Bits and Bobs (the book edition)


Miss Buncle wrote other books
You may recall my delight (and perhaps your own) with Miss Buncle’s Book by D.E. Stevenson. I loved that book from cover to cover. The follow-up Miss Buncle Married was nowhere near as amusing or original but I still enjoyed reading it. After reading the first of the Buncles I went online and bid on a bunch of DE Stevenson novels despite having been warned by one of you that most, if not all, of her non-Buncle fiction was pretty much just straightforward romantic novels set in the Scottish lowlands. And behold, I give you Sarah’s Cottage. A straightforward romantic novel set in the Scottish lowlands. This is a novel where everything always ends up just the way it should and where every character has two dimensions whether he or she needs the second one or not. Lots of breathless excitement and despair! (That is an ironic exclamation point.) And like Miss Buncle, lots of feverish book writing into the wee hours of the morning leading to a book that becomes a hit and goes into a third printing before being published in America. And like Miss B, it was published under a pseudonym as well. One thing I love to hate (and I think Nevil Shute does this as well) is when authors insert a character’s name into dialogue in places that don’t seem plausible. Who knows maybe it used to be so, but I find this awkward. For instance, if you were having a conversation with me and I asked: “Would you like to come to tea?” would you answer: “I’d love to come.” Or would you answer “I’d love to come, Thomas.” And in the same conversation would you also say “Do you want children of your own, Thomas?” or “Do you find it difficult, Thomas?” or “Is ‘Beric’ a family name, Thomas?” There are only two of us in the room. You don’t need to keep addressing me by name. I know who you are talking to. There is no confusion.

Still, if you want a cozy story where even the bad stuff exists only so you can be happy later, then you should pick up some non-Buncles.

I think I loathe D.H. Lawrence
I am 111 pages into Women in Love, the third Lawrence novel I have read, and I really think I hate it, and in retrospect have hated every word of Lawrence I have ever read.  I wish I could explain why. I find it tedious and detached and depressing. I think Lawrence could have used some meds. Maybe if I read 10 pages a day I can hold my nose and finish it.

Joseph Conrad seems to be thinking about hopping on the Loathe Train as well
First Heart of Darkness, and now The Secret Agent. In comparison, I prefer Conrad to Lawrence, but I can’t say that I have enjoyed reading him. I will say that I kind of enjoy every other paragraph of Conrad. I will find myself enjoying the story for a minute, but then something about his prose style makes me glaze over and wonder if I should clip my nails or do the dishes. Unlike Lawrence, however, I could actually see myself picking up another Conrad novel, if just to cross Lord Jim off the Modern Library list.

A lame, gay, two-fer
While England Sleeps is the David Leavitt novel that became notorious because Stephen Spender thought that it resembled his memoirs a little too much. Leavitt claims he was inspired by Spender’s life, but I think that some of the similarities that Spender pointed out are a little too close to not suspect monkey business on Leavitt’s part. This book had more than a few flaws but I must admit I found it enjoyable and even quite emotional in a place or two. I think I even teared up a bit at one point.

The second gay book I read was Felice Picano’s The Book of Lies. Remember when I busted Julia Glass’ butt over all of the inaccuracies and dubious notions in her book The Whole World Over? Well this is the gay version of that critique. Different in details, but the same sloppy mind. Perhaps the most egregious error was the notion that someone could go pick up a baby at the airport. That is, one of the characters would go to JFK to pick up babies that had been sent from Central America. Really? The INS has a counter with a bunch of unaccompanied babies in bassinets just waiting to be picked up like a piece of lost luggage? ARE YOU SERIOUS?  How about a PhD candidate teaching a summer session and the students (and others) all call him professor. I have three degrees from three universities, and I never heard a grad student called professor in any context. And then the author has the notion that a mechanism exists that will control the speed of your car. Picano posits that for a stretch of familiar road with varying speed limits his character’s car has a speed governor that can be preset to change when the speed limit changes. In 2000 I drove across the country in a moving van that had a speed governor and the only thing it did was keep me from being able to go faster than 65 mph. A cruise control requires that manually set it each time the speed limit changes. And a GPS unit can tell me what the speed limit is and what my speed is, but it sure can’t automatically make my car go that speed. And even if that did exist on some model of car I am unfamiliar with, it sure didn’t exist in 1998.

Too Good to Miss: Marge Piercy
Although the title made for a few self-conscious Metro rides, I thoroughly enjoyed The Longings of Women by Marge Piercy. This is the fourth Piercy book I have read and I have liked all of them (this one probably the least so). They all have multiple women, usually in the Boston area, who are building their lives after some sort of male perpetrated malfeasance. They are warm, smart, realistic but ultimately uplifting, and never feel like male bashing. One of the characters in this one gives a very believable account of what it would be like to be homeless after a long marriage ends in divorce. More of you should be reading her. Try Three Women, The Third Child, Fly Away Home, or The Longings of Women.

Bits and Bobs (the "it’s been a long time" edition)

Upset c.1887
Joseph Decker (1853-1924)
de Young Museum, San Francisco

Scanner Wars and Sunday Painting
It has been a while since I have done a Bits and Bobs. But it has been an even longer time since I have done a Sunday Painting. You may remember several months ago when I wrote about getting into a physical altercation with my scanner/printer. Well, I wasn’t kidding and I only just now have replaced it. Actually John got if for me for Christmas (rewarding bad behavior) but it took a while to arrive and I finally decided to hook it up this weekend. (“Hook it up” isn’t the right phrase considering it is wireless.)

So in honor of having a scanner again, I decided to revive Sunday Painting, my occasional feature where I post a scan of one of the many art postcards I have collected over the years. How ironic then, that my first one out of the gate is one that I didn’t actually scan. I fell in love with this painting at first sight. If I could own and hang in my house one work of art that is currently in a major collection, it would be this one. Kind of a strong statement given all the amazing art I could choose from, but there is something about this painting that makes me covet it. Maybe it is because the de Young Museum which owns it, doesn’t provide a postcard of this little lovely, and the artist is relatively obscure and I can’t find a color image in any book that makes me want to own the real thing so badly.  And just look at the image itself. Similar to my taste in fiction, I love paintings with lots of detail of mundane objects and subjects. Can you just imagine the owner of this box of candy?

This poster is celebrating its Diamond Jubilee
Should the Queen be getting all the attention? Well, perhaps more than a poster. And to be perfectly truthful, this poster won’t have its Diamond Jubilee until next year. Since it is the Queen’s accession to the throne that is at the 60-year mark, not her 1953 coronation, this poster, has to wait until next year to really celebrate. But when you think about it, that is probably a good idea. The poster won’t have to share the limelight with all the Queen’s festivities. (And I did use the new scanner for this image.)

Poster designed by Gordon Nicholl
National Railway Museum, York

Will I get Jubilee-fever when I am in England?
A few months ago John and I were pondering our travel schedule for the year and we decided to go somewhere for about eight days in the May/June time frame. Being the kook that I am, I almost love planning travel more than doing it, so running through the list of options once dates are chosen is perhaps one of my favorite things in life. After sifting through the possibilities on our very long wish list, and balancing them against our plans for next year, we soon settled on a trip to England. We thought it would be a great time for John to see some gardens. It seems the only time we ever make it to England these days is over the Veteran’s Day holiday and gardens aren’t quite as interesting in the cold, foggy days of November as they are in the Spring.

All of this is prelude to say that I wasn’t even thinking of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee or the possibilities of related events and exhibits when we bought our plane tickets. But then last week I came upon this post by Meg at Pigtown Design just up the road in Baltimore all about the Jubilee and some of the events surrounding it. Like one at the V&A of Cecil Beaton portraits of the Queen. But that ends in April. Shoot. I suppose I could go up to Leed’s which is where it goes next, but that is too far off our itinerary. Or I could try the Diamond Jubilee Pageant at Windsor Castle, but that really isn’t my cup of tea. The one I really, really want to see is an exhibition of her diamonds at Buckingham Palace. But that doesn’t start until the end of June.

Queen Victoria’s Small Diamond Crown

Thankfully there is The Queen: Art and Image at the National Portrait Gallery (one of my favorite museums in London) that will actually be running while we are there.

Lightness of Being, 2007
Christine Levine

And speaking of Baltimore (and queens)
Last night we watched The Filthy World. A one-man show by Baltimore’s most infamous native son, John Waters. Everyone knows that he is the genius behind the film Hairspray. But some may not know that he is the king of really filthy films that are all about really bad taste and have been banned and censored all over the world. Well, his one-man show is hilarious. Waters is brilliant and talks non-stop for an hour and half going over the highlights of his childhood and career. But please, unless you know about the early John Waters and his penchant for the irreverent and filthy, do not rent this one. Or don’t say that you weren’t warned.

But where are the books?
It has been a while since I posted a book review and I am not sure when that is going to change. My reviews have never really approached the standards of real book reviews, (Hmm, why don’t we hyphenate that? I bet it was at some point. Isn’t the noun “book” serving as an adjective? Teresa, what say you?) being more like personal musings on my reading experience. But I think I may be at a point where I don’t feel like writing them. Originally I started doing them so I would better remember what I had read. But I could do that without trying to turn them into reviews. My work has taken a very interesting, but brain-intensive turn (more on that in the weeks to come) that makes me want to turn off a bit more at night rather than trying to provide analysis or description of what I am reading. I think I may come up with some abbreviated format that frees up time for posts like this one and more time for reading.

Bits and Bobs (now with extra sand)


Reading on the beach in Hawaii
When I lived in Hawaii in the mid-1990s my beach reading of choice was the The New Yorker. Not only did it keep me in touch with what was happening in the real world (the world wide web was nascent to say the least), but it is the perfect format for beach reading. All of the articles are printed on contiguous pages so there is no flipping to the back of the magazine to continue an article. It sounds like a small thing, but it really makes it so much easier to read on a beach with all the sand and sunscreen that can muck up the pages. We are headed to Hawaii this winter (haven’t been back there since 2001) and I need to come up with my reading pile. Since the trip is during the TBR Dare I could only pick from the pile I wrote about earlier which thankfully wasn’t a problem. I made sure I included enough used paperbacks in that pile so that I wouldn’t mind if the books got a little trashed on the beach.  I think I am going to take along According to Mark by Penelope Lively, one of the two Elinor Lipman novels in my pile, Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry and either Armadale by Wilkie Collins or Dickens’ Little Dorritt.  That will definitely cover me for quantity and I hope also for variety. After all there is about 10 hours of flying time each direction as well.

Apologies to Salman Rushdie
In my post a few days ago about my TBR Dare pile for the first three months of 2012 I made a snarky comment about Salman Rushdie. For some reason I have had it in my head that Rushdie’s writing is not for me and that getting through Midnight’s Children was going to be like taking bitter medicine. Why did I think this? On what information did I base this prejudice? Thursday night before bed, feeling up to a challenge–and starting my TBR Dare early–I picked up Midnight’s Children. I soon found myself interested enough to force myself to stay awake until I read the first chapter. The next morning I couldn’t wait to get to the bus stop so I could resume my reading. And now I am 46 pages in and I can’t believe what an enjoyable and interesting read it is turning out to be. This is a perfect example of why the TBR Dare is so great. I don’t think I would have picked this up anytime soon, and now I am reading something really great. Now, hopefully it was Naipaul not Rushdie who made those ridiculous comments about woman writers…

If you have nothing to read on
the subway, sleeping seems like
a better option than just staring.
Photo from Asleep on the Subway

People staring into space
I couldn’t help noticing yesterday morning how many people just sit on the Metro and stare into space. Granted, many are listening to iPods which no doubt helps to pass the time. But how can someone take a precious half hour of the day (or more) and not read or knit or write out a grocery list or sleep. I do sometimes just to stare into space, but not very often, and many of these people look like habitual stare-ers. Maybe they are plotting their entrance into the Republican primaries.

Reading Dickens is the dickens
The effervescent Amanda at the Fig and Thistle is hosting a Dickens challenge during January as a lead up to the old man’s 200th birthday on February 7th. My experience with Dickens hasn’t been all that fantastic. I had to read Hard Times in college and I kind of enjoyed it. But I have also gotten stuck (repeatedly) in both the Tale of Two Cities and Bleak House. Loved the TV version of the latter, but honestly how many times can I be expected to read about Jarndyce and Jarndyce before allowing my eyes to glaze over. Prior to finding out about Amanda’s challenge, I thought it might be time to give Dickens another try and put Little Dorrit in my TBR Dare pile. I think I am going to shoot for having it read by February 7th so I can post a review that day. No doubt my review will be crucial to the global success or failure of Dickens’ work.

Will Henry Green get the green light?
Stu over at Winstonsdad’s Blog is hosting Henry Green Week beginning January 23rd. I don’t know anything about Green and hadn’t really thought about participating until Simon at Stuck-in-a-Book mentioned it. What finally tipped me over the edge was Simon saying: “… c’mon, if you all did it for Anita Brookner, you can definitely do it for Henry Green.” And I thought, “He’s right, I should give it a go…” Well I did. I checked one out from the library and we didn’t get along. At all. There might be some Henry Green in my future, but not in time for the 23rd.

Bits and Bobs (Supersize version with hidden giveaway)

Sinterklaas Came Early
Our good friends Ron and Barry who live in The Hague just sent John copy of this wonderful Virago hardcover book. It even has me a bit interested. I kind of twisted John’s arm into opening the package before Christmas hopeful Ron and Barry (I mean Sinterklaas) won’t mind.

Sinterklaas is part of the rather wacky (to be kind) Christmas tradition in the Netherlands. Pehaps it is time the Dutch updated their holiday files in favor of something less offensive than the following picture which I almost don’t even want to post here but it illustrates my point only too well. No, I take it back, I don’t want to post the picture here, but if you want to see what I am talking about you can check out this link.

Lost in Lost in Austen
I know there may be die-hard Austenites out there who thought this series was lame, but I really enjoyed watching Lost in Austen. I hadn’t even heard about it until I stumbled across it on Netflix. I found it quite diverting. Like Thursday Next meets Miss Hargreaves meets Jane Austen.

One of these things is not like the other…

The other The Queen
It is hard to see QEII portrayed on film since Helen Mirren created her miraculous version of the reigning British sovereign in the brilliant film The Queen. Who will ever do a better job? No one. However, I just watched a miniseries called The Queen which intersperses dramatizations with documentary interviews and footage that is really pretty darn fascinating. There is so much about 1970s Britain that I didn’t know much about. For instance Princess Anne was almost kidnapped and her body guard was shot three times in the melee (but survived). Much of the republican antipathy toward the monarchy shown in this docu-drama reminded me of Nevil Shute’s fantastic book In the Wet which imagines a Britain where the Queen’s life is in such danger that the Canadians and Australians create a two-jet fleet that allows the Queen to fly around the Commonwealth in safety until the turmoil in the UK settles down.

All of these actresses are supposed to be the Queen.
Which one do you think looks the least like her?

And speaking of Britain
When we were in New York over Thanksgiving I spent some time at the infamous Strand Bookstore where I normally never buy anything because it is so crowded and hot and overflowing that I can never calm down enough to browse. But I did find these doorstop books on Britain in the 1940s and 1950s. I have seen them around the blogosphere and coveted them, but I managed to pick these up for $12.50 each (instead of $47). Yay for me. They also gave me a free Strand Bookstore tote bag for spending more than $50. I have more totes than I know what to do with. It is nothing special but I will ship it anywhere in the world by randomly picking among the people who leave a substantive comment related to anything in this post as well as stating a desire to win said bag. This means no “that’s cool” or “count me in” or any other throw away comments–let’s have some real interaction here…

Copyright or Copywrong?
When trolling around the interwebs today I came across a book review blog that I found fairly annoying–where books are consumed rather than read just to produce un-insightful, and boring book reviews that the blogger seems to think will land her a spot at the Algonquin round table. I know that the book review posts I do rarely qualify as actual book reviews–but  at least they have a part of me in them. And there is no hint that my blog is a just a machine for churning out ARC-induced advertorials. (Although to this blogger’s credit she does give honest reviews for ARCs.)

Anyhoo, perhaps it was the fact that I already didn’t like her, but even her copyright notice annoyed me. Here is part of it:

This copyrighted material may not be reproduced without express permission from the author. She’s happy to grant permission, so don’t be a jerk about it.

Do  you think this means that one can’t take large chunks or entire posts without getting permission? Or do you think it means that one can’t even quote her written work without permission? I would guess it is the former rather than the latter but something about her makes me think she may have meant the latter. And doesn’t fair use law allow one to quote copyrighted material (with attribution of course) without getting such permission? Does it matter if the person doing the quoting has a commercial site? Wouldn’t newspapers fall into this category? Should I just shut up and look up this stuff myself? Should I wait for Teresa to tell me? Something tells me that she not only knows the answers but will share them with us in a succinct, jargon-free way…what say you Teresa or any of you who write/edit for a living?

And speaking of copyrights statements, should I have one on My Porch? Years ago I had some goon lift an entire post of mine as his answer to a question posed on the website Made me want to find him and rough him up.

Do you have a copyright statement? Do you use a service like MyFreeCopyright?

Something furry is watching…

What fur from yonder window comes?

One can never have too many pictures of Lucy.


Bits and Bobs (Again?)

I’ve never done two Bits and Bobs back-to-back before. But since it has been 10 days since I last posted it seems like I might be forgiven.

Game night recap
Christy, Frances, Teresa and I had a wonderful time getting together back on the 6th. I must admit the Penguin game was not all I hoped for. We all enjoyed the bookish questions but the other requirements of the game like loosing or gaining turns or book pieces was kind of distracting for me. But of course all of it was just an excuse to get together and gossip. Christy and Frances were much more timely in posting their accounts of the evening. Apparently Teresa is too caught up in her win to find time to blog about the get together. :)

John and I spent a long Veteran’s Day weekend visiting my family in Phoenix. We had a nice time and the weather was lovely but two days back and my nose still feels like like I have tumble weeds up there. The weather in DC was so wonderfully fall-like both when we left and returned that we decided we needed to leave our Phoenix visits for January, February, or March. Fall is too nice here in DC to miss any of it. Although there is much to be said for the brilliantly blue skies of Arizona. A trip to the desert botanic gardens, the consumption of many tortillas (but only one DQ), and a room with six dogs rounded out our long weekend away.

Parlor Talk
My parents are discovering some classic fiction these days. They both recently finished Jane Eyre. My mom really liked it. When I asked her why she talked about liking all the twists and turns. When the subject of Jane Austen came up I suggested that she might not find Austen as interesting. I was trying to explain to her why I thought that when my dad chimed in and said “there’s an awful lot of parlor talk”. He nailed it. I know many of us like parlor talk (although I prefer Trollopian parlor talk over Austenian) but I think you have to admit that if one doesn’t like it Austen could be quite a boring slog.

Why I think Alan Bennett and Calvin Trillin are two peas in a pod (and other reviews)
You may recall my attempts to clean up the long languishing books in my nightstand. I am happy to say that I have polished off four of those volumes including the ginormous Dumas.

Stempenyu: A Jewish Romance by Sholem Aleichem
This novella is part of the Melville House Art of the Novella Series which many of us tackled in August. I was 2/3rds of the way through this one when the August challenge ended and was so giddy to read something that wasn’t a novella that I kind of dropped this one like a hot potato. Overall I enjoyed it, but the delay in finishing it definitely detracted from the experience. All you need to know about the plot: “…a Yiddish musician whose fame set off a kind of pop hysteria in the shtetl.”

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
Another book I started in August, this one was much easier to get back into after an extended delay. Like War and Peace it has so many characters with names that don’t resonate easily in an English speaking brain that one needs to keep looking at character maps too keep them all straight. Also, like War and Peace, Dumas could have chopped off 300 pages and no one would have known the difference. Unlike W&P, Monte Cristo was often a page turner that has one on the edge of one’s seat. This is my second Dumas and I think I like The Three Musketeers better.

If Wilkie Collins had been French, he could have written this.

Untold Stories by Alan Bennett
Bennett has written so many wonderful things that I was quite excited to read this collection of autobiographical sketches, diary entries, and essays. But I think Untold Stories suffers a bit from too much of a good thing. I enjoyed much about this book and I still love Bennett’s work, but I must say I found him a bit tedious by the end.

Family Man by Calvin Trillin
Like Alan Bennett, Calvin Trillin is one of those clever writers who is so good at turning a wry, witty phrase that one begins to consider a pact with the devil in exchange for the ability to write like him. Also like Bennett, Trillin is a master of capturing the essence of a cultural moment and can spin everyday encounters into something that is far more than the sum of its parts. And, like Bennett’s brilliantly funny and imaginative The Uncommon Reader, Trillin’s novel Tepper Isn’t Going Out is one of my favorite books of all time (and Simon liked it too).  Having said all of that, this collection of essays on family life only partially captured my interest.

Bits and Bobs (followed by Shelf Esteem)

Tomorrow is the day
I got my hands on The Great Penguin Bookchase back in July and have been dying to play it. Unfortunately it is difficult to find folks in the flesh who are interested or who read enough to be worthy opponents. So I knew that my only chance for a meaningful game was to get some local book bloggers over for game night–which is much harder than you might think. Turns out bloggers are busy people and finding a mutually convenient time to play is not easy. But tomorrow is the day. So barring any last minute cancellations, I will finally get to crack open the cellophane wrap on the box of questions and sit down to a spirited game with Frances, Teresa, and Christy.

Trying to do a year-end clean-up
In general I try not to set strict rules for myself when it comes to what I will read next, but I am really feeling the need to focus my reading energy between now and the end of the year. I have nine books that I currently have underway. Two of them (not in the photo below) I will finish this weekend. But I have seven more that were started so bleeding long ago, I don’t even remember when I first picked them up. So even though I have piles and piles of other books just dying to be read, I really feel like I can’t read anything until I clear the decks of these nine books. I don’t think my OCD will allow me to start 2012 with these books cluttering up mind and nightstand. Must….finish….them….

Persephone blurbed me again
Happy to get the latest issue of the Persephone Biannually and even happier to find inside an excerpt of my review of the wonderful The Fornight in September.

Bits and Bobs


Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy

Chris and Don
Recently John and I watched a wonderful documentary on Christopher Isherwood and his 30+ year relationship with Don Bachardy–who was 30 years his junior. A seemingly implausible May-December relationship that is not only fascinating but often touching. Imagine being 18 and tooling around with a famous author who knows the likes Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams, W.H. Auden, Somerset Maugham, E.M. Forster. If you have any interest in Isherwood or are interested in a love story about a fascinating, artistic couple, this is one to rent.

Seen on the Subway
I haven’t done a Seen on the Subway post recently. I just haven’t been paying much attention. I did, however, see a woman on the bus reading a Tove Janssen book in what appeared to be its original language. That was not quite as rare and surprising as the giant dreadlocked man (about 6’5″) in surgical scrubs unabashedly reading a bodice-ripping romance novel.

After finishing Miss Buncle’s Book I had decided I needed to place another Persephone order. But before I got a chance to do so, Persephone sent out an email offering a free copy of A Fortnight in September if you buy three or more books. Plus their prices are going up soon. So I ordered twelve more titles–including the next Buncle book. I already have a copy of Fortnight so I will have to come up with some kind of give away for my free copy.

The Man Booger Prize
I wish I had a dime for ever shortlist post I will see in the coming weeks.

Legos are expensive
I recently broke down and bought a couple of Lego sets. I hadn’t played with them for decades and decided it would fun to do so again. Stupid me didn’t look at the prices until I bought them. Sheesh. It was fun putting them together, but holy moly they cost a lot.

Novella hangover
I thoroughly enjoyed The Art of the Novella challenge in August, but I am on an extended hangover from all that sturm und drang. I am on my third Persephone title in a row. I think when I finish this one I might be ready for something else. I should  probably go to the opposite extreme and finish the second 600 pages of The Count of Monte Cristo which have been languishing since we got back from Maine.

Eggs in Fiction (and Bits and Bobs)

I covet this wonderful Lucien Freud still life that the
artist painted for the dowager Duchess of Devonshire
before she was dowagered. (I think I made that word up.)

Have you ever noticed the prominence of the egg in British fiction? It seems like everyone is always eating an omelet or scrambled eggs for dinner. I run across this all the time in my reading. And I think I notice it because I am not a particular fan of eggs for dinner. Even for breakfast scrambled eggs or omelets aren’t my favorite things. Maybe the presence of all these egg dinners says something about the characters and their lack of interest in food. Or maybe it says something about British cuisine in the dark days before Nigella and Jamie. But then again, before I lay this all at the feet of Her Majesty’s subjects I have noticed the prominence of the egg as a dinner in some older North American fiction as well. Maybe, before the days of factory farming made animal flesh so easy to come by, eggs provided more accessible protein?

How many times in the last 30 days did you have eggs for dinner?

In my last Bits and Bobs I wrote about being drawn into the first of Trollope’s Palliser novels. Turns out I had already read it. No wonder I was enjoying it. So I moved on to Phineas Finn, the second in the series. I am enjoying it, but I am not sure if I am going to like the political nature of the series. It reminds me too much of the omnipresence of politics here in Washington. Something I am trying to avoid. It gets me too worked up. I am to the point in my life where I wish I was one of those people who didn’t care about politics. One of those people who never votes and doesn’t know if the vice president is Joe Biden or Joe Bazooka. Ignorance would be bliss. But who am I kidding? Even writing that I don’t believe myself.

What I am Reading
Half way through Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder. I have read all of her books and while I may have quibbles here and there, she really is a fine writer. And enjoyable to boot.

What I am Looking At
One of my more popular posts in recent days was the one with the picture of the bookshelves with all the bad/disappointing books. As if I didn’t already know, it confirmed that my readers are as snobby about books as I am. Hooray for us. Well good news. In preparation for a possible addition to our house, we are going through a stack of pages torn out of nine years worth of design magazines. The stack is about a foot and half tall and there are lots of bookcase pictures sprinkled throughout. So, I think critiquing photos of bookshelves is going to be a regular thing on My Porch.

It was as we were combing through the above mentioned giant stack of magazine pages
this week that I found the article that had the Freud egg painting in it. When I went
to scan the Freud image for this post, I noticed that the 2003 House and Garden (U.S.)
article about the Duchess also had two other egg pictures in it. So I had to include them here.