Top Ten Authors I Read For The First Time In 2016

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Joining in on The Broke and the Bookish’s Top Ten Tuesday yet again!

I don’t think I’m alone in saying 2016 was a remarkably stressful year. I had great expectations when it came to all the books I wanted to read. I had hoped to get through A Song of Ice and Fire, read diversely, catch up on series, and tackle non-fiction.

Most of that didn’t happen. Instead, I ended up rereading Harry Potter and diving into cozy mystery and fantasy series. With real life hanging over me, I wasn’t up for anything more challenging than that.

Somehow, I did manage to find some excellent new-to-me authors in-between all my rereading and catching up on YA. Most of these authors write mysteries, fantasy, and historical fiction so if you’re looking for nice, escapist reads, the authors on my list are definitely ones I’d recommend.   

Top Ten Authors I Read For The First Time In 2016

  •   K. B. Wagers ~ Behind the Throne was a surprise hit for me this year. I’d read awful Science Fiction novel after awful Science Fiction novel, but Wager’s space outlaw book pulled me in and I loved it. I’m especially excited to pick up the sequel, After the Throne, this month. I’m always happy to find a new author with a new series to look for to.
  • Susanna Clarke ~ This year was my year of gigantic Fantasy novels. Along with A Song of Ice and Fire, I finally tackled Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. I adored it (even if the book dragged terribly in the middle), but even more so than Jonathan Strange, I loved Clarke’s book of fairy tales, The Ladies of Grace Adieu. I was so disappointed when I realized she hadn’t written any other books. I’m impatiently waiting for Book #3.
  • Anne Helen Petersen ~ With the demise of The Toast, I had to drown my sorrows in Anne Helen Petersen’s “Scandals of Classic Hollywood” series on The Hairpin. I read through most of the web-based essays before I finally picked up the book based off the series. It was fascinating to read about the classic film stars and the studio system. Next year, I want to read more about Hollywood and, hopefully, watch some new-to-me classic films too.
  • Kerry Greenwood ~ I discovered Miss Fisher’s Mysteries! Phryne Fisher is an amazing heroine and I cannot wait to continue with the series so I can take in all the sumptuous details of Phryne fashion and lifestyle.
  • Dorothy L. Sayers ~ Dorothy Sayers is one of those authors I can’t believe I hadn’t read before 2016. Her Lord Peter Wimsey books are just my sort of thing, and I’m only disappointed I wasn’t able to find any of her books at the last library book sale. They’re the perfect sort of cozy reads I like having on hand for bad days.
  • Amanda Grange ~ Amanda Grange writes the memoirs of Jane Austen’s heroes. I’ve added so many of her Austen books to my TBR after reading Edmund Bertram’s Diary earlier this year. I’m hoping to pick up to Captain Wentworth’s Diary soon. Of course, I might wait until I start my reread of Jane Austen’s novels next year.
  • Winston Graham ~ Ross Poldark was one of the best books I read this year. Unfortunately, I haven’t made it any further in the series (mostly because horrible Francis got on my nerves in Book Two). Next year, I’ll try to tackle Demelza and Jeremy Poldark. I’ve heard the series gets more frustrating as it goes on so we’ll see how much more I can manage.
  • Matthew Kneale ~ I found out about When We Were Romans from Jen Campbell’s Youtube channel. It’s a story of a parent’s mental illness told from the child’s point-of-view. It was a beautiful if heart-wrenching read and I loved it. Kneale has another book, English Passengers, with an even better rating on Goodreads. I definitely added it to my TBR. Another one to get to in 2017!
  • Virginia Woolf ~ I FINALLY read a book by Virginia Woolf. I choose A Room of One’s Own and it was one of those books where I started dog earing pages because there were so many good quotes. It was a dense, little book but so worth the read. I own Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway and, while stream-of-conscious novels fill me with dread, I might read it anyway.
  • Morgan Matson ~ Morgan Matson wrote my “Summer-y” read, Since You’ve Been Gone. It’s been awhile since I’ve read Contemporary YA, but I thoroughly enjoyed this one. Matson’s written about three other books so if I need a Summer-y book next year I know which author to turn to.

Who is your favorite newly discovered author?

Book Review ~ Behind the Throne by K. B. Wagers

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For twenty years, Hail’s been on the run. She’s an outlaw and gunrunner, but the people on her trail aren’t tracking her down for any crime. She’s a princess (third in line to the Indranan throne). She ran away from her Empress mother at eighteen to hunt down her father’s murderer and bring him to justice. She never found the killer, but she kept running.

The constrictive life of court couldn’t compete with the freedom of space.

Hail’s life outside the law, unfortunately, can’t last forever and everything’s thrown into upheaval when a pair of Imperial trackers catch up with her. They destroy her ship and take her captive, but the worst news is still to come. They’re taking her home because her mother is dying and her two sisters and niece have been murdered. Hail is now heir to the Indranan throne.

Between political machinations and murders attempts, Hail struggles to stay alive long enough to find her sisters’ killers and take her place as Empress. Thankfully, all her years dealing with crime bosses prepared her for staying alive–even when someone has a gun to her head.

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K. B. Wagers’ Behind the Throne is a fast-paced, Science Fiction romp. The plot catches you up and drags you along as its unlikely heroine dodges bullets and maneuvers deftly through court. Hail’s an engaging lead character. You feel for her losses, cheer as she takes on her enemies, and long for her to survive so her awful cousin won’t take the throne. Her gunrunner past makes her far more interesting than a lot of your resistant princess characters, and her age (thirty-eight) allows her to bring realistic maturity and experience to her actions.

Her home empire also sets her apart from many other Science Fiction heroines. The Indranan Empire was colonized by Indian settlers thousands of years before the action of the novel takes place. Hail wears saris, worships Hindu gods, and drinks chai. On top of that, her mother rules a matriarchy. Only women can inherit the throne and hold most important political positions. Hail does wish for more equality between the sexes, but for now, it’s the women of the Indranan Empire who run things.

Behind the Throne reminded me a lot of The Hunger Games and The Winner’s Curse series. Both The Hungers Games and Winner’s Curse are YA and not adult Science Fiction, but the pacing, style of political intrigue, and reticent heroines were reminiscent regardless. Wagers’ novel could actually be a good stepping stone from YA to Adult Sci Fi. The writing’s easy to read (if sometimes clunky), and the characters, diversity, and exciting storytelling are perfect for younger reads as well as older looking for a quick, engaging read.

I thoroughly enjoyed Behind the Throne. After reading a handful of horribly paced novels, this was just the book I needed to break me out of my reading slump. I had trouble putting Behind the Throne down and I’m looking forward to grabbing the sequel, After the Throne, when it’s released in December. I’d definitely recommend picking up Behind the Throne if action-packed Sci Fi with diversity is just your thing.

What Book has Broken You Out of a Reading Slump Lately?

Read Like a Gilmore: A Starter’s Guide to Rory’s Reading List

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Rory is a hardcore reader–at least in the first several seasons of Gilmore Girls. As the show progresses, she reads less and less AND YET she still manages to read and/or name drop 339 books over the course of the series. That’s a lot of books, particularly when you take into account most of them are Literary Fiction, Classics, or Nonfiction. Those genres lend themselves to hefty reads.

The whole, wild list can be found here. Check it out and take in all those titles. I may have read a lot of Epic Fantasy and Literature in high school and college, but I certainly didn’t read that much–even as an English Major!

Thanks to the sheer overwhelmingness of the list, I decided to make my own abridgement to it. I haven’t read everything Rory has, but I’ve read enough to give a starter’s guide to some of the best of the best on her bedside table. (I’ve actually read a good amount of these books this year so I can attest they hold up outside of a college classroom!)

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Read Like a Gilmore: A Starter’s Guide to Rory’s Reading List

The Fun Stuff

  1. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  2. Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
  3. The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
  4. The Harry Potter Series by J. K. Rowling

The Spooky Stuff

  1. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  2. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  3. The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson
  4. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
  5. Edgar Allan Poe: Complete Tales & Poems by Edgar Allan Poe
  6. Carrie by Stephen King

The Awesome Women’s Stuff

  1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  2. Emma by Jane Austen
  3. The Portable Dorothy Parker by Dorothy Parker
  4. A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
  5. The Awakening by Kate Chopin

The Other Stuff

  1. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  2. Sonnets by William Shakespeare
  3. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  4. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
  5. Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi

What’s Your Favorite Book On the Rory Gilmore Reading List?

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Drink Like a Gilmore {Gilmore Girls Mug Round-Up}

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It’s almost here. The Gilmore Girls Revival is just about nigh, and it’s time to mentally preparing ourselves for whatever’s to come. I’m both excited and terrified for the new series. My greatest fear isn’t that the four new episodes will be bad. My greatest fear is that Rory is going to end up with Dean. (Trust me, my mom and I scoured the trailer for clues, trying to figure out which ex she’ll most likely get romantically involved with in the new series. Sadly, Dean seems the most probable.) Whichever way the new series goes, I know it’ll be fun to watch it collectively with the rest of the fans (and my mom–who I dragged into this mess).

For fun, I decided to round up nine Gilmore Girls-inspired mugs today. I don’t know about you, but I plan to have a freshly brewed pot of coffee when I sit down to watch the revival, and any of these mugs would be most appropriated drink-ware for the occasion.

Drink Like a Gilmore {Gilmore Girls Mug Round-Up}

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Cake Quote by Kacien

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Luke’s Diner by Joseph Ernst

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You’re the Lorelai to My Rory by Shaileyann

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Gilmore Mug by Moremeknow

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In Omnia Paratus by Little Inklings

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Drinking Coffee Like a Gilmore by CreeksideCrochetShop

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Coffee, Please & A Shot of Cynicism by It’s Always Autumn Here

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The Gilmore Life by White Cedar Cabin

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Vicious Trollop by ConfettiPrintsShop

What Quote from the Series Would You Like to See When You’re Sipping Coffee?

{Top Ten Tuesday} Ten Books Recently Added to My TBR

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It’s been awhile but I’m actually joining in on The Broke and The Bookish‘s Top Ten Tuesday this week.

I’ve discovered one of the bonuses of working at a library is that the librarians let you look at through their Publisher’s Weekly and Booklist catalogues. I say “bonuses,” but I guess that depends on how long my to-read list gets in the future. For now, it’s manageable–only ninety-one books according to Goodreads.

Ninety-one might seem like a lot (not to most book bloggers, I suppose, but to some people) but, knowing me, ninety-one books will be culled down to twenty once I actually start reading what’s on my TBR.

My reading taste can be finicky, and I drop books for no better reason that sentence length annoying me.

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The books on this list will hopefully be lucky ones that get read. I’m certainly excited to give them a chance.

Top Ten Books I’ve Added to My TBR Lately

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Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones ~ Wintersong is a YA novel with more than a little in common with a certain film called Labyrinth. Obviously, I’ve been dying to read this book ever since I heard it included a Goblin King. *Dance, Magic Dance!*

Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth ~ I couldn’t finish the Divergent series. I just couldn’t. That doesn’t mean I’m not interested in trying Veronica Roth’s newest novel. It’s a political drama with space and superpowers. Definitely sounds up my alley.

The Gilded Cage by Vic James ~ When someone describes a fantasy novel as being similar to Downton Abbey, you know it’ll be high on my list of to-reads. The Gilded Cage is deals with class conflict and magic. I’m hoping it has more than a little in common with Zen Cho’s Sorcerer to the Crown.

Cordelia’s Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold ~ I’ve been meaning to read the Vorkosigan Saga forever. I even started Cordelia’s Honor once years ago but never got far in it. The first book in the saga just made it back onto my to-read list because I decided that I’m going to finally try to tackle the series. It’s so popular. I want to know if I like it or not.

Crosstalk by Connie Willis ~ To Say Nothing of the Dog is one of my favorite Science Fiction novels of all time so when I found out Connie Willis had a new book–not in her Oxford Time Travel series–coming out, I figured it was about time I branched out and read her other work.

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All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders ~ I’m a fan of Charlie Jane Anders articles on io9. While novels aren’t exactly the same thing as website posts, I’m excited to try her book about friends, magic, and science!

The Stars are Legion by Kameron Hurley ~ Somehow I’ve never read a book by Kameron Hurley. I’ve followed her on Twitter and read her articles, but I’ve never picked up an actual book by her (not even Geek Feminist Revolution!). The Stars are Legion sounds like a book I’ll enjoy–yet another book about space, politics, and a tough-as-nails heroine.

Half-Resurrection Blues by Daniel Jose Older ~ Urban Fantasy’s a genre I go back to when I feel the need for a quick, engaging read. Older’s Bone Rumba Street series is one of the more popular of the genre that I haven’t tried yet. I actually can’t believe it wasn’t on my TBR earlier.  

Summerlong by Peter S. Beagle ~ I adore Peter S. Beagle’s writing. I’ve only been putting off reading Summerlong so I can keep up with Science Fiction novels for SciFi Month. As soon as December hits, I’m diving it! (Truthfully, I don’t even know what this books is about, and I don’t care: It’s Peter S. Beagle.)

Across the Nightingale Floor by Lian Hern ~ One of my friends from work recommended this series to me. She said it was a fantasy which takes place in Japan, and that’s really all I needed to know.

What Books Have You Recently Added to Your TBR?

Image Source: Goodreads & Gif Source: Brightest Young Things

{Film Review} The Meddler

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It’s a truth universally acknowledged that a film trailer tends to either spoil an entire movie in three minutes or completely misrepresent the plot–preparing the viewer for, say, a comedy rather than a fairly serious dramedy.

The Meddler’s trailer perpetrated the latter of these two sins. I sat down to watch The Meddler because I wanted a funny, heartwarming comedy about a mother and her adult daughter. What I got wasn’t bad, but it certainly wasn’t that.

 

The Meddler is actually about Marnie, a sixty-something Brooklynite who moved to Los Angeles after her husband died to be near her daughter. Unfortunately, her daughter’s dealing with her own problems and doesn’t want anything to do with her mother’s constant intrusions. Marnie’s forced to keep herself busy by befriending an Apple Store employee, helping one of her daughter’s friends plan a vow renewal ceremony, and volunteering at a hospital. When she happens to meet a retired cop on a film set, she’s forced to face the fact that she might still be holding onto her husband. The question is whether or not she can let go.

Susan Sarandon definitely shone as Marnie. I haven’t watched her in much besides Enchanted, but I liked her in this role. She conveyed the confusion, sadness, and enthusiasm of Marnie in a real and sympathetic way. It was easy to root for her to have a happy ending–particularly when that happy ending included J. K. Simmons as a chicken-owning, retired cop. (He played Dolly Parton for his chickens. Can you say “What a catch?”)

The chemistry between the two potential lovebirds was just wonderful, and while the romantic subplot of the film is secondary, I almost wish it and the relationship between Marnie and her daughter were more in the forefront of the film. This is a story about grief, but J. K. Simmons and Rose Byrne are so lovely that you kind of want it to be that funny, mother-daughter rom-com the trailer promised.

Not that the film isn’t successful as is. I loved Marnie and all of her sweetly madcap antics. As always, it was refreshing to watch a film featuring a lead actress over the age of fifty–especially when that actress was not British or Meryl Streep. I also liked how the film represented Marnie’s relationship with her daughter in all its complicated glory. If I can, I want to track down more films about mothers and their adult daughters (and by adult, I mean over the age of twenty-five at least). I’m not sure how that search will go, but it was nice to see non-cliqued mother/adult daughter relationship on screen and I need more.

While The Meddler isn’t a movie I’ll probably go back to again, I did thoroughly enjoy watching it. I actually wish my mother had gotten to watch it with me because I think she would have appreciated Marnie (even though she doesn’t like Susan Sarandon) and the chicken subplot (she knows I want chickens someday). I’d definitely recommend giving The Meddler a try if you like your films bittersweet, and if you can, don’t make my mistake. Make your mama watch it with you.

Also Try. . .

  • Beginners
  • This is Where I Leave You
  • Evening

What’s your favorite movie about mother/daughter relationships?

My Favorite Podcasts

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Whenever I’m off-desk at work, I put on my earphones and start up a podcast. It’s calming to shut out the noise of the library and focus on the hosts’ voices and their stories. Since music has never been a huge thing for me and audio books don’t hold my attention, I’m glad there are so many podcasts out there that are funny, educational, and focused, more often than not, on Pop Culture. I’d really be struggling for background noise if podcasts were not such a thing right now.

I’ve listened to a lot of podcasts over the past year, but there’s a few in particular that I keep downloading to my beloved iPod Shuffle, Honey Lemon. I thought it’d be neat to share some of my favorites with you–mostly because I want you to share your favorites right back so I can have more to listen to.

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My Favorite Podcasts    

  • Dear Sally ~ A Felicity podcast that’s a perfect mix of nostalgia and jokes. I haven’t even watched that much Felicity, but I still enjoy hearing these two friends talk about who won each episode: Noel or Ben.
  • Gilmore Guys ~ After I watch a particularly annoying episode of Gilmore Girls, I download the companion Gilmore Guys episode right away. The two “Gilmore Guys” and their guests always have hilarious and insightful takes on the episodes.
  • Common Room ~ #PotterWeek was amazing and Common Room just started a series recapping the TV show, Lost. No matter what sort of geek you are, there’s almost certainly a Common Room episode/series for you.
  • Mousterpiece Cinema ~ Again, with the nostalgia! I have a thing for retro movie and television podcasts. Can’t you tell? Mousterpiece Cinema is Movie Mezzanine’s Disney podcast. Mostly, the hosts review Disney films from the 80’s and 90’s, but there’s a couple of modern movies thrown in too.
  • The Nerdist ~ If you like listening to writers, actors, and directors talk about their craft and other, much more random things, The Nerdist podcast will suit your fancy. I skip around and pick episodes based on my tolerance for the guests, but others might not be so picky.
  • Rosie and Jessica’s Day of Fun ~ A little bit of everything is in this podcast. Most of all you should know they talk about knitting and baking.
  • Nerdonomy: Nerds on History ~ My inability to finish historical non-fiction makes me very thankful for all the history podcasts out there. Nerds on History is VERY eclectic–which is fun because you learn a bit about everything listening to it.
  • You Must Remember This ~ Thanks to The Hairpin’s “Scandals of Classic Hollywood” series, I’ve been getting more and more into Hollywood history. You Must Remember This is a great way to satisfy curiosity about old timey actors and the stories behind their films.

What Are Your Favorite Podcasts?

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Cozy Fall Knits {10 Free Patterns!}

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It tends to be freezing in the library where I work year round. In the Summer, it might be ninety degrees outside, but I’m wearing leggings and a heavy cardigan and still shivering. In the Fall and Winter, it just gets worse. I’ve been knitting fingerless mittens all Summer to prepare myself for the oncoming frigidness.

Now that it is getting into that prime yarn-crafting season again, I’ve been lurking on Ravelry and Pinterest looking for some new cozy projects to tackle this Fall. I think I’m going to need a warm shawl to keep at my desk (sometimes the window by my desk freezes over with ice because it’s so cold). Maybe I’ll cast-on my second pair of (super thick) socks or finally tackle a Weasley sweater. Anything to keep me–a person who wears gloves in sixty degree weather–from freezing in my much colder office.

If you’re like me and are looking for some projects to keep you busy and warm while you’re trying out all the new Fall shows or sitting at your desk, I rounded up a list of ten, free patterns.

Cozy Knits for Fall

  • Tidblad ~ Shawls seem to be nice, medium-sized projects (perfect for those, like me, who are still super intimidated by knitting an article of clothing that will only possibly fit).
  • Miss Marple Scarf ~ I’ve knitted this pattern twice, and who knows, I’ll probably make it again. It’s easy yet interesting and I can’t wait to channel an Agatha Christie character once the weather turns even colder.
  • Pumpkin Tea Cozy ~ Not going to lie. This project speaks to me.
  • Apothecary Cuffs ~ Outlander inspired knitting patterns tend to be gorgeous without exception. These cuffs were my first proper, knitting project on dpns and I love them. (Even if I made some mistakes with the pattern. Oops.)
  • Harry Potter Scarf ~ It’s the time of year to show your House Pride with a hand-knit scarf.
  • Josh’s Link Hat ~ In case you need a last minute(ish) Halloween costume.
  • Yoked Skirt With Pockets ~ I’ve wanted to make this skirt since I started knitting. It has POCKETS!
  • Hedgehogs ~ I’ve never knit amigurumi, but these hedgies might convince me to try.
  • Proud Puppy Sweater ~ The Gert would hate me if I knitted this for her, but she’d be adorable in it!
  • My Cup of Tea Socks ~ Knit on dpns (score!) and relatively simple looking. This are definitely in my queue.

What’s your favorite cozy accessory to knit for Fall?

A Rainy, Autumn Afternoon Playlist

A Rainy Autumn Afternoon Playlist.jpgAutumn’s my favorite time of year. I love heavy sweaters, hand-knit hats, and steaming mugs of spiced tea. The return of TV series, my beloved electric blanket, and library book sales only add to the elure. There’s simply this knitted/rustic/plaid aesthetic to Fall that appeals to me, and lately, it’s put me in the mood to listen to twangy, acoustic music when I’m writing. It makes me feel like I’m working in a shabby chic coffee house that serves pour-overs in tin mugs and has artistic jack o’lanterns on the counter.

I’ve created a playlist that satisfies that fantasy and gets me in the mood for blogging about pumpkin recipes and writing stories about college students working in coffee shops. 

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What music puts you in the mood for Fall?

{From My Shelves} Fall TBR

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Somehow, I’ve managed to get over two thirds of the way through my reading goal this Summer. It was rough. As per usual, Summer was the season of reading slumps and depression. I’m hoping Fall will be better. I can usually get through more books once the weather turns cool and I finally feel up to relaxing afternoons with a cup of tea and my beloved electric blanket.

Meanwhile, I’m trying not to get my expectations up too high. I have some classics and nonfiction that I’d love to get through before the end of the year, but I’m not including them on this TBR because I don’t want to set myself up for failure. (I tried to get through The Mill on the Floss this Summer, but I just couldn’t do it–in spite of loving George Eliot’s writing.) Instead, I thought I’d pull books from my shelves that would help me complete my reading challenge, get me ready for a new Fall show, and just plain entertain me.

We’ll see how it goes.

From My Shelves: Fall TBR

  • Death by Darjeeling by Laura Childs ~ My easy book for the TBR! I always try to include at least one lightweight to keep myself from freaking out over all the heavy tomes on my list and Death by Darjeeling is that one for Fall. At the last library book sale, I grabbed a bunch of cozy mysteries–figuring I’d need to have some on hand for when I wasn’t feeling up to something denser. Most of the ones I picked were about books, tea, or cats–which just feels right to me.
  • The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco ~ If I had to guess, I’d say I’ve owned The Name of the Rose for at least seven years. Most books that I’ve had that long and haven’t read have been culled from my shelves in the past year. For some reason, I held onto Eco’s novel. I’ve heard it’s fantastic so I really have no reason (besides how incredibly hefty it appears) to put off reading it any longer.
  • In Cold Blood by Truman Capote ~ For my Reading Challenge, I have to read one True Crime novel. True Crime is one of the few genres that I have absolutely no interest in so I figured I might as well stick with a classic. I’ve read Truman Capote before thanks to Breakfast at Tiffany’s (which is MUCH better than the film, by the way). I figure his foray into crime writing will be entertaining enough to allow me to check one more item off my Reading Challenge To-Do List.  
  • When Did You Last See Your Father by Blake Morrison ~ I’ve had this novel on my shelves forever. I bought it solely because David Nicholls wrote the screenplay for the adaptation–which, on reflection, seems like a weird reason to read a book written by a different author. Still, it’s a small book. It’s time I got through it and sent it back to the library.
  • Elizabeth the Queen by Sally Bedell Smith ~ The Crown premieres on Netflix on November 4th. To prep, I figured I might as well read a biography of the Queen. I’m not holding my breath that the book will be terribly interesting (I don’t expect a whole lot of trashyness), but I’m still curious about her thanks to watching the *almost* completely fictitious A Royal Night Out this Summer.

There are my five books. What are you planning to read this Fall?