Monday, October 25, 2021

October RWLB

 It's full-blown fall around here (finally) and we are ready with our costumes and trick-or-treating buckets. I just got back from an early anniversary/birthday trip with my husband to lovely Montreal and I'm feeling refreshed and ready to enjoy the last couple of months before New Year. 


Reading

Infinite Jest

A friend and I started reading Infinite Jest as a buddy read. It is long and complex and sometimes my brain hurts after reading a few pages. But we are sticking with it because it's going to be a great accomplishment and there is certainly a thread of genius in the pages.

I read it this weekend and found myself vacillating between wanting to throw it and chuckling audibly. We are 300 pages in and there's no turning back now. 


Matrix

This is the book we chose for book club for November. You guys, it is weird. But it is brilliant. There are some sentences that are searing and some that are so gorgeous I feel required to just sit still and let the words wash over me.


So, what's it about, you ask...well, it's about a real nun, Marie de France in the 1100s. There are themes of power, feminism, the LGBTQ experience, and faith. It's around 250 pages and that is a lot of ground to cover. The author, Lauren Groff, has done her research and crafted a story that moves fluidly and is oddly compelling considering the time period and the setting. I'm halfway through and hooked.



Watching

Only Murders in the Building

If we've ever had a conversation about movies then you would know that I am a HUGE Steve Martin fan. His rapport with Martin Short over the years has made for some of my all-time favorite movies (Father of the Bride and The Three Amigos). When I saw they were staring in a murder mystery TV show on Hulu, I finally caved and got the subscription. 


My husband and I were obsessed. It was appointment TV in the way of ER and Friends. We talked about our theories, funny lines, and how much we loved it. 


We just watched the season finale and I'm gearing up to rewatch all the episodes. I can't wait for season 2!!!


The Great British Baking Show

I used to be a big fan of reality TV like Survivor and The Amazing Race. But the only reality TV I watch now is The Great British Baking Show. The hosts are hysterical, Paul and Pru are exacting, and the contestants are warm and endearing. This show is pure delight and there are so many seasons to binge. We are watching the most recent one right now and it is fantastic. 


If you need me after 9:30pm on a chilly fall evening, I'm probably in bed, with Baking Show on and my knitting spread out over my lap. There may be a mug of bedtime tea on my nightstand, too. It's all very cozy.


Listening to

The Bible Binge

This episode of the Bible Binge speaks to my childhood in such a real way. My family skipped Halloween except for two times: once when I was 4 I dressed up as an angel for a church Bible character parade and another time in middle school when I was Queen Esther for yet another Bible character costume party suspiciously close in date to Halloween. 


I like what the hosts say about the fact that most holidays are tied to some sort of pagan tradition and if we're going to get rid of Halloween, we should also look carefully at Easter and Christmas. And they also reminded their audience that if we keep our lights out on Halloween night we miss an opportunity to connect with our neighbors. It's definitely worth a listen.


Buying

Sorel Boots

In Montreal, I laced up my sneakers for days spent exploring the city and wandering in the art museum. I began to notice the preferred footwear of city dwellers and hip tourists was boots, flat, usually pull on, with rubber soles. 

I went on a mission to find some for myself. 

Mabel, from Only Murders, wears a super cute pair of these boots too. I googled them and discovered they were from Stella McCartney and ran somewhere close to $400. That's too rich for my blood. 

I kept looking and eventually found a cute pair from Sorel, a little more moderately priced. I snagged them on a recent sale and now I'll be ready for my next adventure in the city or just looking cute at the grocery store. 


Olive and June Winter Colors

I LOVE Olive and June nail color. I used to be an essie girl, but now I exclusively paint my nails with Olive and June. Their manicure set changed my life at the beginning of the pandemic. Pretty nails give me so much joy!

Each season they roll out a set of nail colors. This morning they released their winter collection and at 6 am, in my pitch-black bedroom, I ordered the set. The colors look perfect for holiday parties, cozy times at home, and Christmas decorating!


These are my RWLB this month...What are you reading, watching, listening to, and buying this month? Leave a comment below.

Saturday, October 2, 2021

👻A Very Spooky Book List 👻

Fall and winter reading is my favorite reading all year. The ubiquitous summer book guides and buzz over beach reading can give it a rest. Give me a fire, a hot drink, a soft blanket, slippers, and a big book while the weather rages outside my window (think chill winds, rainstorms, bitter cold, and snow) and I am a happy girl. I mean, it's hibernation season, right?

Add a book and it me


When the air turns crisp and the first leaf falls from the trees in my backyard, I know what I will be reading for the forseeable future. Spooky books! 


Bring on the witches, the ghosts, the creepy vibes! Fall is officially here!

One of my favorite SNL sketches


My Fall TBR

This fall I'm planning to read Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno Garcia which I've heard so many people rave about. 



I'll also be picking up The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allen Poe to read along with the Novel Pairings patreon group


I've been meaning to get to We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson for ages. I've been told this short classic will scare my pants off. I can't wait!

Creepy Covers are Catnip



Tense Mysteries


Anthony Horowitz books always keep me reading past my bedtime. I LOVED Magpie Murders with my whole heart and would recommend starting with that one. 


If We Were Villians is a story that starts with one of the characters getting out of prison and you spend the novel looking back and hearing his version of what happened. His telling of past events is a twisty ride into the darkness that can creep into a group of friends at college. The reader tries to figure out what the crime is and who committed it in this book that is saturated with the dark academia aesthetic. 


I listened to The Death of Mrs. Westaway and could not stop it for even a second. I had to know what was going to happen, how it was all going to come together. Ruth Ware has a few other mysteries that have sucked me in and but this one stands out in that I perfectly recall listening to it while making dinner, weeding the garden, and going to the bathroom. 



Creepy Gothic Vibes

I read The Picture of Dorian Gray last year and was impressed with how thought provoking this classic turned out to be. If you need likable characters, you should probably skip this one, but if not, this could fit the bill for a creeptastic October read. 


The Veronica Speedwell Series reliably meets my creepy gothic needs. Veronica is a young woman in London in 1887 trying to figure out a mystery. She is smart, funny, and adventurous. These books will not make you terrified, but it's a solid series set in an era of big skirts and odd manners that endears you to the characters and wraps you up in the setting and plot until you get reality and fiction confused. Start at the beginning with A Curious Beginning.


Tried and true classics might benefit from a re-read this season. Jane Eyre does not disappoint and Frankenstein is a classic for a reason. Also, The Island of Dr. Moreau and Sherlock Holmes short stories are good for a little spine-tingling fun in front of a fire. 



Ghosts and Witches

In the vein of Scooby-Doo, Riley Sager has been pumping out scary reads every year for the last few years. My favorite was probably Home Before Dark and a close second would be Lock Every Door.


We Ride Upon Sticks is a hilarious and nostalgic novel about a field hockey team that calls on dark forces to help them win. It's kind of long, but totally worth it, especially if you grew up in the '80s and will get the references to what it was like being a teenager at that time. 



The Night Watchman is gorgeous literary fiction with ghosts. This one will not scare you in the traditional sense (the mistreatment of Native American women and attempts by the US government to end Native American culture are probably the scariest parts), but it would make for a great read in the fall. 


If you're looking for a middle-grade ghost story, my favorite is The Greenglass House. It takes place in a creepy old smuggler's inn that hasn't seen many guests lately. All of sudden, on a very cold, inhospitable night, a guest arrives. It is a wild ride from that point on.


Circe is a non-traditional witch story that feels very fall-ish. Circe is a witch banished to an island after she offends the gods in Ancient Greece. I loved this feminist retelling and as with any book related to Greek gods and goddesses, there were lots of dark themes and storylines. 


Unsettling AF

Ok...so these books leave you unsettled. Freaked out. Bothered. They are not for everyone, but if you like this type of novel then you'll love these. They ask big questions of society and the self and they do it by taking something conventional (vactation! motherhood! marriage!) and turning it upside down and inside out. 


The Push and The Need were both bananas. I couldn't stop turning pages but sometimes I was afraid of what I would read next.



Leave the World Behind made me uncomfortable (and even a little confused at times). Rumaan Alam did an excellent job writing an entire book that produces the feeling of a pit in your stomach for every single page. 


The Harpy is about a couple who deals with the husband's infidelity by striking a strange deal, a deal that will change both the husband and wife and reader by the time the book is closed. 



These books are well-written and interesting, don't get me wrong. But they are also complex, nuanced, and striking so they make for a very particular reading experience. 


I can't wait to curl up by the fire with a stack of books beside me and a mug of hot apple cider on the coffee table. The last year and a half have been so challenging that I think I've become really good at getting cozy to offset the way the world around me feels. This season I'll be using all my best cozy skills for my spooky reading time each evening. 


What are some of your favorite fall reads of the past? What do you plan on reading this spooky season?