"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Monday, August 30, 2021

TTT: Austen Men Ranked

Top Ten Tuesday:
The assignment this week is to name my favorite literary crushes. I've done this assignment several times. See that list here. Instead, today I will rank all of Jane Austen's available men, from most crush-worthy to least. 

These are the men I'm choosing from in my ranking:

Pride and Prejudice

Sense and Sensibility

Northanger Abbey


Mansfield Park



F. Darcy

E Ferrars

H Tilney

G Knightly

E. Bertram


S. Parker

C. Bingley


J. Thorpe

Mr. Elton

H Crawford

W. Elliot

Y. Stringer

G Wickham

Col Brandon


F Churchill




Mr. Collins








My ranking (biggest crush to no crush at all): 

Top Nine:

1. Fitzwilliam Darcy: He's rich and handsome; he becomes a better man; and saves the day.

2. Captain Frederick Wentworth: His love was true over seven years.

3. Henry Tilney: He stood up to his terrible father at great cost.

4. Col. Brandon: rich, devoted, and selfless.

5. Edward Ferrars: bumbling but sweet; does the right thing in the end.

6. George Knightley: like a big brother until confessions of love.

7. Edmund Bertram: kind to his cousin when his family wasn't; admitted he was wrong.

8. Young Stringer: kind; hard worker; interested in further education (But I'm not sure this character was an actual character in the portion of Sanditon that JA wrote.)

9. Charles Bingley; kind and bumbling but easily swayed by sisters.

Bottom nine:

10. Henry Crawford: I believe he really did love Fanny Price but didn't know how to comport himself.

11. Sidney Parker: Snobbish, yet comes around to being quite charming, before he 'takes one for the team.'

12. Frank Churchill: Not a bad guy, just a guy with a big secret.

13.  John Willoughby: I know he truly loved Marianne but had to abandon her for his greater love for money.

14. Mr. Collins: weak and sniveling but not mean.

15. William Elliot: He was after a title and willing to use his cousin to get it.

16. George Wickham: a liar and a cheat, but apparently quite personable. 

17. Mr. Elton: mean, thoughtless, and little; held a grudge.

18. John Thorpe: a liar and a cheat, but not personable.




Top left to right: 5, 4, 1, 2, 6, 3, 7, 8, 9

Bottom left to right: 14, 10, 18, 11, 13, 16, 17, 12, 15

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Sunday Salon, the last of August 2021

Wine grapes at Chateau Ste. Michelle winery

The temperature has come down this week, in fact it even rained one day. It was the first day I remember it raining in months. Egads. It is dry around here. Not good.

The case of the howling dog: Bingley, our Cavalier King Charles Spaniel has never howled a day in his life. That is until this past week. I was listening to the YouTube video (below and linked) of a group of individuals performing John Lennon's "Imagine". I was thinking about how lovely it would be if we could all live in peace -- none of this anti-mask, anti-vaxx nonsense -- when Bingley started crying. I looked at him, worried that something was wrong. Just then he sat up and howled with his head thrown up high (just like that quintessential picture of a wolf.) The song was playing and Bingley was howling his sad lament. He howled for about a minute with me looking on in startled silence. Then he looked around, huffed, laid down and closed his eyes. I'm pretty sure he was crying for the sad state of our country right now, too. Song sung. Time for a nap!

I don't know about you but I can barely watch the news any longer. All the news is bad -- fires, politics, COVID infections, Afghanistan. But in the midst of all this bad stuff I have gleaned a few choice nuggets of good news these past few weeks. Click the links if you want to read more about each of these stories.

Enjoying a bottle of Reserve Le Rosé prior to the concert.

First date night in over 18 months:
Don and I went to an outdoor event at the Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery for a Josh Groban concert. We bought a bottle of wine, a limited Rose. It is a winery, so why not? We brought a picnic of crackers, cheese, grapes, pistachios, and cookies which we nibbled on during the evening. It was so good. So, so good. Linked below is a video of Josh singing one of my favorite songs, "She" which I'd never heard him sing before.  As we sat in our seats waiting for the concert to begin, a nightly ritual was unfolding above us with the nightly migration of crows heading back to the UW-Bothell campus nearby where they roost every night. This is no small thing. As many as 16,000 birds flew overhead heading to their night digs from wherever they were during the day. It takes a long time for that many birds to fly over and I was captivated watching them. Read about it here. (UW-Bothell/Crows)

Great-grandma Kay: Don's father's wife came for a visit this week to meet Jamie, who is nearly one-year-old. COVID has kept us apart but now with vaccines we are feeling a bit freer to open up our home and to start visiting those we haven't seen in such a long time. Ian, age three, was in rare form delighting all. At one point he went upstairs to get grandpa to come down to help prepare dinner. He was gone a long time. When he came down he explained that he'd been writing stuff and he had to go back and finish his work. The document, which he typed, and the illustration of a butterflies he drew are not only priceless, but hilarious.


  • Recently completed:
    • The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. #1 book in the Chronicles of Narnia series. This is my fifth or sixth time reading it. Read my review here.
    • Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri. The 2000 Pulitzer Prize winner. A collection of stories about the emotional journeys of characters seeking love beyond the barriers of nations and generations. Watch this space for my review soon. 
    • The Creator's Canvas by Stephen Payne. A beautiful coffee table book that was given to us many years ago when Don was diagnosed with cancer. It was a delightful, photographic look at the seven days of creation.
    • The Tale of Kitty in Boots by Beatrix Potter. The text of this unpublished story written in 1914 surfaced in 2015. It was illustrated by Quentin Blake. The story was Potter but her familiar beloved illustrations were sorely missed.
    • Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Boy by Tony Medina. Thirteen poems, plus one, written by Medina with thirteen contributions by illustrators. Big take away. Black boys are boys. They love the same stuff as any boy!
    • It Began With a Page: How Gyo Fugikawa Drew the Way by Kyo Maclear. An illustrated biography about the first artist to include illustrations of children from multiple races on the same page in children's books. I recognize some of her illustrations.
    • Many other children's books I checked out with Ian when we returned to the library this past week.
  • Currently reading:
    • The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich. A book club selection. I'm listening to the audiobook and the going is slow, though I do appreciate Erdrich's story-telling ability. 
    • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. A reread for Austen in August. I'm reading the illustrated version with illustrations from Hugh Thompson. It's been many, many years since I read this favorite and I've watched the movies so many times I've forgotten some of the details the movies leave out.
    • Wade in the Water: Poems by Tracy K. Smith.
  • Most influential book I've ever read: read my answer at this link here.
  • First time back inside a library since March 2020. See what books I got while there. Link is here. 
  • Ten books I wish I could read again for the first time.

Future peach pie:
We had to deal with a box of peaches this morning before they went over to the winey or moldy side. I whipped up one jar of peach pie filling to freeze for a future pie. Maybe something to enjoy in November or December?

 Funnies for the week:

Or in my case, I can't hear as well with my mask on.

It's not too late to donate: Our church is collecting school supplies for students from low income families in our area. If you would like to donate, go to this Amazon link page. Shop. Have items mailed to me (It is the default address or you can choose it.) I'll make sure they get to the right spot in time for distribution. SOTH Deacon's School Supply shopping list . Thanks for chipping in if you can!

Required photos of grandsons and grand-cats:

These boys, who both have a birthday in the next two weeks, found a new playground for fun.

Fred posing; George behind blinds attacking Fred; George makes TV viewing difficult.

No Sunday Salon for me next week. We'll be partying with two birthday boys instead!


Friday, August 27, 2021


I'm such a fan I purchased a complete hard cover set of the series, The Chronicles of Narnia

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

Book Beginnings quote: 

Once there were four children whose names were Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy. This story is about something that happened to them, when they were sent away from London during the war because of the air-raids.

Friday56 quote: 

"Here we are," said Mr. Beaver, "and it looks as if Mrs. Beaver is expecting us. I'll lead the way. Be careful and don't slip."

Summary: This is the first book in the marvelous Chronicles of Narnia series published by C.S. Lewis in 1950. The four Pevensie children accidentally find a portal from our world into Narnia through a wardrobe in the old Professor's house where they are staying throughout the war. Narnia is a magical land where some of the animals talk. Right now it isn't a very nice place, though, because it is ruled by the wicked White Witch who has made it always winter and never Christmas. Lucy is the first to enter Narnia where she meets a nice faun, Mr. Tumnus. When she returns through the portal no one believes her and where she says she has been. Then both Lucy and Edmund go through the portal separately and Edmund meets the White Witch. He is bewitched by her and the Turkish delight she gives him to eat. Lastly all four of the children enter Narnia together, not knowing that they have a traitor among them. But this time something has changed. Aslan, the great lion, is on the move. Will he be able to save the children from the clutches of the witch?

Review: I first read this book when I was in elementary school in the late 1960s. It, and the whole series, have been a favorite of mine ever since. Last week when I pondered the answer for the question asked by Deb Nance at Reader Buzz, 'What is the most influential book I've ever read?" I settled on this series as my answer. Here is a link to my answer so you can understand my thinking as to its influence on me. It is possible that this is my sixth time through the book, perhaps only the fifth, but I have enjoyed it equally every time I've read it. The last time through was in 2005 in preparation for the release of the movie so it was time for a reread for sure.

If you haven't read the series, I recommend that you read the books in the order that Lewis published them. The American publisher somewhere along the way has decided to reorder them into chronological order of the story, placing The Magician's Nephew at the head of the line. But, as a reader, you understand that sometimes the prequel (or back story) is best placed after parts of the story are already told and then the prequel fills in the details causing the reader to stop and exclaim, "Oh, that is how that happened." Read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe first. If you have an elementary aged child at home, read it aloud with them.

What are some of your memories with this book and series?

Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Rose City ReaderShare the opening quote from current book.
e Friday56 is hosted at Freda's VoiceFind a quote from page 56 to share. 

Visit these two websites to participate. Click on links to read quotes from books other people are reading. It is a great way to make blog friends and to get suggestions for new reading material.   

Preferred order to read the books in the series, by publication date:

1. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (1950)
2. Prince Caspian (1951)
3. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952)
4. The Silver Chair (1953)
5. A Horse and His Boy (1954)
6. The Magician's Nephew (1955)
7. The Last Battle (1956)


Saturday, August 21, 2021

The Single Most Influential Book I've Ever Read

A blogging friend, Deb Nance @ Reader Buzz, asked a question this week: "What single book was for you the most influential book you have read?"

Deb Nance said she was challenged to answer this question by a 1994 Internet posting called One Book List. The instigator of that project, Paul Phillips, started it this way: "My proposal is this: I would like for each of you to decide on a single book that you would most like for the world to read for inclusion in the list. The book that, for you, was the most influential, or thought-provoking, or enjoyable, or moving, or philosophically powerful, or deep in some sense you cannot properly define, or any other criteria you wish to set." Ultimately over 800 titles were added to the One Book List. Of course, that was long ago, and the information about the One Book List is only available now through the Wayback Machine here. The One Book List itself can be found here. I started looking through it, got overwhelmed and stopped by the time I got to the end of 'A" submissions.

But the seed was planted. What is the single most influential book I've ever read? For obvious reasons my brain immediately went to the Bible. But when I looked at the titles on the One Book List all the books seemed to be novels. So I decided that yes, the book that has influenced me the most it the Bible, but what is my One Book Novel?

At first I decided the task was impossible. How could I identify just one novel above all other special books? Then I decided that I would identify one special book from important periods of my life: Green Eggs and Ham from my young childhood, A Wrinkle in Time from my tween years, and Cold Sassy Tree as the book that brought me back to reading after a long hiatus, all came to my mind. All were important in my development but were not that influential. Was there a book which stood for all parts of me during all seasons of my life?

Then it hit me. Of course there was one book (series) that fit that bill -- The Chronicles of Narnia. (Yes, yes. I know it is seven books, but it is ONE series.)

I was around eleven or twelve when a friend of the family gave (loaned?) me the Chronicles of Narnia set. My father was a missionary at the time and we lived in Liberia, West Africa. As a kid raised in the church I knew the resurrection story but when I read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe Aslan's death at the hands of the White Witch and his resurrection made the Bible and the message of the gospel come to life for me. "When a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor's stead... then Death itself could start working backwards."

I reread the series some time as a teenager when I was very active in my church youth group and living a life of faith.

As a young mother I read the Chronicles of Narnia to my children who were probably around five and eight at the time. I still recall snuggling on the bed with them as we'd read a chapter or two before turning out the lights each night. My youngest daughter, who was just learning to read, would take a pad of paper and scribble words on it as I read. If I turned the page too soon she'd stop me, "I haven't finished writing it down, yet." Such precious, precious memories. When I shared this memory with my husband yesterday he asked if I ever discussed the religious allegories with the girls. I might have. I don't remember. What I do remember was all the love that was shared during those moments with the books.

The three of us reread the series when the girls were older. We decided we wanted to reread the books before the movies came out. The first one I recorded on Goodreads of the set was The Voyage of the Dawn Treader in 2010, so it is likely we read the first and second books in the series before I was using that site to keep track of my books/reading choices. Once again we'd cuddle together but this time all three of us would take turns reading aloud. Memories of us spending time together reading during a family vacation at Whistler come flooding back to me as I think about the series. We were all leading busy lives and the upcoming movies never materialized after the third book. But we eventually finished the last book together, The Last Battle, in 2013. It was a project of love and community that lasted us years.

My younger daughter is especially fond of The Chronicles of Narnia and has read the series by herself on at least one occasion. When a whole set of first (or second) edition hardcovers came available at a secondhand book shop, I bought those for myself and gave Carly my old paperbacks. We are both purists and believe that the books need to be read in the order that C.S. Lewis wrote them, starting with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (1950), not The Magician Nephew (1955). It irks us that some publisher decided that the books should appear in chronological order and I believe if one does start with the sixth book, it will wreck the magic for the reader. Just sayin'.

My hardcover set of The Chronicles of Narnia in the correct order 😉

C.S. Lewis said he did not write his series as a Christian allegory but more as a 'supposal.' (Love that word.) He said,

I’m not exactly “representing” the real (Christian) story in symbols. I’m more saying “Suppose there were a world like Narnia and it needed rescuing and the Son of God (or the ‘Great Emperor oversea’) went to redeem it, as He came to redeem ours, what might it, in that world, all have been like?” Perhaps it comes to much the same thing as you thought, but not quite. -Letters to Children

And in his NYT essay, "Sometimes Fairy Stories May Say Best What's To Be Said," Lewis wrote:

Some people seem to think that I began by asking myself how I could say something about Christianity to children; then fixed on the fairy tale as an instrument; then collected information about child-psychology and decided what age-group I’d write for;  then drew up a list of basic Christian truths and hammered out ‘allegories’ to embody them. This  is  all pure moonshine. I couldn’t write in that way at all. Everything began with images; a  faun carrying an umbrella, a queen on a sledge, a magnificent lion. At first there wasn’t even anything Christian about them; that element pushed itself in of its own accord. . . . I thought I saw how stories of this kind could steal past a certain inhibition which had paralyzed much of my own religion in childhood. Why did one find it so hard to feel as one was told one ought to feel about God or about the sufferings of Christ? I thought the chief reason was that one was told one ought to. An obligation to feel can freeze feelings. And reverence itself did harm. But supposing that by casting all these things into an imaginary world, stripping them of their stained-glass and Sunday school associations, one could make them for the first time appear in their real potency? Could one not thus steal past those watchful dragons? I thought one could.

Right now our pastor is preaching a sermon series at church about the power of stories to help us understand the messages of the gospel. This quote from Lewis certainly mentions this as it discusses the power that a fairy story has on expressing ideas that otherwise seem too far away and holy to totally embrace.

So there it is -- my ONE most influential book (series) --  'The Chronicles of Narnia' by C.S. Lewis.

What about you?

What single book was for you the most influential, or thought-provoking, or enjoyable, or moving, or philosophically powerful, or deep in some sense that you cannot properly define, or any other criteria you wish to set? 

Let's hear your thoughts in the comments below!


Thursday, August 19, 2021


The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

Book Beginnings quote: 

Prologue: Lale tries not to look up. He reaches out to take the piece of paper being handed to him. He must transfer the five digits onto the girl who held it.

Friday56 quote: 

What has he done? He has placed prisoner 34902 in danger. He is protected. She is not. And still, he wants, needs, to take the risk.

Summary: Lale (pronounced Lolly), a Jewish man, is transported to Auschwitz-Birchenau from Slovakia in 1942. Since he has such good language skills he is trained to be the tattooist, marking the arms of survivors of the selection process with a number assigned by the Germans. One day he looks up as a woman offers her scrap of paper with th number on it and her wrist for tattooing. In that moment of human connection Lale knows he must meet this woman and get to know her. He eventually learns that her name is Gita. Because of his privileged position as the tattooist he is able to secure Gita a job in the administration. It was still a dangerous job but one where survival was more likely. Against all odds and many horrors both Gita and Lale do survive and both make their way back home to Slovakia where they eventually find each other and can finally get married. This book is their love story. A love story framed around the horrors of the most inhumane acts of a war ever -- the Holocaust.

Review: The Tattooist of Auschwitz was a book club selection. It is based on a true story about real people. Even before I started reading it, many gals in the club were already raving about the book in person and on social media. For some reason, I felt less enthusiastic about the book. I liked the love story born out of the despair of the Holocaust, but some of the details of the story didn't jive with what I knew about events at Auschwitz, and other concentration camps and I felt skepticism creeping in to my brain. Later I read that I was not alone, that others, including the board members at the Holocaust Museum, were critical of the lack of attention to details. One inaccurate detail that really stood out was the number that Lale supposedly inked onto Gita's arm. It was five digits, but based on when she arrived at the camp, the number would have been four digits. (NYT)

In the author's notes, Heather Morris talks about how she had to play with details to make the story cohesive. It isn't a memoir, after all, it is a fictional accounting of a love story born in a concentration camp. The bones of the events are true and the details were added to move the story along. Conversations, timelines, characters were invented to tell Lale and Gita's love story. And it is a good one. Where some horrors were downplayed, others were in full view. One aspect of the story that I've always wondered about came into clearer focus for me...how could Jewish men and women could participate in the horrors of the concentration camps? Lale had to grapple with that himself. Was he complicit since he participated in the machine that destroyed and dehumanized so many millions of people? One way that Lale coped with his dilemma was to use his position to get goods and food to share with others to assist in the survival as many people as he could. Kindnesses offered were often returned later. We talked about this aspect of the story for quite a while during our book discussion.

In the balance The Tattooist of Auschwitz falls on the positive side of things. It is a loving story for sure, one that encourages hope and kindness and highlights the many ways we can make the world a better place for everyone, even in the midst of terrible circumstances.  

Lale and Gita. Photo taken many years after their ordeal during the war.

Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Rose City ReaderShare the opening quote from current book.
e Friday56 is hosted at Freda's VoiceFind a quote from page 56 to share. 

Visit these two websites to participate. Click on links to read quotes from books other people are reading. It is a great way to make blog friends and to get suggestions for new reading material.   


  1. 20-Book Summer Challenge: 18/20
  2. Audiobook Challenge: 25/25