the book better if the main character was a random guy, not Danny.

  59. kelseywanderer*

    I’m currently reading ‘A Fort of Nine Towers’ by Qais Akbar Omar. Aside from just being beautifully written, it does a brilliant job showing how everyday life in Afghanistan goes on, even in the midst of a brutal civil war. Even in the mostly peaceful-ish past decade, what always surprises new visitors to Kabul the most is that it’s just a normal city full of normal people living their normal lives.

    One of my favorite things about this book is the way it gives equal weight and measure to the ups and downs, the beautiful and the tragic, because life is full of both. On a personal note, it also makes me nostalgic for Afghan customs and traditions that I love (I’m not Afghan but I’ve been there twice), while also periodically teaching me new things.

    I highly recommend it!

  60. Satia*

    Just finished: The Curriculum by Stanley Bing

    Currently reading:
    Such Good Girls by R D Rosen
    The Trees in My Forest by Bernd Heinrich
    The Sonnets of William Shakespeare

    Highly Recommend: Bough Down by Karen Green

  61. Wonkette*

    Books- I spent all of last year reading Robert Caro’s books on Pres. Johnson and Robert Moses and can’t recommend his books enough if you’re a history and/or political nerd. I think Mark Leibovich’s book “This Town” is interesting in its portrayal of DC politics, though it’s probably read more by people in the Beltway. Also, anything by David Sedaris makes me laugh, even when I’m in public and get the side eye.

      1. Wonkette*

        Yes! I’m too lazy too be as attached as he is to a fitbit, but it was an amusing essay. What did you think?

    1. Buffet the Vampire Layer*

      Those Caro books on LBJ are absolutely fascinating.

      Not as well written, but worth a look is Nick Kotz’s book Judgment Days. It’s about the interaction between LBJ and MLK during the fight to get the civil rights bills passed.

  62. Mimmy*

    I think the gods are trying to tell me that I shouldn’t do this grad certificate program. It seems like there’s a glitch at every. single. step. First, the Program Director forgets the attachments in her email the other day (though she re-sent with attachments the next day, which I figured she’d do). So, then I try to create my portal account set up so that I can register for classes (I’m only taking one), and it won’t take my information, saying it doesn’t match what’s in their records.

    So I figure…okay, no problem, I’ll just call the HelpDesk, thinking that maybe there’s an easy-to-fix glitch. Nope! I call…first of all, the guy wasn’t getting that I am ALREADY ADMITTED. He couldn’t find me in the system, and suggested I contact Admissions, which I did via email on Friday. So that’s where I stand. I’m just a little worried because the class I was going to register for is essentially an intro class, and the Program Director recommends all new students take it–which will include both certificate and MA students, so if I lose out on a spot, I’m not going to be too happy.


    1. Jamie*

      I don’t know of this will make you feel any better but almost every semester one of my kids has some weird issue like this registering. Logging in doesn’t work, then I call, they either say it’s fine or something else try again and it’s fine but some class throws an error when it shouldn’t so register all others, they go through, do the troublesome class and it’s fine.

      Seriously makes me crazy so I wouldn’t read it as a sign to you, just a sign the schools need a better system.

      1. Mimmy*

        Actually Jamie, that does make me feel a bit better. It’s probably one of those things where the individual program has it together, but the administrative offices are in complete disarray, lol.

        I’ll be doing this online (would much rather go in person, but it’s logistically and financially easier this way), so I’m already anticipating glitches galore and many times where I’ll want to chuck my computer out the window!!

        NYC readers – This is at CUNY–anyone familiar with it? Just curious.

        1. Harriet*

          It sounds like the program you’re enrolling on functions very similarly to the program I work with, so if you want to chat about it let me know and I can give you an email address.

        2. Kat*

          Oh CUNYfirst is notorious for glitches. Without fail, someone in my class gets bumped out for some mysterious reason. Actually happened to my sister twice this year. My school had registration labs and they said could do a paper registration in cases of emergency. That being said, good luck getting through.

    2. Harriet*

      Stuff like this happens all the time. If they are like my university, none of the departments are well connected so it’s really hard to solve any problem that involves more than one of them. Fingers crossed they’ll get their asses into gear for you Monday.

    3. University Allison*

      In my experience, things will get screwed up/confused all the time. Good departments will have experienced staff that you can go to who know the correct person to call to clear up the problem. You mention contacting HelpDesk and getting emails from the Program Director; I’ve always found it to be better to contact Program Director’s Academic Assistant to get my problems solved. ;) Good staff for the win!

  63. Elizabeth West*

    It is SO hard to read the work-only thread and not make comments about how cute the kitties are!

    I just finished reading The Lord of the Rings again (I missed my annual reading over the last couple of years). I wish I had time to re-read Harry Potter before I go to England, but that probably isn’t going to happen. I might watch the films again instead.

    I also finished a really cool book called The Survivors Club: The Secrets and Science That Could Save Your Life, by Ben Sherwood. It was really interesting (and kind of scary!), along with being a bit inspirational. There’s an online quiz in the back to test your survival potential, but I haven’t had time to take it yet. It’s good to know that my paranoid behavior on airplanes (reading the safety card on every flight, counting rows to the exit, leaving my shoes on) is the right thing to do (just in case).

    There probably won’t be much time to read for pleasure in the next couple of months; I need to go full-bore on 1) the bank robber sequel, 2) querying the hell out of Current Book before the end of the summer, and 3) read some stuff about screenwriting and the film industry for a book that is fighting to get out even though I’m not ready to write it yet (because I haven’t decided on a period). But I’m bookmarking this thread for future reference, because people have made a lot of suggestions I want to check out. :)

    I hope someday we do this and someone recommends one of my books. That would make me very happy.

        1. danr*

          After about 20 or 30 or more re-readings, I find that I don’t *have* to read them all. Plus I can skip over the parts that I don’t like. But I still read the ends of 4 and 7 twice.

  64. Kimberlee, Esq.*

    I’m currently reading Packing for Mars, which is awesome, but I’ve been “currently reading” it for like a year so I really just need to get through it!

    The book I recommend everyone read is The Autobiography of Malcolm X, as told to Alex Haley. That book sort of blew my world apart. I obviously still don’t understand the experience of being black in america, but I think I understand it infinitely better than I once did.

  65. Sabrina*

    Just started reading Written in my Heart’s Own Blood by Diana Gabaldon. It’s the latest in the Outlander series. So far I like it and I’m really looking forward to the series coming to TV on Starz in August.

    1. Ms. Anonymity*

      Me too! I’m relishing the book since it will be such a long time before there’s a new one again.

  66. Gene*

    Most recently finished book is “Raising Stream”, the third Moist Von Lipwig book by Terry Pratchett. Currently listening to “A Song of Ice and Fire” , Book 3 by George R R Martin while on my walks and catching up on my backlog of magazines.

    What I would recommend in fiction is any of Pratchett’s Discworld books; depending on the person, if they ask for a particular book, either “Guards, Guards”, ” Equal Rites”, ” or “The Wee Free Men”. For nonfiction, ” Salt ” by Mark Kurlansky or anything by Mary Roach.

    1. Jen RO*

      How is Raising Steam? I haven’t bought it yet, waiting for the ebook price to go down, and Moist isn’t my favorite character… but should I just buy it already? (My faves are the Guard books.)

      1. Daisy*

        I’m trying to read Raising Steam now. I haven’t read all (or most) of Terry Pratchett’s books and this is my first Moist book…I’m having a hard time getting into it.

        1. Henrietta Gondorf*

          Please disregard my comment about terrible characters. That belongs with my thoughts on Gone Girl not Raising Steam.

          I’ve read a ton of the Discworld novels and like Moist primarily because I really enjoy Vetinari. My favorites are the Watch, Tiffany Aching, and The Truth. I’m having a hard time getting into Raising Stream because of how much it jumps around. It’s been said that Pratchett expects this may be the last Discworld novel because of his health situation and he’s trying to wrap things up and bring in a the characters for a last hurrah. That appears to be true. It’s also not as witty as his other ones and the humor seems clunkier.

          1. Gene*

            There’s another Tiffany Aching book in the offing. And his daughter will be taking discworld’s reins when he can’t write anymore. Hope it works out better than Tolkien’s son doing the same.

      2. Henrietta Gondorf*

        I’m sure it’s deliberate, I just don’t care. I’m fine with flawed, complex, contradictory characters. I’m fine with villains. Those characters were wretched in the kinds of ways that I can’t be bothered to care about their fate nor would I want my friends to waste their time reading.

        I think everyone has characters they just can’t stand and these are some of mine.

  67. C Average*

    I know I’m not the only (aspiring) writer here. Does anyone else have a book in the works?

    I have been working on a novel in fits and starts for years. This year I scrapped most of my false starts for a do-over and am trying to be a bit more strategic in my approach to actually getting words on the page. My novel is going to be called “The Dark Night of the Soul Track Club” and it’s about a small-town minister who’s also the high school track coach and an aspiring Olympian himself.

    I’ve also been thinking it would be cool to write a book-length history of advice columns called “It Worked For Me.” I have always been fascinated by advice columns and self-help books. What makes a person decide to write one? Why are they so popular? What makes the good ones good? (I admit that part of the appeal of this project is the idea that I might get to chat with people like Alison and Dan Savage and Emily Yoffe about their craft.)

    Are any of you writing a book on paper or in your head?

    1. Felicia*

      I would LOVE your book on advice columns. I would totally buy it. You should do that. Also the novel that’s in your head:)

      I’m trying to write a book both on paper and in my head, and like you I sort of do it in fits and starts. I think my problem is I have little confidence in my writing and also I get really excited about an idea for a few months, and then I think of something totally different and want to do that. I never finish anything. It does help to try to write something every day (even if one day you just do 5 words), but I’ve only kept that up for a few months

    2. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      I would totally read your book! Love advice columns.

      I actually wrote a whole book in high school, the first of a fantasy series that I have mapped out in my head. I wrote the entire thing by hand, on lined paper edge-to-edge. I gave it to my sister to read over, and she just stuck it in her car and eventually lost it. :(

      Currently, I’m more-or-less working on a book about how to train yourself to like vegetables. :)

    3. Calla*

      I have two books (well, one might be more of a novella or short story more suitable for an anthology) that I work on in bits and pieces very rarely. I used to write a ton more but have kind of sputtered recently. I need to do like Felicia says and commit to writing a certain amount every day.

      I really love the freedom of YA so both would fit under that. One I’m planning is traditional mermaids and parallel realities (that of the mermaids’ and a modern reality) blending into each other–I love the image from siren mythology of a beautiful flowering island that also is covered in rotting flesh of the men they have half-eaten! The other one, that will probably be shorter, is about a village with a legend of a dragon, who the men try to slay and they never return; a daughter goes to investigate, and finds that the dragon is actually a woman with just cause.

    4. Ellie*

      I just sent my memoir into publishers last month, hoping to hear good news back from somebody :)

    5. the gold digger*

      I have written a novel about my in-laws and my wedding, which they threatened to boycott. I started my blog as a way to write the book – it was too daunting to write an entire book, so I started by writing about different episodes in the blog. For example, the Bad Bacon Eater episode, the You Need To Keep Your Wife In Line episode, and the Mother in Law Wants Me To Return Her Mother’s Wedding Ring To Her After She Gave It To Me episode.

      Then I put it all together, embellished, and edited to include somewhat of a happy ending instead of the real one, which is that none of us can stand each other. The book still needs more editing, but as soon as my husband’s mother can’t read any more, I will try to publish it.

      I have also drafted a book based on my husband’s run for the state legislature. Now he is running for Congress, but I don’t think there is a book in that one.

    6. Mimmy*

      I’ve thought about writing a book or even articles on disability-related topics. The one that’s been in my head relates to fostering positive attitudes and encouraging inclusion rather than making people begrudgingly comply with the law (ADA, Rehab Act, etc).

      1. Anx*

        I’m interested in writing about a disability related topic, but I don’t identify as disabled (although I have a phobia that results in panic disorder and anxiety and some undiagnosed probably learning disabilities). Can you recommend any good resources for preliminary education to avoid speaking over people with debilitates?

    7. Elizabeth West*


      1) I’m querying a novel called Tunerville–it’s about a guy who invents a remote control that will tune up ghosts. :)

      2) I have an older book called Rose’s Hostage in critique with someone (if he doesn’t send it back soon, I’m going to threaten to come get it). It’s about a bank robber who keeps his hostage and the cops who try to find them. I’m hoping the cops will end up being series characters.

      3) I’m outlining the sequel to Rose’s Hostage right now. It doesn’t have a title yet.

      4) I’m making notes, doing research, and trying to stem the flow of another book I can’t talk about at the moment. But it’s bugging the hell out of me, so I may have to do two at once. >_<

      All this on top of trying to work full time. Ugh. But the only way is to just do it.

  68. Ask a Manager* Post author

    In case anyone finds this interesting, this morning I have made an addition to the mental list of the categories of letters that I generally automatically delete (with exceptions if they’re unusually fascinating):
    * questions that arrive as one massively long paragraph
    * questions with no periods
    * questions that are the length of a book chapter
    * questions that are a single sentence (for instance: “how can I get my team to respect me more?”)

    Today I added:
    * questions that are sent from a phone’s text-to-email feature and thus arrive in multiple separate messages and I’m supposed to piece them together

    1. Jamie*

      Really? What’s the thinking? Hey, do me a favor for free and solve the puzzle to figure out what it is.

      Like a text scavenger hunt.

      1. Ali*

        Oh boy…the questions that are the length of a book chapter thing is so me. I am really trying to work on writing shorter e-mails, particularly since one of my (still very friendly) contacts is more to the point. But I feel like my writing background leads me to want to get in every last detail I can, so…long-winded. Luckily, many of my coworkers and other contacts can have the same tendencies, so it’s not all terrible, but I know I just need to cut it out on my end.

        The one massive paragraph and no periods thing drives me nuts, though, since I’m an editor and spend some of my days cleaning up after so-called “top writers” who also have grammar issues…

          1. Gene*

            Every so often Dan Savage will do a short question podcast. All questions have to be asked in (IIRC) less than 30 seconds.

        1. Mimmy*

          I’d be the same way, Ali. Succinctness was never my strong suit–it takes every ounce of mental energy to keep them short. In fact, when I was working as an I&R (information & referral) specialist a few years ago, my handwritten call logs were novels; I felt so bad for the woman who had to enter them into the database!

          1. Jen RO*

            I once tried to email Alison about a situation at work. After 4 failed attempts to write a concise letter, I gave up… even editors have this problem. Or maybe we have it more than other people, since we *can* recognize a text that can be improved.

            1. Ali*

              Haha yep. I am sitting here now trying to write an e-mail to my internship supervisor and both times I’ve tried, it’s become the whole book chapter thing. I’m giving up for now since it’s not urgent or anything, but yeesh. It’s SO easier said than done!

  69. CollegeAdmin*

    I’m currently reading grad school articles and textbooks, so nothing exciting. However, I recommend everyone read Overdressed: The Shockingly High Price of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth L. Cline. Honestly, I’ve told people that if they wear clothes, they should read this book. Absolutely changed my view of fashion and shopping (but no, it’s not a style book).

    1. Diet Coke Addict*

      In a similar vein to that, “Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster” is an excellent book, and it gives a really different perspective on expensive clothes–almost like a sister book to Overdressed! They’re both really good.

      1. Stephanie*

        I’ve read both! They’re both great. I thought Deluxe had some really good cover art as well.

        I can’t remember if it was Deluxe or Overdressed that went into the shady practices behind cheap handbags. My friend called me a buzzkill when I was like “No! Don’t buy a knockoff Coach bag–there’s child labor behind that.”

        I also found the chapter on the Salvation Army really interesting. I suspected they had no use for my 2002 high school orchestra t-shirt.

        Money’s still tight at the moment, but I do try and be more conscientious with my clothing purchases. I try to buy what I can secondhand (it’s already been manufactured in a crappy plant in Bangladesh, but I figure I can at least extend its life a bit more if I buy it secondhand). I also try and buy classic pieces when I can. Luckily, most of the current trends save for neons and brights look terrible on me anyway (seriously, not everyone wants a skinny jean…).

        1. Anx*

          I similarly buy a lot second hand. I have no illusions that I’m completely bypassing the system, as I’m depending on others to buy it first, but I think so long as you don’t deceive yourself into thinking you’re totally removed from manufacturing practices it’s pretty good. Plus, the more money we can save buy selling our clothes or buying used, the more money we can save toward eventually buying items at a fair price.

          What’s so difficult now is that you can’t even just pay more for quality without really vetting the clothes. Some low-quality materials are really expensive. And sometimes the cut and style are higher quality, but the materials aren’t. Or they are good quality but still are made under horrendous conditions.

          Also, I feel like in the past decade clothing costs have become so variable. Some days I can’t find a decent pair of jeans under $50. Other times I feel like I see racks and racks or $10 pairs of pants. The pants I’m currently wearing were $4 on sales rack at a BR outlet. But I can’t find jeans or twill casual pants that I can afford.

  70. Kimberlee, Esq.*

    So, fun little story I’ve been meaning to share on an Open Thread for weeks, but never got around to it.

    Submitted for the approval of the Ask a Manager society, I call this story: The Tale of the Haunted Employee Manual.

    Our IT director created a space on our internal Wiki for our employee manual to be stored there, instead of always being a word doc emailed back and forth. So I sent him the most up-to-date version, and he got to work copy/pasting sections from the word doc into the wiki space.

    A few minutes later, he chats me : “Well, that’s disconcerting.”
    “Oh really? What?”
    “I’m pasting the manual section-by-section, and they’re all copying and pasting just fine, except that at the end of each section it keeps adding the word ‘help.'”

    He had no idea where that “help” was coming from, but it was pasting at the end of everything single section he copy/pasted on that manual. It didn’t happen anywhere else, to any other document.

    It was unsettling.

    1. Jamie*

      Probably had a broken “help” link in the template so instead of being not showing text unless activated a missing tag or bracket could have showed it to show the text of the word unlinked.

      That’s awesome though.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Jamie, have you ever seen anything happen with a computer that could not be explained with earthly reasons? The idea of the spirit world tweaking a computer is fascinating. I know doctors, veterinarians, even gardeners have seen things that defy explanation.

        1. Jamie*

          Yes, although I believe that’s just because what was going on was beyond my knowledge. Although once ages ago when the voicemail system was going weird – where the phone system joins the network – I jokingly blamed it on a ghost named Dennis and told him to knock it off. I was just thinking as in ‘the Menace” but was meant with dead silence. Turns out years before I started an employee named Dennis had committed suicide the night he lost it at work and quit.

          That was a shivery moment.

          This is going to sound weird, but I don’t believe in supernatural stuff…most of the time. I believe almost nothing I see on TV.

          Intellectually I believe there is a logical explanation for everything, but I’ve got a significant thing that happened to me once, a couple that happened to my dad and brother (the most logical and least woo-y people you’d ever meet) that I can’t explain.

          And there have been times I have done things at work beyond my skill level – I always send a thank you shout out to my late father who was in IT long before I was even on the horizon. I’m sure that’s luck, forgotten knowledge, and computers sometimes just resolving their own issues (they do that at times.)

          But I do have a couple of things that I just cannot explain – and if they were tricks of the mind…well, I’ll go to my grave thinking otherwise.

          I’d love to hear your stories if you’d like to share – I find this stuff fascinating.

  71. CollegeAdmin*

    I know we’ve talked about where to shop several times, but I’m afraid I’m bringing it up again.

    I’ve started going to the gym and losing some weight, so my clothes are getting to be a little too big. However, I’m worried about finding things that will fit when I go shopping. I’m 5’6″ with long arms/legs, and I’ve already been wearing a size 0. Skirts that fit my waist sometimes end too far above the knee, and things like cardigans are often too short for my arms and torso.

    Any recommendations for stores that might carry things in size 00 that won’t be too short? I’m 23 years old, if that makes any difference.

    1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      If you have a Ross Dress for Less near you, I recommend keeping an eye there. We often had jeans in the juniors section that were 00 that seemed impossibly long (though that might have only been in comparison).

    2. Ellie*

      My favorite place to shop is Ann Taylor and LOFT (both owned by same company). They have a section for tall women, and a section for petite women. All of their pieces fit amazingly well, unlike other companies where their tailored clothing just doesn’t fit properly.

    3. Questioner*

      You might want to find a good tailor. Most clothes don’t fit correctly on any one.

    4. Trixie*

      You might also track down a tailor so if you find something close to fitting, it can be altered.

    5. Noah*

      I’m a guy, so I don’t have any store recommendations. However, I agree 100% about the tailor. I find things that fit reasonably well and they can make them perfect for a very small cost. Mine will even tell you what to look for in a garment, for instance shoulders in tops and waist size in pants. The rest can apparently be easily altered if it is too big.

    6. Variation*

      Something I just learned about the participants on What Not To Wear is that a large portion of their prize money went towards tailoring. Since it was never mentioned on the show, I went around thinking that these people were just somehow picking up pieces that suited their bodies perfectly, instead of modifying them to match their needs.

      (As an aside, what an ethical failure of WNTW to try to imbue the viewer with the ~wisdom of the stylish~ without mentioning that this process was necessary and reflected in every. single. episode.)

      1. Stephanie*

        What?! That makes way more sense now. I always wondered how they got $5,000 and came out with like four outfits, even factoring that the items are higher quality.

      2. Noah*

        I didn’t know that, I always assumed that they were shopping primarily at high end stores and actually purchased way more than what we were shown on tv.

        To be fair, I do remember Stacey and Clinton mentioning that clothes can be altered during the shopping phase. However, they never really dig into it and explain that most pieces really need a tailor to look their best.

  72. Harriet*

    I just finished The Bunker Diary, after reading a lot of controversy about it winning a children’s book prize.
    I sort of agree – I don’t think the subject matter (abducted people being held prisoner in an underground bunker) or the ending (as bleak as it can be, considering the subject matter) are intrinsically inappropriate for a children’s book prize, but the writing made them so. It was so flat that I didn’t get any sense of character development for the narrator, which would at least have given a moment of internal redemption. They never meet the abductor, so all you know of him is the torturous acts he commits on a whim and it makes it very hard to get into. There was just no sense of hope, beauty or lightness in the book, and so I’m not sure what point it was trying to make other than that bad things happen.

    1. Questioner*

      Have to understand too many of these awards are for the “correct subject matter” then that the book is truly well written. My mother generally disliked children’s books that that won the Caldecott Medal for illustrations because the books themselves were either not very good or had themes that were too dark for children.

  73. Calla*


    I just finished A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan. It’s written as the memoir of Isabella, Lady Trent, who went from a curious young lady (as in the pseudo-Victorian type) to became a dragon expert. I found it really good, with my main complaint being that I wish there had been more LIVE dragons!

    As for a book I think everyone should read… The Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta. The blurb for the first book (Finnikin of the Rock) is “At the age of nine, Finnikin is warned by the gods that he must sacrifice a pound of flesh in order to save the royal house of his homeland, Lumatere. And so he stands on the rock of three wonders with his childhood friend Prince Balthazar and the prince’s cousin, Lucian, and together they mix their blood. And Lumatere is safe. Until the ‘five days of the unspeakable’, when the King and Queen and their children are slaughtered in the palace. And an imposter king takes the throne. And a curse is put on Lumatere, which traps those caught inside and forces thousands of others to roam the land as exiles, dying of fever and persecution in foreign camps. But ten years later Finnikin is led to another rock to meet the young novice, Evanjalin. A girl plagued by dark dreams, who holds the key to their return to the Land of light…”

    And I can’t really say anymore without giving a lot away, except that Evanjalin is hiding something major. It’s technically YA, but very adult in some subject matters–it deals with displaced peoples, the horrors of being an occupied people, the consequences of war, prejudices brought on by all of the aforementioned. There’s a lot of strong, complex female characters (the series is home to two of my favorite fictional women ever), and relationships between women that start off fraught but become unbreakable. I could gush forever but any more would risk spoiling it! :)

  74. Lore*

    Just finished “My Salinger Year” by Joanna Rakoff. It’s a memoir about moving to NYC with artistic goals and ending up working for Salinger’s agent. I feel a great fondness for it because it precisely overlaps the moment of my own similar move.

    I don’t know if there’s a book everyone should read but the book I have owned the most copies of–because I keep giving them away–is Richard Russo’s “Straight Man.”

  75. Sophia*

    So I’ve recently learned some horrible things re: Marion Zimmerman Bradley. I’ve only read Mists of Avalon, and although it was a long time ago, I remember loving it. Turns out she was a staunch defender of her pedofile husband and also molested her daughter.

    Brings me to a question – how much does the personal life of authors (or directors – eg Woody Allen) affect whether or not you enjoy their products? Particularly when there are similarities between their (alleged) crimes and their works? (Eg R Kelly)

      1. the gold digger*

        Oh no. I loved the Mists of Avalon.

        I had to stop reading Anne Perry’s books once I learned the truth about her. And I have not seen a Woody Allen movie in years. So yes, the personal lives do affect my decisions.

    1. Calla*

      Thank you for posting this! (Also, love Jim Hines.)

      Fortunately, I never got into Mists of Avalon so when I learned about MZB (defending her husband has been known for a while, Moira’s story is new) I didn’t have to throw out books or anything. But I will never, ever support rapists. I don’t pay for Woody Allen movies or Polanski movies or pay to see those of his supporters (i.e. Scarlett Johansson saying “we can’t judge Woody Allen’s lifestyle” — molesting your daughter isn’t a LIFESTYLE). They will always be tainted for me.

      More minor things is kind of case by case. If someone was a major douchebag or bigot I wouldn’t pay for their work if they’re alive, but I wouldn’t necessarily across the board rule out consuming it in some fashion. Like, F. Scott Fitzgerald stole from his wife, but he’s dead, so if I found a used copy somewhere I wouldn’t necessarily morally object to that.

      1. Audiophile*

        I can’t say I actively follow any of these people. But I agree that matters in people’s personal lives can greatly color my opinion of them..

        I’m too young to really remember the first Michael Jackson trial and didn’t really pay attention to the second, but thankfully, my mom didn’t out right ban his music in the house. Now it just saddens me how many are profiting off his death – the hologram, anyone?

        Allen and Polanski are another matter. I’ve seen one Woody Allen movie – Hollywood Ending, which many dislike, I enjoyed it but I was also a teen. I have never seen the more famous ones – Annie Hall, Manhattan (though I’ve always been intrigued and may view them at some point.) I’ve never seen any Polanski films.

        I just read the whole comment from Johansson, out of curiosity, and really it was a non-comment, but again I don’t actively follow her career either. Her name got dragged into it, along with several others he’d recently worked with in the open letter. I do think Allen’s comments about her, cross the line into creepy. What the hell is “sexually overwhelming”?

        1. Calla*

          Yeah his comment was definitely creepy.

          The full comment of Scarlett Johansson for context for anyone else:

          “I think it’s irresponsible to take a bunch of actors that will have a Google alert on and to suddenly throw their name into a situation that none of us could possibly knowingly comment on,” Johansson said. “That just feels irresponsible to me.”

          “I think he’ll continue to know what he knows about the situation, and I’m sure the other people involved have their own experience with it. It’s not like this is somebody that’s been prosecuted and found guilty of something, and you can then go, ‘I don’t support this lifestyle or whatever.’ I mean, it’s all guesswork.”

          The first one is fine; “I cannot knowingly comment on that and it would be irresponsible of me to do so” is an acceptable non-comment (though whether it’s acceptable to refuse to comment on a child molester is another story…). But saying “I don’t support this lifestyle or whatever” when you’re talking about child sexual abuse is just flippant and messed up.

    2. Mallory*

      My god. I just read some of the deposition and some of her daughter’s poems about her. I had been intending to recommend The Mists of Avalon to my daughter, but now I won’t. I loved that book. I can’t believe MZB was so off-her-rocker depraved.

    3. Elizabeth*

      I’ve got a lot of work by MZB on my bookshelf. I won’t throw it (most of it was purchased used), but I won’t buy anything else. A friend of mine has totaled up the cover price off all of the MZB works she owns and is donating that amount to RAINN.

      I don’t see movies starring or directed by Woody Allen, Roman Polanski, Mel Gibson or Tom Cruise. I have actively banned anything that includes Jenny McCarthy from my home. I have very specific lines on active conduct that I cannot endorse or allow my money to be used to support. I feel the same way about Orson Scott Card.

      I don’t have as hard a line on those who defend those whose conduct I find objectionable.

      1. Jamie*

        Count me in on the above – although lack of Jenny McCarthy isn’t much of a culture loss – although I did like her book on pregnancy before she lost her mind. (Although even at the time I doubted she wrote it herself.)

        Tbh none of the others are a loss to me either since i wasn’t a fan of any of them before the stuff hit – the biggest loss to me was The Who after the Pete Townsend thing.

        I get viscerally angry when a Who song comes on the radio because I love their music so much and I can’t enjoy it anymore because it’s coupled with my disgust now.

        I’ll be honest I read into the scandal when it first broke desperately hoping it would be one of those misunderstandings or plausibly a witch hunt…but I was left with still feeling gross about him.

        I don’t know why I didn’t have as strong a reaction to the Stones considering Bill Wyman’s marriage but maybe it was because I’ve always known about that and it wasn’t a shock – or because he’s not front and center – but it’s hypocritical of me that it doesn’t elicit the same response.

        I will admit that I have the same extreme reaction irl. Ages ago I was told an elderly relative had made some advances to younger relatives almost 50 years prior and even though it didn’t happen to me or anyone I loved (nor, to my knowledge, did anything physically happen) I was filled with horror and disgust that people knew about this and still spoke to him.

        How do you know this and allow them in your home? At your table?

        With few exceptions most people felt it was an extreme overreaction (and I didn’t call a meeting – but when pushed did explain to the people who knew why I wouldn’t attend functions.). I’ve also gotten the feeling that my hard line on this is outside the norm from the couple of threads we’ve had here on the topic of offenders in the workplace.

        Same as I don’t understand how Michael Jackson is still celebrated in the media. Glad I never liked his music to begin with, but how does everyone turn a blind eye to what he admitted – even if you believe the acquittal meant he was innocent.

        It was definitively one of those times where I thought maybe there is something wrong with me since other people I respect have a more moderate and reasoned reaction. But in the end I can’t change how I feel about this.

        And I’ve had people ask me if something happened to me and hence my reaction – and truly nothing ever has – I just can’t deal with it and it yes, it colors everything else once I know this.

        I am a very non-violent person, but I remember when Drew Peterson was out on bail and dating a 19-20 year old girl and her father was interviewed and said he didn’t like it but she chose him so he was making the best of it. I don’t know what I would have done if that was my baby – but making the best of it wouldn’t happen. Shit like that would make me lose my mind if they were adults – much less kids.

        1. Calla*

          I don’t remember any of your specific comments in the offender posts, but I’m with you. I generally believe in giving people a second chance, but sexual violence (and making a pass at a minor counts, even if it never becomes physical) is not one of those things, and I would definitely refuse to allow that relative to come into my home, attend events with them, etc. Zero excuses and zero forgiveness.

        2. Mallory*

          I have the same immoderate reaction. People of the age of consent doing consrnsual things? Fine. But anybody preying on another human being, especially the powerless or a minor? Just no, and I don’t feel obligated to speak to them ever again as long as I live.

          My mom told me that her father molested her and hrr sister when they were girls. Never spoke to him again, did not even go to his funeral.

          My sister told me that a boyfriend of hers intentionally caused her pain during sex and that he told her he enjoyed it. Never acknowledged him again. They broke up years ago and he recently posted on Facebook that he got a vibe from me that he was something dirty on the bottom of my shoe. Still did not (nor will I ever) grace him with a response. Dsmn straight he a piece of shit on the bottom my shoe. Glad he recognizes that.

          1. Mallory*

            Consensusl BDSM = fine with me. My sister did not want what he did to het and he bragged about it to her.

            1. Jamie*

              Yeah, I literally could not care less what consenting adults do. I don’t necessarily want to hear about it from casual acquaintances because I have no idea how I’m supposed to respond. Congratulations? Good for you? It’s nice you have a hobby? Why are you telling me this?

              But whatever people want to do and who they want to do it to is fine with me as long as the two key criteria are in play 100%: consenting and adult.

              The second someone is harmed, exploited, or violated I’m as judgmental as they come.

              I do believe in evil – I think it’s rare as most people are decent, but it believe it’s out there and yes, preying upon the powerless or the vulnerable makes you a human monster in my book.

              This kind of thing erases any talents these people may have had. I mean Hitler is lauded as a great orator but you don’t see him featured in speech classes because evil overrides any benign qualities that may co-exist.

        3. Sophia*

          I don’t know anything about the Stones, will have to look that up but I completely agree re: that dad’s response to daughter dating Scott Peterson is crazy.

          I also am ultra sensitive to how crazy family dynamics are and how hurtful letting people who have hurt others into the home. My biological father was my mothers stepfather, molesting her for over ten years until I was conceived when she was 14. And yet, my half siblings/half aunts and uncles continue to be in touch with him, have invited him to some (not all) family gatherings, even after he remarried to a literal mail order bride and has a young daughter – and don’t ever acknowledge anything. It’s deeply hurtful and I don’t understand why they don’t write him off. Especially since they didnt grow up with him because he spent a lot of time in jail for another crime!

          1. Jamie*

            I am so sorry, also for. Mallory’s mom and aunt above. My heart just breaks that people have to live with that.

            I don’t know much about the specifics of how the Amish use it, but I don’t understand why the concept of shunning isn’t adopted in the mainstream for things like this. Some acts should remove you from decent society forever.

            I will never understand how seemingly normal people continue to have a relationship with predators once they know.

            1. Sophia*

              Thanks. I agree. There are some acts that are just so despicable, that the people who do them should be cut off

          2. Not So NewReader*

            Wow. Just wow.
            I am sorry this happened to you, and some of your family seems to be deaf/mute/blind. What is that line “how can people be so heartless…”?

            It seems to me that we, as a society, are still failing people all.the. time.

      2. Sophia*

        Yes! I refuse to watch Mel Gibson or Tom Cruise movies anymore as well as others. And it’s so strange to me when people’s actions are so reprehensible, that some can distance the author from the work. Though I’m a bit of a hypocrite bc I love the song Ignition (Remix) by R Kelly and feel guilty listening to that only song of his especially since that expose came out and was highlighted by Jezebel

      3. Mimmy*

        I definitely won’t read or watch anything with Jenny McCarthy. I actually DID read her book about her son having autism and her whole stance against vaccines. Yeah, I fell for that whole bit -.-

        1. Mallory*

          I will have to google up what she did; I have’t heard anything. Also about the Stones.

    4. Sabrina*

      Wow. MZB has been one of my favorite authors and I’ve loved Mists of Avalon. I had no idea.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      It does affect my decision. I won’t put my money on it if I don’t support the person’s personal views. If I absolutely need to read/see it for some reason, I’ll find a way to not pay anything (borrowing, etc.).

    6. Jen RO*

      I don’t usually care about their personal lives, unless their writing gets preachy – so I do like Orson Scott Card’s books, but I would not read a book of his that promoted Mormonism; I like Anne Rice, but I stayed away from her Jesus book.

      1. Helka*

        Believe me, you didn’t lose out on anything by avoiding Anne Rice’s Jesus book — I read it because I was a theology student at the time and figured I ought to at least be able to give a cogent opinion if asked. (Everyone and their dog had felt the need to interrogate me over The Da Vinci Code, so I decided I ought to be prepared.)

        I did not manage to finish it, and my cogent opinion turned out to be “Yuck! This woman’s claiming to be Christian now? Are you kidding me?”

  76. Ellie*

    “Delivering Happiness” by Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos. Great business book. I love non-fiction.

    1. Noah*

      I saw it on my phone and opened by laptop to comment and it was gone. Figured it just went up early. It was a great post though.

      1. ChiTown Lurker*

        Thanks, I thought that I had accidentally replied to an old post. I look forward to seeing it again.

  77. Annie*

    Books last one I read was The Island by Elin Hilderbrand… I love all of her books (they all take place around Nantucket so for me they give me a mental beach break).
    I honestly read a lot of beach books- as in they take place at the beach- and chick lit/fluff, though currently Smart Trust by Stephen M.R. Covey is staring at me from my book shelf.
    For what I go back to over and over again?
    The Good People of New York by Thisbe Niessen (all short stories of overlapping characters or the same characters at different points in their lives), Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brasheres, Bloom by Kelle Hampton, and Carry On Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton. (The last 2 are mom blogger’s books- the first about her life but mostly struggles around her daughter being born with Down Syndrome; the second is short stories about how she ended up where she is writing the blog).
    I’ll always grab Curtis Sittenfeild, Jennifer Weiner, and Melissa Senate when I want something to dive into.
    I also want to re-read the Giver before the movie comes out. (Please note I was an election judge for the primary here in Maryland last week and grabbed 9 books from the library and have finished 4 of them now…)

  78. looking for advice (semi-work related)*

    I’m lucky to work with a lot of awesome people, one of whom in particular I hit it off with very well, and everyone knows that we are good friends. However, I am constantly fielding questions from our colleagues about whether he is interested in me, if we are dating, why we are not dating, etc. People do date in our office, but he’s not on board with that, though there are times that I’ve gotten the sense that he might be interested if we did not work together. Since it seems to be a moot point, does anyone have any advice about how to handle these questions in a way that I don’t have to continue to deal with them, but is still nice to him (he is a great guy and I don’t want to imply otherwise in my answer) and allows us to still be good friends without feeling watched in the office?

    For the record, I don’t know if he is also getting this interrogation, but I imagine he’s heard it once or twice as well – though we’ve never discussed it.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Ugh, how annoying. I had a friend like that in high school. The only thing that finally stopped it was when he showed up to a football game with another girl. People were like, “Um, did you know…” for a few minutes. Yes, I know, and we are not dating, so I don’t care!

      1. Mallory*

        Ha. My grandma smugly predicted that, despite my protests to the contrary, one day I would have the maturity to realize that my best friend from first grade all the way through high school was the love of my life and that we’d get married and have babies.

        Until he showed up home from college with another guy!

    2. Stephanie*

      “Mike’s a great guy, but we’re friends/colleagues and just that.” Be firm. People debate about this, but I believe you can be good friends with someone of the preferred sex without it turning into When Harry Met Sally.

      Story of my life. I suppose because of my jobs and college major (engineering), I was around lots of guys and made guy friends easily (although to clarify…I’m not one of those drama-filled women who claims they “just can’t get along with other women”). And there’d always been one friend who I’d become close to and hear “Ooooh, what’s up with you and Wakeen?” Worst was when a friend who, bless her heart, has the subtlety of a Mack truck. She drunkenly told me once “You and Wakeen would be perfect together. Is it because he’s white?” I just face palmed and said “Wow” in response.

    3. C Average*

      True, funny, slightly horrible story of which I’m inordinately proud.

      I, too, had a best guy friend from sixth grade onward. (We actually had a whole love/hate thing going on initially. It was a very Anne Shirley/Gilbert Blythe dynamic. He liked me, I found him a Yucky Boy; I liked him, he found me a Yucky Girl. But it stabilized to a very close friendship involving a lot of teasing and inside jokes.) We bantered. We fought. We went places together. We defended one another from bullies. We would’ve done anything for one another, and our friends all assumed we either had a hot romance going, or someday would.

      Fast-forward to our ten-year reunion. We’re both single. We’re both less than thrilled about being single. We’re both not looking forward exactly to attending the reunion, but we kind of want to.

      So we hatch a plan. We decide we will pretend we’re married. We concoct a back story. We convince my mother to take fake wedding pictures of us.

      We don’t figure anyone will actually buy it. I mean, it’s absurd!

      But they DO buy it. Everyone is so happy for us! They knew all along we were meant for each other! It’s so romantic.

      And so freaking awkward. How are we going to tell these people they’ve been punked?

      It’s getting late. The party is winding down. We aren’t sure how to come clean and how to escape. An old friend of mine arrives toward the end of the festivities. Upon hearing our “news,” she crinkles her nose, throws her head back laughing, and says, “That is SO not true!”

      Relieved, we confirm that it is indeed so not true.

      The event coordinator is drunk and a little belligerent. She’s mad that we’ve used the event she planned as the setting for a nasty prank. We apologize and beat a swift retreat.

      Of course, by this time many of our classmates with young kids have already departed. The news spreads fast in a small town. Even weeks later, people are coming up to my mother in the grocery store to congratulate her.

      It was SO MUCH FUN.

      We never did hook up. We had one kiss that I will remember fondly until the end of my days. I’m happily married to someone else. He’s happily engaged to someone else. We probably talk once a year. I would still take a bullet for that boy. (And yes, he’ll always be a boy to me, even at 40 and beyond.)

      I’m smiling just thinking about it. It’s one of my favorite things I’ve ever done.

      1. Daisy*

        Ok, that is funny. And almost something I might do. I did once start a rumor about myself to see how quickly it got around. Someone asked if I was married yet (we were in different work locations by then) and I said yep, I eloped in Vegas recently.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Great story- I loved this.

        I can’t remember where I read this, but the author’s belief was that it is in our friendships that we learn how to pick a spouse and how to live as a married person. It’s the foundational work- where we learn the nuts and bolts of relationships. Sounds like yours went very well for the both of you.

    4. Daisy*

      Well, a male coworker friend said, in response to someone on why we hadn’t hooked up, was that my standards were too high.
      I thought it was great and intend to use it as my response to people when they ask crap like that.
      (She knows I don’t date coworkers, claims to not date coworkers, I have said I am not interested and still she wanted to ask us this?)

    5. A Bug!*

      It seems to be a common misconception that men and women can’t be platonic friends, and some people just cannot be convinced otherwise, so you might have an uphill battle with those folks.

      But I don’t think you need to rag on the guy in answering those intrusive questions. “Bob and I are friends and I’d really appreciate it if people would stop speculating about us.”

      The question of “why” is especially rude, so you should feel free to be extra-curt in answering it, or not answering it at all.

      1. Mints*

        Yeah, I think you should be nice the first time (Do you like Bob? No, he’s awesome but I’m not interested). Anything beyond that, feel free to be curt.

        I too have been accused of flirting with male friends/coworkers when I was having a totally nonflirty, friendly conversation. And I was so flabbergasted. It’s weird. I hate the perception that I can’t have platonic male friends

  79. De Minimis*

    I recently finished We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler and I really enjoyed that, but the recent read I’m most excited about is I Want to Show You More by Jamie Quatro. It’s one of the better story collections I’ve read in a long while….

  80. danr*

    Haven’t seen much in my areas of interest, which are a bit off the beaten paths. I’m currently re-reading the SF series, the Lost Fleet by Jack Campbell. I’m also reading the history/biography: The Admirals: Nimitz, Halsey, Leahy and King by Walter Borneman.
    My favorite recommendation for everyone is Harry Potter. I also read as much good science as I can get.

      1. danr*

        You might also like the Odyssey One books by Evan Currie. I liked the first “Into the Black”, not so much the second “Heart of the Matter”, couldn’t finish the third “Homeworld”, but will still get the fourth to see if he wraps it up nicely.

  81. samaD*

    books! :D

    recently finished:
    Silver Borne (Patricia Briggs), Casino Infernale (Simon R. Green), Steadfast (Mercedes Lackey), Affliction (Laurell K. Hamilton), Half-Off Ragnarok (Seanan McGuire), The 9th Girl (Tami Hoag), Virals (Kathy & Brendan Reichs)

    Complete John Carter of Mars – Edgar Rice Burroughs

    starting soon:
    1066 and All That (A Memorable History of England, comprising all the parts you can remember, including 103 Good Things, 5 Bad Kings, and 2 Genuine Dates) – Sellar & Yeatman
    A Free Man of Colour – Barbara Hambly (Benjamin January series, set in New Orleans in the 1830s)

    reccs….I need some cheer so I’m going to go with funny books :)
    1066 and All That – funny, bad history (the title basically says it all), in faux-schoolbook format.
    Twisted Tales from Shakespeare – Richard Armour (similar format to 1066, similarly funny. He has several others too :) )
    The Art of Coarse Acting – Michael Green
    Stephanie Plum series – Janet Evanovich (mysteries, but some very funny parts)
    much of Ogden Nash’s poetry

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Ogden Nash is fantastic.

      A flea and a fly in a flue
      Were imprisoned, so what could they do?
      Said the fly, “let us flee!”
      “Let us fly!” said the flea.
      So they flew through a flaw in the flue.


      1. samaD*

        isn’t he just? :D I discovered him in 10th grade, when we had to memorize & recite a poem, and it’s been an affair ever since :)

        (I cannot for the life of me find the poem I memorized now….time to pull out the books rather than the internet!)

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I had a little limerick book from Hallmark when I was a kid. It’s still around here somewhere. There were a LOT of his in there. Here’s another one:

          An intrepid explorer named Blake
          Fell into a tropical lake.
          Said a fat alligator,
          A few minutes later,
          “Very nice, but I still prefer steak.”

    2. Sophia*

      I love, love, love early Laurell K Hamilton but man, I feel like there was a nose dive somewhere, where it’s basically just erotica and she’s written herself in a corner ever since Anita

      SPOILER ALERT since I don’t know which book it’s in
      Has the ardor (sp?)

      1. samaD*

        completely agree! the early ones were fantastic, but then the ardour(?) and….wow, time to skip entire sections of the book.

        potential spoiler opinions up to the most recent paperback
        I do think she’s been writing herself back out of the corner these last few books – it’s becoming more of a tool and a thing to be accounted for than a controlling mechanism – but she may be writing herself into a different corner.
        I will admit I’m willing to make more allowances for such a long-running series though, so I’ll take breaks when it gets too much and come back :)

      2. KitKat*

        Oh! Thank god, someone else!

        I LOVED the first batch of books in the Anita Blake series. I was obsessed. Then… it just became habit. Then to see how bad they could get. Then just to see if it would ever improve again. “The Harlequin” gave me this burst of false hope, because it was sooo good, and back to the standard of the early books. And then the next one dropped right back down and I was so disappointed.

        I feel like in the later books I’m just reading Hamilton’s fetish journal, and I’m not into it. :/

      3. NW Cat Lady*

        Yay! I think Obsidian Butterfly was the last good one. I actually stopped reading them because they got so incredibly porn-y, with no actual plot to back it up.

  82. Graythan*

    Recommended book: first one that jumps to mind is Mistwalker by Denise Lopes Heald, if you can find a copy. It was a Del Rey Discovery book (first novels, but good quality). Very intriguing and unusual world, with rich characters. The bad part is that she apparently has only the one book and a few short stories out; looks like she never tried another novel.

    Of course, I love dozens of books (and read a lot/all the time), so I also have to say “anything by” Anne Bishop, Nalini Singh, Elizabeth Hunter, Ilona Andrews, Patricia Briggs, Thea Harrison, Nora Roberts/JD Robb, Mercedes Lackey, Shelley Laurenston (goofy good), Jacqueline Rhodes, Kelley Armstrong…

    Okay, I’m out of control now. Must stop… This is why that “last book/favorite book” question never works for me. I own several thousand physical books, and have over a hundred on my e-reader. What can I say, I’m an addict.

    1. Calla*

      Several thousand–do you have an entire room that’s just books!?

      I’m a fan of ebooks now and I probably have a couple hundred total. I used to have physical books, but I culled them during my cross-country move and then the second time I moved around in Boston (being a young adult here means moving around quite a bit). Ebooks don’t weigh a thing! :)

      1. Jamie*

        I love ebooks now, but I probably have 1000 or so books boxed up until we get around to installing shelves in the family room – just have one in the living room for favorites but my house is impossible to situate properly with furniture – stupid open floor plan.

        When my kids were small our library would have yearly sales where you could get tons of books for pennies a piece – and kids books they’d let you fill a paper grocery bag with as many as you could get in there for $1. I got a lot of the classics that I don’t even like, but it inspired a love of Shakespeare, Poe, and Dickens in my eldest. He just finished Dostoyevsky’s the Double because he was bored and it was there.

        I think that’s the benefit of having books around – kids at least have the opportunity to pick them up without much effort.

        He wanted to talk to me about it, but like with Shakespeare I read it but I don’t get it. I read Moby Dick in school and I was able to parrot the whole allegory thing, but tbh it was about a guy and a whale for me. I don’t think I’m as moved or improved by reading the classics as I should be. And I do not get poetry at all.

        I wish I was more cultured.

      2. Graythan*

        My current house is old, so lots of windows and slanted walls/dormers. There are actually very few walls where I can put a bookcase, so I only have three tall ones up now, plus a few short ones that these days hold many things besides books. Storage is always an issue in an old house. I used to have seven or eight tall bookcases, all stuffed w/ books. Most of them are boxed up now. I did try really hard to cull the collection before I moved (books are heavy!!!), but I’m like a dragon with his treasure when it comes to books. Luckily I don’t hoard anything else. ;-)

        I buy my absolute favorite “can’t wait!” authors in e-books, plus I experiment a lot with new authors and self-published stuff that way. It’s a lot easier to take a chance on a $2 book than one that costs $7 or 8.

    2. danr*

      Yes. That was my problem in college. I went to the library and thought… So many books, so little time….

  83. Jamie*

    This thread is making me realize it’s been ages since I read a new book for pleasure. I used to read all the time and still do – but articles and internet stuff. I need to get lost in a novel again.

    I do re-read stuff sometimes, comfort reading. Speaking of, does anyone else love Mary Roberts Rineart? In the late 80’s my mom found a set of 9 her books at a yard sale and picked them up for $0.50 (for the set) – she knew I liked old books. Turns out they were from the early 1908-1924 per the copywrite date, but they are all a set and in the same binding but I can’t find a date in there to see when the set was published.

    MRR trivia – one of her books containing the phrase “the butler did it” put that into our vernacular.

    I’d never sell them, but I’m curious if anyone knows a website for estimating value of old books? I’ve got quite a few books printed in the late 1800-early 1900s. Although my husband ruined my first edition of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Round the Red Lamp. I’m just curious to see if they have any value besides sentimental.

      1. Jamie*

        Thanks – it has to be between 1924 and 1927 because that’s the year George H. Doran Company merged with Doubleday and this is showing them as “The Review of Reviews Corp. published by arrangement with the George H Doran Company.”

        It’s possible they used that after the merger, I’m still researching. I needed a fun project for my vacation and I’m at a deadened with some of my genealogy brick walls so I can trace the siblings of my books. :). I found someone selling 5 from the same set two of which I don’t have, so I ordered those so good start.

  84. gR*

    Reading: A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
    Recommend:Meditations by Marcus Aurelius (Hays translation)

  85. Persephone Mulberry*

    My sister is getting married! She and her fiance’ have decided to do a destination wedding in Hawaii next October. Even though I’m a little stressed about affording it, I’m so excited that she gave us a perfect excuse for a major family vacation.

    1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      Oh, that’s awesome! I’m a little afraid to go to Hawaii because I think it’s possible I’d just never leave!

    2. Sascha*

      That sounds fun! I had never really been interested in Hawaii until my in-laws took us there a couple years ago, and I fell in love with it. I’d live there if I could afford it. Although I would miss winter…they don’t really have seasons…

  86. Sophia*

    I’ve read a lot of what’s called paranormal romance (don’t judge!) and here are the others I’ve loved (not speaking to whole series bc I think there are series that have taken a nose dive – Southern Vampire series, I’m looking at the ending of you!)

    Kim Harrison’s Rachel Morgan / Hollows series
    Richelle Mead – both her Succubus series and Dark Swan series
    Kelley Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld (each book is a different POV)
    Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files
    Marjorie Lu’s Darkness calls series
    Jaye Wells’ Sabina Kane
    Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series
    CE Murphy’s Walker Papers series
    Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels
    Charlaine Harris – Southern Vampire series (aka True Blood but the tv show stopped following the books in season two iirc), she also has a few other series, and I’ve read and liked the Harper Connelly series

    Non paranormal romances, things that Spring to mind
    Although I really liked Gone Girl, I think her two other books – Sharp Objects and Dark Places are better
    Clan of the Cave Bear series
    Hunger Games

    1. Calla*

      Gone Girl was my favorite, but Sharp Objects was FANTASTIC as well. Wasn’t a huge fan of Dark Places… it wasn’t badly written or anything it just didn’t grab me.

      1. Ruffingit*

        I posted this below, but the ending of Gone Girl killed me. I absolutely hated it, was really hoping for something different.

        1. Calla*

          I’ve made my peace with the ending. I would have preferred something different too (Amy winning!!) but the one she went with suits the book and characters though it’s not the ONLY one that would have worked.

    2. Felicia*

      I loved The Women of the Otherworld! My favourite is Frostbitten. I also liked No Humans Involved. Did you see the TV adaptation of Bitten? I thought it was really bad and almost an insult to the amazing book series. Also have you read The Darkest Powers series by Kelley Armstrong? it’s set in the same universe as Women of the Otherworld, but with teens and with a whole big conspiracy thing, so it’s awesome

      1. Sophia*

        Oh, I’ll have to check that out, I haven’t read it! I tried watching Bitten once, but couldn’t watch it all the way through it was so bad. Same with the Dresden Files tv adaptation unfortunately :(

        1. Felicia*

          The first one is called The Summoning! I think you’d like it. It’s about a teen necromancer who gets sent to aa home for mentally disturbed teens , which makes sense when a necromancer shares what she does with regular people, which ends up being populated by a lot of supernatural teens. The series has a similar vibe to Stolen, but it’s a much bigger conspiracy.

  87. Sophia*

    Also, due date is today, and she shows no signs of coming out! I don’t mind – other than being extremely tired and uncomfortable – since I have work I need to do, but my husband and both sides of our families are frustrated!

    1. Jamie*

      First baby? They tend to take their time. :).

      It’s such an exciting and frustrating time! But the only frustration that matters is yours – as long as they can still get up out of deep chairs without assistance they don’t get to complain!

      My thoughts will be with you – wishing you a super easy delivery.

      1. Sophia*

        Thanks! Yes, first baby to full term (previous missed miscarriage), we’re incredibly excited! Just frustrated bc this past week I couldn’t do anything but sleep and space out and I finally now have some energy and have an R&R due soon, which should be finished before she arrives but probably won’t be! (Grad student, R&R is short hand for revise and resubmit article to peer reviewed journal).

        1. Jamie*

          I’m impressed – I was barely able to remember by name by my due date much less revise anything!

          Keep your feet up and don’t discourage others’ urges to pamper you – it goes by too quickly and remember when you’re at rest your body is doing as much work as mountain climbing – just internal energy expenditures. So unless other people are actually climbing mountains with a baby using their bladder alternately as a futon and football you’re working harder than they are.

          Even with your feet up resting your eyes. :)

          1. Sophia*

            Thanks – I’m trying to work not sure how successful I am :) And I just got my second ever pedicure for pampering!! It’s funny because I’m so ticklish I start laughing when my feet are getting a massage.

  88. Ruffingit*

    A book I highly recommend: The Dive from Clausen’s Pier by Ann Packer. The book is about a couple who’ve been together since high school and now that they’ve graduated college, the woman finds she’s not in love with her fiance anymore and she wants to break up. Before she can do so, he dives off Clausen’s Pier and is paralyzed. The book explores what we owe people we love and ourselves when things don’t go as planned. I loved it!

  89. Ruffingit*

    Gone Girl. I just can’t even. Loved the book on the whole, but that ending. GAH!!

    1. Audiophile*

      Ok clearly I need to check out Gone Girl. I really loved her writing when she wrote for EW, so I can’t imagine not liking the book.

  90. Chris*

    Haven’t read many books at all in the last couple years. Had a DC kick for about 2 months, but that fixation died when the writing felt very average for a lot of material that many people consider good.

    Right now, I’m going through good seasons of Survivor :Cagayan was really fun. I don’t think that is going to stick though:

    – Amazon felt bleh pre-merge and good post merge. Rob Cesternino basically was the season’s wit and strategic fun even though his personality feels off.

    -China was above average TV: 6 – 7 people stood out, and Todd was absolutely fantastic at the game. The thing is: a couple Survivor boards have this at #2. It’s similar to the love people have for Chrono Trigger: it’s solid, but doesn’t feel like top-tier material.

    I’m going to go through Pearl Islands next (people have this at #1) and my mental hindbrain will decide what it wants to do from there: more Survivor, or move on to other fixations.

    Life really just isn’t as fun as it used to be.

    1. Jamie*

      Pearl islands is Rupert’s first season I believe.

      If you’re going to tackle that I suggest cocktails. Or meditation.

      Not a bad season but that guy is nails on a chalkboard to me 24/7.

      I need something to watch – nothing interests me anymore. I know how you feel.

      1. Chris*

        Couple places have told me that is their (collective) #1 season. PI is apparently the apex of Survivor-ness in a lot of places.

        First ep seemed good. Rupert is a character that definitely stands out, that’s for sure. Even on HvV (another good season people like, although that was more – or – less the Russell Hantz show).

        If you haven’t watched Survivor Cagayan, I suggest you do so. Tony Vlachos was made for TV (erratic fun paranoia : bag of tricks, talking Llama, making moves all the time even if they weren’t well thought out) and had a cast of people that most were playing to win day 1.

        Contrast to Todd from China who was made for Survivor (incredible charisma + Survivor intelligence). (Can’t find non-good or non-spoilery vids of him if you haven’t seen the season). Although, Cagayan had about 14 / 18 people playing to win. China had about 4 / 18.

        As for other shows. Dunno. Friends of mine really like Attack on Titan. Might go through that next (anime sometimes has really good writing) if I honestly can’t think of anything.

  91. Mints*

    I think I might be starting another Stephen King fad in my book reading, but I just read “Needful Things.” And one thing I’ve noticed with Stephen King books is that it makes me want to never ever live in rural towns. Like two police officers take the day off and it’s MAYHEM. I can’t deal with that

  92. Jazzy Red*

    I got a wake-up call today, one I’m going to pay attention to.

    I was home with my 2 dogs, and one of the smoke alarms went off. I checked the house and there was no reason for it to go off. I live in a rural area and every time our farmer neighbors light a fire in their fireplaces or wood stoves, or burn debris outdoors, my smoke alarms go off. The dogs always go beserk, so I got the step ladder out and took the battery out.

    I didn’t think too much of it, but another smoke alarm went off a couple of minutes later. I decided to check the garage and I *think* I might have smelled smoke. That was enough for me and I called 9-1-1. I tried to round up the dogs and managed to get one. I opened the garage door to get her into the car, and she decided to go visiting the neighborhood. I had to chase her down and plop her in the car. The other dog wouldn’t come with me, so I let him out the back door into the fenced-in yard. I got myself and the dog in my new car and backed out of the driveway and waited for the police & fire department to come.

    I though I was going to have a heart attack. It was really scary and I couldn’t catch my breath. I am really overweight and out of condition (this was my wake-up call). Well, the firemen couldn’t find any sign of fire or anything else. There were at least 8 guys here, and they all checked the house and attic a couple of times, the last time with a meter. They stayed for about 1/2 hour and told me they felt it was safe and to call if anything else happened.

    My breathing and heart rate finally settled down, but I’m embarassed and ashamed at how out of shape I am. Someday there’s going to be an emergency and I’ll need to be physically able to move, shove, jump, climb or whatever to stay alive. I know what I need to do; I’ve done it before.

    I did remember, however, to grab my emergency purse on the way out of the house. At least I did something right.

    1. Ruffingit*

      It’s a tough realization when you are shown just how overweight and out of shape you are. I’m in something of the same spot myself so I get where you are coming from. I’m buying a treadmill and getting back into C25k. That might be something you would like to try as it takes people from sedentary to the ability to run a 5k, but it does it in slow increments. I’ve done the program before and felt really great about how in shape I got in a pretty short amount of time. I’m not talking about shedding weight either, although that happened too and was nice, but my endurance went way up.

    2. Trixie*

      Sounds horrific at the time, I’m sure. And if you’re going to get a wake-up call, this sounds like a good one. Going easy starting out, baby steps add up fast. You’ll crave healthy food, have more energy and sleep better than ever before. Keep us posted!

    3. Jazzy Red*

      Thanks for the encouragement!

      I’ve been thinking of getting a treadmill for the rainy days, and walking the subdivision on nicer days (today was very nice, and I had a 30 minute walk. Yoga later.). I weighed myself this morning and found that I’ve been the same weight (too much) for the past 10 years, but much less fit.

      I’ll post in a few weeks with progress. Thanks again!

  93. Tara*

    I just read Hero by Perry Moore. It’s definitely a teen book, but if you enjoy that kind of thing I would highly recommend it! It’s set in a world where superheroes and supervillains are common. The main character, Thom,’s dad is a disgraced former hero who now hates everything to do with superpowers. Thom finds out he has the power to heal people and ends up going into training as a superhero himself. It’s a short read– I read it in one sitting, about two hours.

    1. Tara*

      As far as the second question goes, I definitely strongly feel like everyone should read Tamora Pierce. Especially boys. There’s enough fighting and adventure to keep them interested, and I think little boys aren’t exposed often enough to strong female protagonists. I’d recommend Protector of the Small or Song of the Lioness.

  94. Mimmy*

    Paging Stephanie: There’s a documentary tonight on CNBC about Large River Company and their working conditions :)

  95. Former Professional Computer Geek*

    I’m a big fan of writer Dana Stabenow, especially (but not only) her Kate Shugak books. They’re mysteries set in rural Alaska, the state in which Stabenow lives. They all look at life in Alaska, especially as seen from the POV of Kate, a Native Alaskan.

    The last novel in the Kate Shugak series came out late last year and it ended on a huge cliffhanger. Then Stabenow announced that the next book in the series won’t come out until 2015! AUGH!

  96. Jennifer*

    Yesterday I finished reading “My Story” by Elizabeth Smart with Chris Stewart. I am currently reading “Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery” by Robert Kolker. I recommend everyone read “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg because it is about time for equality in the workforce.

  97. Jamie*

    Age =\= value that’s for sure.

    Went through some of my old books because I was thinking about it due to this thread and was bored…have a couple of first editions from 1908 and one from 1902 and a set of 10 from 1912 – all of them together not worth even $200 if I could find a buyer. I don’t want to sell anyway, I will keep them forever for the sentiment, but you’d think just the effort of keeping stuff unripped and in decent condition for over 100 years should be worth more.

    On the upside I found some additions to my Mary Roberts Rinehart collection – same set – for crazy low prices so that’s fun.

    And I found so many of her books online to read for free So I’m keeping mine safe in the bookshelf and I’ll just download them.

  98. Shell*

    I’m slowly (very slowly) working through the English translations of the Arsene Lupin stories by Maurice Leblanc.

    It’s funny–I grew up reading the Chinese translations of those (along with the Sherlock Holmes translations), and I always liked Lupin much better because he was dashing and charming and Holmes just seemed bland in comparison. I think the translations didn’t do them justice, because rereading them with grown-up eyes, I relate to (or at least respect) Holmes’ quiet assuredness a lot better than Lupin’s mercurial temper and–sometimes–flightiness. I’m not sure how much of that was just the way the authors intended their characters to be and how much of that was English and French culture seeping in.

    (I’m assuming these English translations of Lupin are a lot more authentic than the Chinese translations I grew up reading, since the latter was aimed at kids.)

    Still, I’m really enjoying them. Oh, nostalgia!!

  99. West Coast Reader*

    I’ve commented here before as JC, and today I decided to set up my own Gravatar. I’ve only been a religious reader here for 2 years, it’s about time.

    I have a situation that I need to talk about. I know I just really need to be upfront about this with my family.

    Two relatives are here visiting from halfway around the world for a few months. I need to tell them that while I would be happy to show them around and hang out, I don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars going on a trip with them. I’m in my 20’s, they’re in their 60’s, and as much as I love them, we don’t do the same types of activities. I flew to my home country at the beginning of the year and went on a trip to a neighbouring country. I already spent $1500 then.

    I have never been on a oversea/extended trip with friends. The most I’ve done are weekend trips. If I’m spending money on travelling, that’s what I want to be doing – going on adventures on people my age. I’m also planning on quitting my job to go abroad later this year on a work exchange, so I’m trying to save up as much as I can for that. I feel guilty because they paid $2000 each for their flights to be here. I want them to have a good time, but I know my mom and they are expecting me to join in on a tour somewhere. I have the money, though that’s not how I want to spend it. Any thoughts, AMA readers?

    1. azvlr*

      West Coast Reader,
      It’s hard to tell from your post, but it sounds like you may not clearly understand the expectations from your family yet.

      I would say that if you are making your home available to your relatives for an extended period of time, that you have more say in this situation than you realize.

      If I was in your relative’s situation, I would feel as though I needed to include my host in my activities so that I didn’t feel like a mooch. I would probably be relieved to be able to come and go without having to coordinate everyone’s schedule.

      That being said, I think it would be polite to go with them on at least one outing, but make it clear that you have other commitments and will not be able to go everywhere with them.

    2. Vancouver Reader*

      Are you currently working? Tell them you can meet up with them after work and maybe do some free things with them on the weekends.

      If it were my relatives visiting, they’d probably want to pay for all the outings for everyone, but I don’t know if that’s your situation or not.

  100. danr*

    This is wonderful. How about a movies theme one Sunday? I’m a reader, not a movie or film person, but there are some that I’ve come to like over the years, and others that were instant hits.

  101. Relosa*

    I’m a huge, crazy-but-not-actually-crazy* Michael Jackson fan. The fifth anniversary of his death was on Wednesday. In a perfect world, my entire room would be full of every good MJ book I could find.

    Disclaimer: I absolutely will not engage in debates. If you don’t like him, that’s fine. Please just keep scrolling.

    These are ones I strongly recommend:

    Moonwalk (autobiography): obviously ghost-written, but it’s a comfort to read something as he would say it, poor grammar and all. It’s also obvious a few things are embellished, but it’s much easier to understand his narcissism when you “hear” the story of his life and how he operated and what inspired him, from his own perspective. Mostly it’s sweet and charming, and a little heartbreaking – especially some passages about Frankie Lymon, drug use, and addiction. When I read it I always forget that he was my age at the time, not even 30 years old.

    Redemption, by Geraldine Hughes. This is the account of the legal secretary in Barry Rothman’s office during the 1993 fiasco. It’s pretty short, but she is a very spiritual woman and the book is full of legalese and scripture references, so it can be a slow read. It’s also self-published so you can pretty much only find it on Amazon. However, it’s a huge insight into the goings-on of the Chandler family and their practices.

    I can’t mention Redemption without also mentioning “Was Michael Jackson Framed?” by Mary Fisher in a 1994 issue of GQ. The only piece at the time that tried to expose the extortion for what it was. You can buy copies of it on Amazon – with updates and forewords and stuff. And I’m sure there are plenty of fansites that have it posted for free.

    Thriller: The Musical Life of Michael Jackson, by Nelson George. Just freaking awesome in-depth look in to every song on Thriller – the writers, backstory of songs, sampling history, engineering secrets, things like that. Pretty much how each song came together. How a few songs actually pretty much ripped off other ones, way more detail about the story of how Billie Jean was mixed 92 times and they ended up going with #2, things like that. The second part of the book talks about Michael’s later career, but mostly how George intersects with it and it’s a little self-absorbed, but still very interesting. It’s a good book for people who those who are just into the music and not the rest of the insanity, by a writer who knows what he’s doing. I’ll put it this way: I learned a few things from that book, and I consider myself a walking MJ encyclopedia.

    Michael Jackson Conspiracy, by Aphrodite Jones. Also a self-pub, because in the early 2000s no publisher would touch a pro-MJ book. Because of that, she leans a little too hard on the media’s agenda and tries to absolve herself a little too much of whatever nay-saying she’d done in the past – but what she did was go through all the court records of the 2003 case and trial. She herself was in the courtroom much of the time. Again there’s a little too much whining about the mistreatment he received but it’s nice to read everything in one place – I remember following the trial as a teenager and being so overwhelmed.

    There are a ton of other great biographies and essays on him that have nothing to do with his legal life, but I guess this is what’s on my mind as of late :) There are also a ton of crappy ones as well that I’d never touch, so, to each their own.

    *I’m crazy enough to have a tattoo, but believe me I am NOT in one of those bizarre factions like This is Not It, nor am I a death-hoaxer or other conspiracy theorist. I’m so, so sorry that that’s mostly what people think real MJ fans are like – I swear the vast majority of us are sane, rational beings.

  102. V.V.*

    Finished: “Boi No Good”

    Enjoyed: “The Red Headed Hawaiian” though this one is admittedly directed toward younger audiences, it’s a true story and not as harsh as BNG.

    Both by Chris Mckinney.

  103. Jones*

    Crucial Conversations is a great book that I read as often as I think about it. Great advice on how to prepare yourself for meaningful conversations. You cannot help what others do but you can do your part to promote successful conversations.

    The first 90 days by Michael Watkins – starting a new job Monday and been trying to focus on starting it off right!

  104. BritCred*

    For someone who likes adult romance books and also vampires/supernatural I can recommend the Passion Series by J A Melville.

    Relatively new writer who writes so engagingly.

  105. Pussyfooter*

    Wow…just popped in for a look after being away many months and have spent all day here and on the links from here. It’s nice to see some familiar posters.
    (And who knew about that Marion Zimmer Bradley stuff! I’ve gone to Cons in AZ/California and back in the 90’s played SCA–never heard a whisper of gossip about her. Yikes.)

    As for books, I’ve been reading “Napoleon’s Buttons: 17 molecules that changed history,” Jim Hines’ Goblin series (and related new works/short stories), and trying to get my hands on all Lawrence Watt-Evan’s Ethshar series without resorting to crazily priced reprints.

    See you guys!

    1. 22dncr*

      Spriggins!! Love Watt-Evans. Wonder if I have them all? Now you’re going to make me check and then spend $ (;

  106. Katie the Fed*

    Awww, I’m a day late!

    I just finished Zealot by Reza Aslan. It’s a historical (vice religious) examination of the life and times of Jesus of Nazareth. It’s absolutely fascinating and puts a lot of his life and ministry into much broader context, and includes some really interesting bits about the early Church. I’m not particularly religious but I thought it was amazing.

  107. Sascha*

    Currently reading: Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and Battle Angel Alita: Last Order.

    Recommend: Battle Angel Alita, especially the Last Order series. It’s a graphic novel/manga. The story is addicting and the artwork is fantastic.

  108. Puddin*

    Most impact-ful books of my life
    “Encounters with the Archdruid” by John McPhee
    “Ishmael” by Daniel Quinn

    Both these books challenged the education and values that I had been raised with, in a good way. I think they both portray a unique perspective on topics that we are familiar with – at least from our own perspective or from a more mainstream opinion. In short, they are hippie books that every conservative should read.

  109. The Other Dawn*

    Right now I’m reading Mr. Slaughter, third in the Matthew Corbett series by Robert McCammon. Loving it!

    My favorite book is probably Swan Song by Robert McCammon. It’s about a group of people rebuilding the nation after a nuclear apocolypse. It’s the whole good vs. evil thing. Loved it.

  110. KitKat*

    I’ve been steadfastly working my way through “House of Leaves” for over a year now. To clarify: I love this book. It’s like nothing I’ve ever read before, and I find it brilliant in almost every regard. But it is a monumental brain-bender. I can only read a handful of pages before I need to go lie down or something. One day I will finish it, and I will be so happy.

  111. ADE*

    I ask here in part because a lot of frequent commenters discuss their plus-sizeness openly.

    I am getting serious about somebody who is pretty plus-size. To be perfectly honest, the number on the scale is irrelevant to me (I’ll still find him sexy) but what bugs me to no end are his eating habits or lack thereof…. he is overwhelmed with work and by the time he gets home he orders takeout and he doesn’t know how to cook for himself. Lather, rinse, repeat.

    If we end up moving in together I would want him to more or less end this practice of constant takeout, and instead limit eating out to 1-2 times per week. I’ve discussed this with him before in the abstract from a budgetary point of view… he makes more money than I do, if I ever made as much as he does I still wouldn’t spend it on takeout. I believe him to be flexible about how he eats (as in, if I made food he’d eat it) and he’s been super great about choosing affordable restaurants.

    At the moment we’re a visit-on-weekends couple, so going out for meals is fine as a treat. But if I moved in with him, I would want for things to change.

    How do you recommend I approach this topic? I feel like any conversation about “I want us to eat differently” is going to become a conversation about weight.

    If it helps to understand my perspective, I lost about 40 pounds 3 years ago and kept it off by shifting my eating habits over time away from takeout food and the like…. so for me, this is not only an issue of saving money, this is an issue of my weight, too.

    1. pussyfooter*

      Hi ADE,

      There are little conversation templates (ex: I feel-I need-I want process of talking) you can use for framing your ideas calmly and fairly. I’m sure you can find all sorts of these by googling advice on how to have difficult conversations.

      Your post sounds a bit hesitant. This can leave people wondering if there’s more that you aren’t saying (I don’t see anything “between the lines” here, I’m just saying a fearful approach can make people nervous and more likely to jump to negative conclusions).

      When I feel like pussyfooting around a scary issue (yes I speak from experience, here), sometimes brainstorming a list of all my concerns/fears on that one topic will give me 1) clarity on aspects I might not have thought through yet–both overlooked issues that need to be included and non-issues I’d previously worried about 2) structure for how to talk to someone about it and 3) a sense of calm (which is a good place to be if you might spook someone and want to reassure them).

      It’s ok if you care about his health. It’s good that you care about yours. Be clear and kind and talk to him about both.

      1. ADE*

        Thanks for the support — yes, I’m nervous about the whole situation (if we have the conversation, things will be serious, and it will be our first possible point of conflict.)

        I have thought through some possible outcomes of this conversation. At the very least, I can express my intent to eat food that he doesn’t while not asking him to change for my sake.

  112. Nancypie*

    2 books I cannot recommend enough: Bel Canto by Anne Patchett and I Know this Much is True by Wally Lamb.

    1. Jessie*

      What is it that you liked about the Wally Lamb book? (Asking because I haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaated it but seem to be in the minority!)

  113. junipergreen*

    Quite late to this party but LOVING all of the suggestions in this thread.

    Am currently reading The Secret History by Donna Tartt because I loved The Goldfinch. I can’t speak for the former quite yet but adored the latter, it sucked me in and kept me awake many a night.

    I’m also recommending the Robert Galbraith (pseudonym of JK Rowling) detective novels to anyone who will listen. Cuckoo’s Calling and The Silkworm (just released last month) are both stellar, fun and literary mystery romps.

    1. Alice*

      Interesting. I was bored silly by The Goldfinch (and quit after 400+ pages!), which I read only because I liked The Secret History so much!

      But enjoyed the Cuckoo’s Calling quite a bit.

  114. Schuyler*

    Pretty late to this, but wanted to chime in for those who stop here in the future!

    I’m currently reading between a couple of books. Eleanor of Aquitaine: A Life is by Alison Weir. Depending on my mood, I’m also reading Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser. After finishing with these I’m going to start on either She Wolves by Helen Castor or one of my YA novels waiting in the wings.

    One that I think everyone should read is The Power of One. This is possibly my favorite novel. It is by Australian-by-way-of-South-Africa novelist Bryce Courtenay. I find the writing beautiful, as well as the characters. I loved reading about the people that came into the life of the main character, and the impact they had on him. It may take a little while to get into the book for some, but I think many would find it’s worth it. This novel paints beautiful pictures; it was the first one I remember reading where I could see the images in my mind as I read.

    I also love this style of book, called a bildungsroman, which follows a character from childhood through adolescence (To Kill A Mockingbird is another example). The main character is heavily involved in a sport in this book which I absolutely am not interested in, so I expected it to be boring and tortuous to get through any scenes where this dominated. However, the author wrote it in a way that actually made it interesting and didn’t turn me off much at all.

    It’s long, and some may think intimidating. I think it’s worth it. Happy reading!

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