Summer Reading Fun!

By Seattle Soccer Mom

Fellow Totebaggers – what are the books you’ve enjoyed reading this summer? Or the books you haven’t liked?

Here are some books I’ve read and enjoyed this summer:

“Lab Girl” by Hope Jahren – combination memoir and science writing. Very good.

“Fool Me Once” – a page-turner thriller by Harlan Coben. I couldn’t put it down.

“Eligible” by Curtis Sittenfeld – a fun, lighthearted retelling of Pride and Prejudice.

“Cure: A Journey into the Science of the Mind over Body” by Jo Marchant. I found this book fascinating – it looks at the connection between the mind and the body. It’s written by a science reporter who has a PhD in genetics and microbiology – but is very readable (lots of really interesting stories).

“The Golem and the Jinni” by Helene Wecker – a chance meeting between mythical beings takes set in turn-of-the-century New York. Part fantasy and part historical fiction with a fairy tale-like quality about it.

And of course “Untethered” by Julie Lawson Timmer.


145 thoughts on “Summer Reading Fun!

  1. This month I’ve read the new Harry Potter Play and Walk Two Moons (Newbery Medal from 1995), I never read this one as a kid, I loved them both

  2. This summer I read all 3 books by Frederik Backman (Man Called Ove, Britt-Marie was Here, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry) and loved them. Highly recommend.

    Also loved Untethered. I had either forgotten or didn’t realize there was a 2nd one, and I stumbled across it in Barnes & Noble. I would recommend it even without the connection!

  3. We read the Notorious RBG and All the Light We Cannot See for bookclub.

    RBG was actually interesting – I had no idea about her early women’s rights work, and found it surprising how smooth her confirmation was (I think 97 senators voted for someone with a clearly aggressive feminist agenda). She did a lot of work on “equal” rights – male spouses receiving SS death benefits, housing for married female military personnel as well. The book is super easy, chatty (it comes from a blog) – and made me wish I had a 12 year old to share it with.

    Light was anything but. It was a layered complicated read that was enjoyable but gave us surprisingly little to talk about.

    I know it’s early to get off track, but I’ll be in DC next week and over the weekend. I can’t remember who is “out” enough to meet people in the area, but I would love to get coffee or a drink with a tote bagger.

  4. I read All the Light We Cannot See this summer also, it took me a while to get into to, but very good book

    the switching of the time periods was confusing at first

  5. Completely off topic and a bit random – Sheep Farmer – if you’re reading, is your sheep farm primarily for meat, or for wool or both? A friend’s husband is Scottish and works for a company that sells cashmere so his company keeps the sheep alive and well. I was curious if your business was similar.

    Slightly more on topic – I was in bed sick most of the weekend so really got into watching Season 1 of Poldark (Cornwall gentleman/soldier comes back to find the estate in near ruins, tries to revive the family copper mine).

    Which leads me to my next thought – We have Hulu, Amazon Prime, Audible, Netflix and basic cable. I also stream a lot of PBS shows, and am thinking about a PBS subscription so I can access older seasons of PBS shows I like. Is all of this a crazy amount of TV/streaming access or par for the course?

  6. I read The Sellout by Paul Beatty, HillBilly Elegy by JD Vance, Far from the Tree by Andrew Solomon and a host of books on the White House – The Residence, Upstairs at the White House, The First Family Detail….

    I have in line The Empire of Cotton which seems to be a good book.

  7. Lark – I just finished A Man Called Ove and really liked it. I have requests in at the library for his other books.

    And Ada and Wine – I also liked All the Light We Cannot See. I’ll put Notorious RBG on my to-read list.

  8. ATM: We have HBO, Netflix and basic cable. We’re getting rid of basic cable when commitment period ends, and subscribing to HBO Go directly. I would not add another subscription service to your list without taking something off, but that’s just me.

    I have downloaded the first season of Poldark and it’s on my very long “to watch” list.

  9. @Ada — drop me a line at laurafrombaltimore (at) gmail — school starts that week, so timing may or may not work, but I may be in DC for a day or two.

    Laughing at the Poldark comments, as my big read on vacation was the first three Poldark novels. Alas, I didn’t realize there were 7, and the online library had only the first three. :-) So I moved on to the first couple of Phryne Fisher books. Also the new Cassandra Clare (which required much net sleuthing, as I had forgotten the backstory on the main characters and apparently missed a few short stories with related plot points).

    Yes, I like complete trash on vacation that makes me think not at all. :-)

  10. I’m intrigued by Notorious RBG. I had to Google it. I’ve long admired her.

    While I think more like Scalia, I suspect their friendship existed because they are both principled people. RBG’s feminist fixes are ones nearly all of us agree on. They are not the more nebulous one of “equal pay for equal work”, with a government bureaucrat deciding the equivalencies between trash hauling, childcare, working as a CNA, and being a guard at a prison.

  11. I’m getting The Elements by Theodore Gray from the library again and may decide to get a hardcover copy.

  12. “This summer I read all 3 books by Frederik Backman (Man Called Ove, Britt-Marie was Here, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry) and loved them. Highly recommend.”

    I still have My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry to read, but I realized after the fact that I should have read that one before Britt-Marie. Oops! I have enjoyed them very much.

  13. “I’m getting The Elements by Theodore Gray from the library again and may decide to get a hardcover copy.”

    DS has the paperback from the school book fair. It is really cool. There is also an iPad app that is similar, but with spinning photos and diagrams of the chemical structures.

  14. I’ve been reading about European refugee policy, and German policy in particular. I haven’t read any novels recently.

    Can I sound off briefly? Just got a text from my kid at school:

    In the past few mins I have heard the word nigga 8 times. Wrong table.

    He’s in lunch, not class, so it could be worse, but it still doesn’t make me happy.

  15. DS has a book about the elements, but I’m not sure if it’s by Theodore Gray. It’s hardcover, pretty big, slick black pages, and teeny samples of several elements. It is cool to look through!

  16. Haven’t done much reading this summer, but this year I have gradually read more. I read all of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels, and found much of the historical part really interesting as I knew nothing about 20th century Italy. I think it also gave a more realistic view of female friendships. Earlier books more enjoyable. Disclaimer by Renee Wright was a good page turner like Gone Girl. Looking forward to reading Without You, There Is No Us by Suki Kim because I’m fascinated by North Korea.

  17. CS, I have no helpful advice, but you and he have my sympathy.

    I keep hoping the next generation is going to be better than ours. *sigh*

  18. Rhode, we are headed to the zoo nearest you tomorrow on our way east :) DD wants to see the elephants.

  19. I still have such a hard time with fiction because I need to know if something Utterly Horrible is going to happen. That’s why I stick to mysteries much of the time. Of course there will be a murder, but after that you know that no four-year-olds will get raped, no puppies will starve miserably, etc.

  20. I’ve been reading a lot of Dorothy Sayers and Margery Allingham, which I would recommend to anglophiles who like mysteries.

  21. RMS, you might already know about this as a librarian, but the Gentle Reads lists have been a godsend for me.

  22. I liked Stephen King’s revival a couple years ago, but I think I needed a trigger warning for the description of the death near the beginning of the book, and I know what I am in for with Stephen King. Same for Mr. Mercedes

  23. ATM-We have meat sheep. Most meat sheep breeds also have wool, although it is not as long and soft as wool breeds, and they still need to be sheared once a year. This wool is usually used to make rugs and carpets. Hard to think about cashmere sweaters on a hot day like today. Cashmere actually comes from goats, not sheep.

  24. “I still have such a hard time with fiction because I need to know if something Utterly Horrible is going to happen. That’s why I stick to mysteries much of the time.”

    And this, precisely, is why I read mysteries and crap. I still haven’t forgiven Diana Gabaldon for leaving effing Timmy in the effing well a few years ago and forcing me to wait several years for the next 1,000-page tome to confirm that all was ok — I am Done With Her.

    Which is also why I was annoyed at the 7 Poldarks — yes, it’s a “saga,” which necessarily entails much more drama and ups-and-downs (vs. Miss Marple in the rectory with a nice, clean murder of someone no one much liked anyway), but I hoped we’d be three-and-triumphant. Instead, I’m left hanging waiting to see if the evil Warleggans ever get their much-deserved comeuppance.

  25. Thanks Wine & Sky!

    I think they were talking about other kids today, but I know it’s been directed at my son other times. He didn’t feel comfortable sayng anything today; he changed tables. I don’t think he was tied into that conversation, other than that school has just started, kids are getting to know eachother, and he probably thought he would be talking with whoever he sat with.

    The next generation being better would be nice, but can’t happen if the only people who talk about race/racism are racists.

  26. I had NO idea that cashmere comes from goats! Thanks, Sheep Farmer. Seriously. You taught me something I didn’t know, and now I’m going to be a brat and ask all my friends if they know what animal cashmere comes from.

  27. I am finally on the 8th Outlander book and halfway through (this one is much more exciting than #s 6 and 7). Once I’m done with that I have a long list of fiction already on my Kindle that I’ve bought when it went on sale (i.e. Girl on a Train a bunch of Liane Moriarty books that I plan on reading next).

  28. “The next generation being better would be nice, but can’t happen if the only people who talk about race/racism are racists.”

    I think more people are talking about race, some driving forces, Trump, #BlackLivesMatter, OJ Simpson miniseries, and call for diverse books

  29. after being a HP fan for many years, I finally went on Pottermore to be sorted into a house, I’m Hufflepuff: Hufflepuffs value hard work, patience and loyalty

  30. I, too, recommend a Man Called Ove. I still can’t get over the state hauling the old man off to a facility against his wife’s wishes. I kept thinking about it when during the Finland discussion, even though Ove is not set in Finland.

    I read the Alexander Hamilton biography this summer (fascinating) and have now retreated back into the world of Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin books, or, as Ron Swanson says, “books about really old ships.”

    Cheerful Sunshine, I’m so sorry that happened to your son.

    Also read a Dorothy Benton Frank book, but that probably doesn’t count.

  31. “I read all of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels, and found much of the historical part really interesting as I knew nothing about 20th century Italy. ”

    I’m thinking of dipping my toe into some fiction, and her novels sound particularly appealing. I’ll put her on my list. I have not been doing much reading at all, just slowly going through Bryson’s Summer of 1927.

    I watched part of an episode of the PBS LBJ series, and I saw the whole thing is online. Now if I can just get myself organized to set up my system to watch those instead of some silly reality show whenever I plop down in front of the TV . . . Also, my Kindle content is in need of organization, as in figuring out for sure which of my many listed devices need to be eliminated and what I named my current iPhone. I guess even with technological detritus I’m a hoarder!

    Nigga is used “affectionately” among some kids, but I still dislike hearing it.

  32. ” Cashmere actually comes from goats, not sheep.” What?!? I swear I was shown sheep when visiting them in Scotland. Maybe its a blend? Another weird fact I learned from this friend – a lot of cashmere is sold at resorts in the Caribbean.

    I am now questioning my whole visit there. At least the Scotch was good, and on tap.

  33. Looking at some of the Gentle Reads stuff. I mean…James Herriot and Jan Karon are kind of too drippy. Sigh. I’m so picky. I want non-drippy fiction that also doesn’t have sudden horrific interludes.

  34. Sky – I can be found at graduatestudentlife at gmail dot com if you have any questions.

  35. I know one of those authors — our kids were in preschool / early elementary together and they used to live down the street from us.

    I want non-drippy fiction that also doesn’t have sudden horrific interludes.

    Have you already read the Hazel Holt mysteries? Not to mention the novelist she once wrote a bio of, Barbara Pym.

    I’m in the middle of Gooseberry Bluff Community College of Magic, an odd and interesting book. I’m enjoying it. I’ve also been reading Beyond the Tiger Mom, As You Wish (the Princess Bride memoir by Cary Elwes), The Ghost Army of WWII, a bunch of cookbooks, and more nonfiction that I haven’t much more than dipped into. I have a sample on my Kindle of the sequel to The Rook but I haven’t started it yet. I really should start Owl and the Japanese Circus too since my husband and son both recommended it so strongly.

  36. ATM-Maybe Scottish farmers use those two terms interchangeably; I don’t know. Or maybe you drank too much scotch. Scotland is known for raising lots of sheep, so that is what you probably saw . A lot of sheep breeds look like goats and also some goat breeds resemble sheep.
    PTM-be sure to bet some money when you ask them.
    Rhett-did not know that people raise vicunas. Did a quick google search and sure enough there are a few farms in the US. They are expensive animals. You would have to see lots of jackets and sweaters to recoup your investment.

  37. You would have to see lots of jackets and sweaters to recoup your investment.

    A vicuna sport coat is $18k. How much in a vicuna? Looking online, it doesn’t seem you have raise vicuna easily and the ones in the US are paco-vicunas which is a cross between a vicuna and an alpaca not an actual vicuna. Do people in the US actually try and raise pure breed vicunas?

  38. How much is a vicuna I mean.

    You could also run the world’s most luxurious petting zoo. Can you imagine how snugly a baby vicuna is?

  39. I don’t know about vicunas, but before the wine things, DH and I actually researched raising alpacas. At least in our area, it seems like a big pyramid scheme, they breed the animals to sell to the new entrants to the market, but the fiber market isn’t taking off

    they are very expensive

  40. Wine-Alpacas are definitely a pyramid scheme. I would guess that vicunas are the same.
    Rhett-they are cute. I will visit your petting zoo.

  41. Thanks Louise and Hour!
    Wine, I hope you’re right. It still seems to me that it is not a topic of “polite” conversation. And refusing to talk about something hard to distinguish from saying it is bad.
    CoC, we are aware of that. What’s more, he can tell the difference. I suspect that without having read a scrap of bell hooks, Henry Louis Gates or the thousands of pages written about it, he knows at some level that those “brahs” who think it is the height of cool to greet eachother with “whaddup, my nigga” are, with their very narrow, set definition of Blackness, indirectly defining and talking about him and his possibilities.

    ATM, dropping word of the scotch in the same post as goat/sheep confusion opens you up for an array of jokes.

    Rhode, are you in the DC area now?

    RMS, how about narrative non-fiction like The Warmth of Other Suns? You could go more towards fiction with A Land Remembered or more towards research/away from story with The Swamp.

  42. RMS,
    Have you read “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand”? I am enjoying it so much that I want to reserve it for long stints of beach or pool reading. Her second novel was not nearly as well-reviewed. I’ve read and loved all of Herman Wouk’s books except for “The Hope” and “The Glory,” so have started on those this summer.

    On nonfiction, I am just about to order “Cadillac Desert,” an account of water policies in the West (written up in a long Sunday NYT front section article on book about America) that more than one review said “reads like a novel.” It’s a very Totebaggy book and sorry to tell Rhett that I am considering a dead tree version so that I can pass it along to my dad.

    This is the first I’ve heard of Gentle Reads, but I see that Major Pettigrew is on the Goodreads GR list. Also the Mitford books, which I wanted to like but couldn’t.

  43. Scarlett, I’ve heard that Deadbeat Dams is sort of an updated version of Cadillac Desert. Maybe you could pack them both.

  44. I started my summer with Untethered, and I really enjoyed the story because of the focus on blended families.

    I mentioned the Two Family House by Lynda Loigman on another post. I read this book when I was traveling, and it was great.

    I’ve been reading light fare at the pool because I find it hard to concentrate on anything serious when people interrupt to talk, or kids are having fun in water. I read Millers Valley by Anna Quindlen. I liked it, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as some of her other books. I thought Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld was fun.

    I read The Year We turned 40 during the week that I reached my own milestone bday. I thought it was ok, but it is perfect for the beach or pool.

  45. Cheerful – I know! But it has been fun remembering my time in Scotland. I got to go to the town’s annual ball celebrating, I’d guess defeat of the English. It was a border town so was raided quite often.

    Sorry to hear about your son’s lunchtime issues. Unfortunately, living in NYC makes one a bit deaf to a wide array of such language. A good reminder that I should check in with the kids on the latest slang and bad words they’ve picked up.

  46. ATM, I still can’t get over your sweet little boys being halfway through grade school!

  47. I have been gobbling up everything by Judith Merkle Riley lately – there is a trilogy and then a few others. They are all medieval/Renaissance novels with strong female protagonists, and there is more religion in them than I usually like in books, but because it is so *accurate* (mysticism in the 13th century, etc.), I was very pleased at the accuracy and didn’t mind the religion at all. :)

    RMS – do not read A Casual Vacancy (JK Rowling). That book was great until the awful things happened at the VERY END.

    I want to read Eligible – should put that one on my list. The library I have online is very stingy with the new-release Kindle books, so I end up not reading anything when it first comes out and then half the time I forget about it anyway. I stopped reading Outlander after #5 or so – the wait is too long between books and there are only so many descriptions of rapes and people being uncomfortable in the 18th-century weather with no central heat etc. that I can take.

  48. HFN – I read the Hamilton biography too. I enjoyed it, but I ended up using my Kindle dictionary feature to sort through some of the dense language at times. It is also quite long, so I broke it up with some more light reading.

    Another historical non-fiction I’ve read lately – Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President. About the assassination of President Garfield. Warning – there are some pretty gory medical parts, but I found it to be really interesting and a fairly easy read for this type of book. The writing style reminded me of Devil in the White City. I read it in a few days on vacation unlike Hamilton which took me a couple of months.

    I’m in the middle of reading Louisa about John Quincy Adams’ wife. It is somewhere between the other two.

    I just downloaded Eligible from the library based on earlier recommendations here. It took me a long time to reach the top of the waiting list!

    I enjoy the Inspector Gamache novels in the mystery genre. The vivid descriptions of all the French-Canadian food make me really hungry.

  49. On race: Just think how amazing to the kids born under Obama that a black President is their norm. The guy from Blackish was on NPR the other day talking about his son didn’t realize how significant that was

  50. I enjoyed both Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand and also The Summer Before the War (both are by Helen Simonson).

    Lauren – I put a request in for Two House Family based on your earlier comment. I’m looking forward to reading it!

    The Inspector Gamache series is one of my favorite mystery series.

    Has anyone else read the Cazalet series by Elizabeth Jane Howard? I really got hooked on the series. It follows an upper-class family in England from the years leading up to WWII to the 1950s. I loved the author’s affection for her characters.

    RMS – nothing horrible happens in Eligible – it’s a fun read.

  51. Daniel Silva has an interesting series of spy novels featuring an art restoration expert/former Israeli spy who gets dragged out of retirement on a regular basis. I made the mistake of reading one of the last books first, instead of reading them in order, but there are at least 15 in the series so if you like them you are good for a long time. Perfect airport/airplane reading. Not great on Kindle if you are losing your memory like me and need to keep flipping back through the pages to remember who the characters are.

  52. “I still can’t get over your sweet little boys being halfway through grade school!”

    It seems like your kid was just in elementary school, and now he’s starting HS.

  53. Rocky,

    Marc Reisner disavowed Cadillac Desert before he died. I’m not home now, but when I get home I’ll try to find the relevant cites.

    Also, there is a scholarly article detailing how alpacas were a pyramid scheme. As I recall, the high quality fibers only came from neutered males and people could import complete sweaters from Peru at a lower cost than just raising the animals. I’ll try to find that cite as well if anyone is interested.

  54. OK this has taken a long time but finally realized that Rhode is GSL from TOS.
    Can anyone give me a hint regarding Finn’s previous handle?
    And we have a personal connection to Untethered, no?

  55. And did Cordelia previously post with the last name of the American gold medalist in the backstroke?

  56. SSM,
    Putting a sample of the first Cazalet book on my kindle. Would it pass the RMS “Nothing horrible” test? I know what you mean about authors who love their characters — for some reason, the Brits seem to pull this off much better than we do. Most of my favorite books for Gentle Reading come from across the pond. Penelope Lively is a good example. Looking through the winners and finalists of the Man Booker award sometimes leads to good reads.

  57. CS, perhaps you were on hiatus when Scarlett returned from hiatus. That return was quite memorable, especially Rhett’s reaction, and very welcome.

    Scarlett, while you were on hiatus, we had a great upheaval in which many of us adopted new handles, largely out of concern that the tidbits of information we left here might be used for nefarious purposes. So many of the current regulars are, like me, folks that you may well remember from before your hiatus, but under different handles.

    It’s been a while, and I’ve gotten so used to the newer handles that I’d be hard pressed to remember everyone’s old handles.

  58. CS, Scarlett’s children are all boys.

    Thanks for the recommendations and warnings, y’all! I appreciate it.

  59. @sunshine
    Does your son know you share so many intimate details of his life? There is a long electronic trail.

    I’m not a troll. I’m a concerned regular. He’s old enough for you to ask his permission before you continue to share every tiny detail of his schools, criminal administrators, bullying by “friends”, hobbies, racist encounters. Everything. Just stop, or ask his permission.

  60. Scarlett – glad to have you back. I realized in a swap my kids would fit in fine in your house too.

  61. Thanks Finn. I’ve got it now!
    I have to be very careful about what I share here, as I’ve let slip a few times in conversation at home that “my blog” suggested this or that book or device or tv show. At first, they thought I had started my OWN blog, which greatly alarmed them all for some reason. The desktop computer remembers my handle, so if they find the site (not hard to do with easy access to history), I’m toast. Maybe I can make a deal with DS not to stalk him on reddit if he agrees to steer clear of the Totebag.

  62. Because knowing that there is racist crap at his school tells you about my son? Get a grip! Your comment tells me how ignorant you are about the role of race in this country today. Go learn something and mind your own beeswax!

  63. Your kids don’t know about the Totebag, and how much we all know about their eating habits? Really?

  64. And hiding, refusing to say who you are shows that yes, you are basically trolling. Even if you are a regular, if you are too coward to say what you mean openly, which would mean with your name, then how are you any better than a troll? Grow up!

  65. stop screaming and think about what anon is saying. the person is not a coward. the person doesn’t want to be screamed at by you. this is what you do. post all day. non stop. present every detail of every part of your life. your kid, home, siblings, parents, ex boyfriends, ex jobs, ex lovers, ex friends. just stop talking once in a while.

  66. And this is what you do: when I come back under a different handle and post less, you “out” me, telling everyone to make that connection. Don’t know what you mean by screaming–most people associate that with exclamation points and all caps–but what you all decided to do that way does much deeper.

  67. I read Good Omens on the recommendation of DS2 and loved it. Comical look at the Apocalypse, what’s not to love? Satan’s minions racing down the A4 in a flaming Mercedes, the Four Horsemen as nasty motorcycle thugs. Wonderful fun. I also read The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo, and hated it. Dull Scandinavian writing, endless recounting of coffees (just how much do they consume anyway?), lamb dishes for dinner, and gratuitous torture sex. And a girl with a motor cycle and tatoos, quel horreur! That is just SO SHOCKING (sarcasm on)

  68. Scarlett, another option is it use the private mode, or whatever the equivalent mode is for your browser (Firefox has the private mode, CoC has mentioned using icognito mode for Chrome).

    Not only will this cover your tracks, it will allow you to get around some websites limits on the number of pages you view.

    Hmm… perhaps I should start using a private or incognito window when I do financial transactions as well, e.g., check my credit card statements and pay my bills.

  69. RMS – I share your dislike for the sad/grim/scary endings that are in most fictional books today. Have you read anything by D.E. Stevenson? She wrote in the 30’s through the 60’s, and her books were where I learned a ton about living in England and Scotland before, during and after WWII. I would recommend you start with Miss Buncle’s Book. They might be a little to “sweet”, but they are quite funny.

    I also like Trollope for relatively happy endings.

  70. I have had both my sister and DD ask about the tote bag when I mentioned something about a topic or conversation here – yikes! Luckily I have never said its name, just called it “a blog I read”

  71. Rhode – things I like about a minivan – with seniors it is not too high of a vehicle to get into, the sliding doors are great for loading kids in and space wise as others have described it can take a lot of stuff without feeling cramped.
    I do understand wanting smaller commute cars. Most families I have seen end up with one smaller car and an SUV/Minivan as their second car.

  72. I also read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child of course it can’t compare to the immersive experience of the novels, but now I’m dying to see the play and see how they staged all that wonderful magic! I also read “The Nightingale”- I highly recommend. I enjoyed all the Jane Austen Project books- especially “Eligible.” I’ve been listening to the “red Rising” trilogy on audio books, while I do my long walks or during painting. It’s entertaining, but a little repetitive.

  73. Second what Louise said about seniors in minivans. Rhode, I don’t remember how old your resident senior is, but my 85 yo dad prefers the minivan because it is so much easier to get into and out of a vehicle when you don’t have to navigate around a door. Especially in tight parking spaces where the door can’t be fully open.

  74. I have no problem with people posting a lot. It never occurred to me that whatever I wrote here would not be open to my family.

  75. I really liked “When Breath Becomes Air” by Paul Kalanithi. When he was still alive, he wrote a article for the New York Times about his cancer diagnosis and his certain, impending death; it was one of the most breathtaking pieces I have ever read. The book is sort of a full-length version of that article.

    I am currently engaged in a long-term project of reading the Bible cover to cover. I’m not traditionally religious, but I want to read the Book for myself. I’m doing it in fits and starts, and it will probably take me a really long time to get through the whole thing, but I’m determined to do it. I’m currently working on the first chapter of Kings (hearing all about the wisdom of King Solomon).

    Off topic, we are just back from our summer vacation to Alaska. We went to Juneau, Sitka, and Glacier Bay National Park. DH did all the trip planning, and he did a great job; it was a wonderful trip. Actually, DH and DS are still out there — they’re kayak-camping this week in the Park. As beautiful as Alaska is, I had no desire to camp for a week in a place where it rains a lot of almost every day, so DD and I opted out of that part of the vacation.

    And completely off topic, DD and I were watching the Olympics last night, and I think we both have a huge girl crush on Maya DiRado.

  76. For those who have too much stuff one of our neighbors who were moving for renovations to their house had an estate sale. They hired an organization company which handled the sale. So many people turned up for the “estate sale” – it was unbelievable. Many more than ordinary yard sales.

  77. Greetings from Iceland. We went into the volcano this morning. Truly incredible. It feels like you are really going into the center of the earth because the entry path is so narrow at the top. It’s amazing to realize that you are inside a volcano. Then on the way up, the elevator stopped about 3/4 of the way up, which is apparently a normal occurrence, and they make an adjustment and get it going in a few minutes. But it’s still a bit nerve-wracking waiting for them to get it going. And none of has had ever been in a helicopter before so that was fun as well.

    Earlier in the week we did this tour –!drangey-island/c10af. The “path” to the top is actually climbing 500 feet straight up the side of a cliff while holding on to ropes for dear life (especially on the descent.) Icelanders have a different idea of what suitable for “individuals of all ages” means. But once you get up to the top, it’s spectacular. Even at the bottom it was incredible – you get off the boat in an inlet with what seems like thousands of birds on every ledge and nook on the sides of the cliffs and the noise is deafening.

  78. And we went to the Icelandic Phallological Museum this afternoon. Whales are extremely well-endowed.

  79. Love Iceland. That is where we did our honeymoon. Yes, camping. In the rain and sleet.

  80. Speaking of rain, we spent yesterday biking in pouring rain. Kids were semi-OK with it. The rain let up when we got back to the ski resort village, so the kids could ride on the luge. Today it was supposed to rain all day, but it didn’t. and we got in a lot of hiking in the national park, and then more luge, and the big cablecar ride to the top of Mont Tremblant (where the conditions rather resembled Iceland). Then the rain started coming down so we retreated to our swanky hotel (swanky after a week of camping) and played Magic while watching Olympics. Tomorrow we are running a road race and then heading to Ottawa

  81. So it appears that I was tempting fate when I wrote that I loved warm weather because BOTH the upstairs and the downstairs air conditioners (two zones) broke down this week. Luckily, in both cases the repairman was able to come the same day to fix them. In the first case the unit needed a new part (compressor pump?). The second malfunction was a pinhole opening that mysteriously developed in a drain pipe located in the attic, and which we learned about when we woke up to a leak in our bedroom yesterday morning. Ugh.

    Anyway, the funny thing was that since the technician didn’t have the right size piping to repair the leak, he used duct tape and clamps as a temporary fix so that we would not be without AC in our bedrooms during this weekend of 100+ temperatures. This guy is my hero. The repair company will send someone to do a permanent fix later this week. (I guess a handy homeowner would have been able to do the duct tape repair?)

    In other news, the outside cable wire going to our house fell down but both the electric company and the cable company showed up within a few hours to fix it.

    If these things happen in threes, I hope we’re done for a while. ;)

  82. Love Iceland. That is where we did our honeymoon. Yes, camping. In the rain and sleet.

    That might make a harmless Sunday thread. Where did you spend your honeymoon? DH and I spent a few days in San Francisco, but then we both had to go back to work.

  83. We went to Italy. 2 weeks, I think? Took the trains around and ate and drank a lot. Great trip.

  84. We went to Australia for our honeymoon, but we had to wait a while because we didn’t want to go during their winter.

    We spent a week in northern CA right after the wedding. That’s when we went to Post Ranch, and Sonoma/Napa.

    Loved both trips, and NO camping involved.

    CoC, that stinks but A/C, but you’re very lucky that it is still working. This weekend is tough. We lost power in one of those storms last night, but it was restored very quickly.

  85. We did a two-part honeymoon. We got married in the middle of summer, and right after the wedding, we went to Maine for a week. The following winter, we went to St. John, also for a week.

  86. We went to the Bahamas – we had planned a trip to Montreal and then a couple of months before the wedding we both said, let’s just go to the beach. I wish we had sprung for a nicer hotel but it was a fun trip. We went to Napa for DH’s 30th birthday 5 years later, which felt more like a proper honeymoon and we did it up with dinners and wine.

  87. SF, and then a Relais & Chateaux property tucked way off the road in rural Sonoma, one of those low-key luxury places. It’s no longer on the Relais & Chateaux list, and I can’t remember the name. Lots of good food and wine.

  88. Hawaii, before I “knew” you, Finn and HM, and in any case the wrong island.

    On a related note, vacations with children are so much more work than honeymoons….

  89. Mooshi, I’ve been thinking of you whenever we pass people on their bikes loaded with all their camping gear going up very big hills in the wind and the rain. We can’t figure out how people find that enjoyable when it’s sunny, let alone in the bad weather.

    Our honeymoon was England.

  90. We never went on a honeymoon. We had family in town for our wedding and used up our vacation. We didn’t miss it as we had taken many vacations as a couple to different places. Before our wedding plans were finalized we had talked about Greece – the pizza shop we frequented was owned by a Greek family. We would look at the pictures in the shop and think it was a neat place to visit.

  91. Costa Rica for three weeks. DH was between jobs and I had saved up a bunch of vacation. We loved it and want to go back with the kids because they would love the wildlife, but we are waiting until both are old enough to do the zip lines and other adventure type stuff.

  92. I will second When Breath Becomes Air. Possibly the best book I’ve ever read. Just gorgeous. Although I cried the ugly cry.

  93. I can no longer read books that make you cry. I always wondered when I was younger why so many older people enjoy happy books and films over “serious” ones. Now I know. Once you have hit a certain point, you have seen too much sadness, people getting sick and dying unfairly, and it just isn’t fun to remind yourself of it.

  94. Honeymoon was British Columbia in summer for about 2 weeks. It was beautiful. We did lots of outdoorsy stuff in the daytime and went to nice restaurants and drank great wine at night & stayed in nice hotels. It was unseasonably hot at the end so we hung out at the pool one day & relaxed. It was the best vacation I’ve ever taken.

  95. Scarlett – another swim documentary for you – Touch the Wall about Missy Franklin. My city is home to an elite swim club and Olympians move to train here.

  96. I read some funny comments about listening to a book on tape and not realizing that shuffle mode was on. Sometimes they didn’t catch on for a while and just thought the disjointed narrative was the author’s style.

  97. NoB – we also went to Maine for our honeymoon. :) I was researching Costa Rica and properties on Luxury Link, but we decided to save money instead.

  98. speaking of girl crushes, am I the only one with one on Dr. Jillian Holtzmann in the new Ghostbusters?

  99. OK, so can I have a minute to vent? I am just done. Why I ever thought it was a good idea to tell DH sure, do that business trip 2.5 days after DD’s surgery I just have NO idea. DD is basically back to infant stage — no weight on foot at all, meds every 4 hours, and in a lot of pain to boot (still); she’s needing close to the max prescribed dose of the oxy, but of course giving a 15-yr-old oxy adds an extra layer of risk/worry. And house is a total shithole as we went right from vacation to work to surgery. And I just totally screwed up everything about getting DS to camp yesterday — the doc hadn’t signed the form for his daily allergy meds (despite requiring us to come in for a new appointment specifically to get the forms signed), which I didn’t notice until pulling the papers together yesterday, so I was frantically trying to email and scan forms to her, then the printer/scanner broke, and then we didn’t have the right meds anyway, and I forgot to wash DS’ sheets, and as a result we didn’t get him there in time to get a good bunk and he was unhappy, and then to top it off we forgot his epi pen and he was really upset over that (classic: I made him give me the epi pen the night before *so we wouldn’t forget it*, but then I put it on the side table and never thought of it again), so I had to do the second run down with that, and I have had a huge freaking headache for the past 48 hours now that won’t go away, and I have too much work this week to get through even if I didn’t have solo kid duty, and I am just done.

    And then I get mad at myself for feeling stressed when other people have real actual problems, whereas my version of trauma is summer camp and quality/affordable medical care and a good job. I hate being such an effing weenie.

    So, thank you, vent over, I feel better now. To quote that great philosopher Tallahassee (a/k/a Woody Harrelson), time to nut up or shut up. Back to work.

  100. Hugs, LfB. That sounds awful. In your place, I might hire a home health aide for a few days to help DD shlep through her bath and help her get around a little.

  101. the doc hadn’t signed the form for his daily allergy meds (despite requiring us to come in for a new appointment specifically to get the forms signed)

    Can I tell you how much I hate that? There’s no excuse for that. It’s a simple money grab, and if you want the money, just require the money and then email the forms without making me come in. I understand that you need to be paid, but you need to understand that going to the doctor’s office is a huge pain.

  102. LFB: I second Rocky’s suggestion to hire some help for a few days to get you through this tight spot.

  103. Is anyone else following Dave Barry’s coverage of the Olympics?

    As I write these words, the Brazilians still have not solved the mystery of the Green Diving Pool of Doom, which recently, in an eruption of bubbles, burped up what forensic scientists have tentatively identified as the corpse of Jimmy Hoffa.

  104. LfB – I am so sorry. I always dread the start of school because inevitably I screw up something related to DS’s allergy forms. He’s allergic to nuts; the school won’t allow him to attend without the epi-pen and related forms. The doctor’s office will only take faxes not email – so DH and I have to try and find a fax machine in one of our offices (not sure we’ll be able to find one anymore – so if I screw it up, we’ll have to go to the office in person to pick-up the forms. I actually woke up in the middle of the night thinking about this.

    On a more cheerful note, we went to Hawaii (Big Island and Kaui) for our honeymoon. We loved it.

    Sky – I agree about kids on vacation. Though it gets better as the kids get older (the toddler years are not really a vacation).

  105. speaking of girl crushes, am I the only one with one on Dr. Jillian Holtzmann in the new Ghostbusters?

    You are not. I think my daughter and I both do. I’ve suggested that she and her friends go to school as Ghostbusters on Halloween, although sadly the no-weapons rule would mean no licking of proton pistols.

  106. My youngest son really liked her character too. Older son has been reading Reddit and went in prepared to scoff so he won’t admit to much enjoyment.

  107. We did a two part honeymoon, since when we got married DH couldn’t take off work. We spent the night in the Sierra foothills,and then went to Costa Rica in December.

    LfB, my sympathies, what an awful time. I have been SO tempted over the years just to scrawl something indecipherable at the bottom of the endless medical forms. Especially since the kids’ pediatrician told me that they rely on the parents to tell them if there is anything of concern.

  108. The kids and I all thoroughly enjoyed Ghostbusters. And yes – Dr. Jillian Holtzmann was awesome. Chris Hemsworth was not bad either.

  109. SSM, yes, my resident teen girl liked Kevin. Did you stay for that part in the credits where the possessed Kevin is leading the mind-controlled crowd in dance moves?

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