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Showing posts from May, 2022

Book 25 of 52: Italian Neighbours: An Englishman in Verona by Tim Parks

How about a little travel to kick off the summer? I've been sticking to domestic trips lately for obvious reasons, but I'm hoping to go back to Italy in 2023 or 2024. I like it there. I've been twice, once to the Tuscany region, and another time to Rome with a jaunt to Capri, where I had sandals made for me, haggled in bad French with an Italian shopkeeper over a vintage Louis Vuitton bag, and bluffed my way into a nightclub that wanted me to pay a 40 Euro cover charge.  I've also been doing a genealogy project and looking into my Italian roots (yes, really, don't mind my last name), which was partly inspired by a trip to Ellis Island in December. I saw where my great great grandparents, Salvatore and Giuseppina, came into this country and, for better or for worse, you're all now stuck with me - for now. Who couldn't use escaping into another world, even if it's just through a book? Tim Parks, a writer, teacher and translator, moved to Italy with his wif

Book 24 of 52: Rich and Pretty by Rumaan Alam

Sarah and Lauren have been best friends since they were 11 years old, even though that friendship started with a chip in it. Sarah is rich and goes to the pricey New York City private school because that's what people with that much money do. Lauren goes because her mother works for a doctor who tells her about it, and that Lauren could go there on scholarship.  What happens from there is the crux of Rich and Pretty by Rumaan Alam, with the story told around the planning of Sarah's wedding. It's about friendship and how sometimes we hang on too long to people just because they've always been there (during one of their many tiffs, Lauren asks: "Is this friendship or is this a force of habit?")  That can be interesting, but I found this book dull. Sarah and Lauren float through New York City life, they make up, they fight, they come back together again, but nothing really happens except they get older and gradually steer into becoming the people they said they

Book 23 of 52: Because of Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn

More romance? Of course! The world is on fire, and I can't ingest all the fires all the time. Sometimes I want to turn to genre fiction as an escape, even if an escape is into a patriarchal society where it's SCANDAL that a woman sometimes, when riding a horse, wears pants. Because of Miss Bridgerton is the first book in Julia Quinn's Rokesbys Series , which are prequels to her enormously popular  Bridgerton Series  (and now a  Netflix show ). These books are similar, of course, but instead being set in the Recency era of the 1810s, these books take place at the same time as the American Revolution (though still in England).  Here we meet Sybilla "Bille" Bridergton, who is stuck on the roof of a building because she chased a cat up there. She climbed up herself (scandalous woman!) but also twisted her ankle in the process, which is why she needs help to get down.  That help comes from George Rokesby. Their families are neighbors, and they've known each other

Book 22 of 52: Farewell to Manzanar by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James D. Houston

In 2017, I took a four month road trip to see all the 18 states I hadn't been to yet. On my first day, I picked up a Passport to Your National Parks , a blue booklet that lists all 423 locations that the National Park service oversees - not just the big National Parks, but also the national seashores, battlefields, historic monuments, etc. Along that trip - and on many road trips I've taken since since - I've tried to visit as many of these sites as possible, collecting stamps at each one. It's a great way to figure out how to break up long drives - or pick targets, as I often plan trips around getting a few stamps. I'm scheduled to hit the upper midwest late this summer to do just that. I've been to more than 200 sites so far. This quest has of course lead me to see some beautiful places - Yellowstone! Glacier! Grand Teton! But it has also steered me to locations of some of the worst parts of our country's history. In Arkansas, I stood at a critical poin

Book 21 of 52: Miss Dior by Justine Picardie

I'm sure most people reading this book know Dior: the name, the brand, the fashion, the perfume, etc. But that's not what Miss Dior: A Story of Courage and Couture  by Justine Picardie is about. After writing a biography about Coco Chanel , she considering doing one of Christian Dior. Instead, Picardie became much more interested in his sister Catherine. While Christian's creations have captured the hearts and imaginations of generations of people (including myself - I nearly wept when I saw the Bar Suit in December at the now closed Brooklyn Museum's  "Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams" exhibit , which is also where I found this book), Catherine was a true hero. A member of the French Resistance, she was caught, tortured, and imprisoned at the Ravensbr ΓΌ ck concentration camp , where the Nazis murdered at least 50,000 women. Picardie's challenge was that very little is know about Catherine beyond the facts: birth and death dates, position within the resi