Thursday, July 24, 2014

Can you Recommend?

Hi all, and thank you so much for the wonderful comments on my last two item posts. I can report that I have worn the seersucker jacket and it is great, that fabric is kind of indestructible, remains unwrinkled which is great.  As for the bias stripe outfit, well, I have not worn that one yet. It was more of an experiment but you have convinced me.  Here are photos and links to those posts if you are curious. Apologies for the repeat photos, I have a LOT of items to blog in the next few weeks that are all sew up, photos taken and ready to go. But first.....please scroll down and give me your advice.

Seersucker jacket on me1             V1397 bias stripe top and skirt as worn

Sewing is not the only leisure / hobby / passion / obsession to hold my interest, and everyone needs to step away and recharge a bit. I have a lot of summertime rest and relaxation planned for the next few weeks and I need some recommendations on books.

I thought I would toss this out to you and see if you have any great books to suggest. But not without a little guidance. I love mysteries and have a bunch ready to go as well as some lighter reads. But in my other favorite category: literary Fiction, I need your help. Perhaps to many videos, tv, magazines, websites have taken over my eyeballs and I haven't paid much attention to book releases this year. While I have very mixed feelings about Amazon these days as it seems they are taking over everything, I do like that feature when you are looking at a book and it shows other items that customers bought. Consequently I decided I would list some of my favorite books in the literary fiction category, you can see what type I like, and if you have any recommendations  - please let me know.

Possession by A.S. Byatt
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
The Magus     by John Fowles (actually all his books)
The Remains of the Day     by Kazuo Ishiguro
The Namesake     by Jhumpa Lahiri
The Rule of Four: A Novel     by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time     by Mark Haddon
The Imperfectionists     by Tom Rachman
Bel Canto     by Ann Patchett
Girl with a Pearl Earring     by Tracy Chevalier
Shadow of the Wind     by Carlos Ruiz Zafron

And some books that I thought were only so-so or couldn’t even finish
The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
A heartbreaking work of staggering genius by Dave Eggers
The Secret History by Donna Tartt

So recommend away !  I do have one book on my iPad which I started and then decided to save until summer, Beautiful Ruin, hope it is good.  And last summer I read Gone Girl in about two days (feeling obligated to take breaks for time with the family on vacation :)

This weekend it will be back to sewing posts. Tomorrow I start on a silk jersey dress for my friend Alice. This is the test version, in a fantastic soft grey-black linen. It worked so well in this fabric so I am crossing my fingers for the silk jersey. Looks a bit wrinkly here but it is fantastic as worn so stay tuned for more details and better photos.

linen dress

Happy summer sewing, Beth


  1. Have you tried this little tool for finding good books?
    Just plug in a favorite book and it spits out a list for you.
    One of my favorite books I've read lately is The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker.

  2. Hi - I've been reading your blog for a while, but haven't ever commented. Your description of the books you like and dislike makes me think our reading preferences are very similar, though, so I am de-lurking for books. Beautiful Ruins is very good, but I think Walter's other books 'The Financial Lives of Poets' and 'Citizen Vince' are even better. All are worth reading. Anything by Robertson Davies is lovely. 'The Sisters Brothers', 'The Little Stranger', 'The Shipping News', 'The Manual of Detection', 'Empire Falls' and the Tuesday Next series are some of my favorites. I hope you have fun reading!

  3. Have you read Kate Morton's books? The House at Riverton is very good, as are her others. Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson. Rose by Martin Cruz Smith. The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker -- I just noticed lzzie has already recommended this:)

  4. Ah I love to read - my life is so overwhelming lately I haven't for ages which is a crying shame as I majored in Literature at uni! Some of favourite include...
    Reading Lolita in Tehran
    The Poisonwood Bible
    We Need To Talk About Kevin
    Anything by Kate Morton is very readable on holidays!
    The Bone People
    The Happiest Refugee (this is an autobiography by Australian comedian Anh Do - it's an inspiring and humble story about a refugee family and how hard they worked to establish a new life for themselves - loved it)
    A Hospital by a River by Dr Catherine Hamlin. Inspiring story about an Australian doctor who established a hospital for women in Ethiopia. People can be just amazing
    Water for Elephants - delightful read
    Atonement - ahhhh I LOVED this book.
    The Children's Book (AS Byatt)
    I do like Margaret Atwood's books and she is similar in style to Byatt
    We Were the Mulvaneys by Carol Joyce Oates (not a light read!)
    that's a few to get you started!

  5. Just a few:
    A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki - a marvelous story!
    The Goldfinch - not an easy read, and I do have my criticisms but still, I think it earned the Pulitzer it got.
    The Signature of all Things, Elizabeth Gilbert. It took 50-100 pages to grab me, but grab me it did!
    (semi) oldies, but on my faves list:
    Cold Mountain
    Captain Corelli's Mandolin

    A great question, and I'll be checking back to this post :)

  6. Ooh, so many goodies here! Of like a bit of a mystery then 'Gone Girl' is a good one and I agree with Jilly Be - A Tale for the Time Being is indeed a marvelous story. One of my all time favourite reads, a big walloping story, is 'A Fine Balance' by Rohinton Mistry.

  7. I've also enjoyed reading several of the books you and other commenter's have mentioned, so without repeating those already listed, here are a few more good reads:

    The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
    The Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean
    Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones
    Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie
    Mao's Last Dancer by Li Cunxin
    The Last Chinese Chef by Nicole Mones

    Thanks for this post, its timely :)

    1. I got about 30-40 pages into The Book Thief, and then I returned it to the library. Yet several friends of mine keep saying they loved it! Did I just not give it enough pages of my time?

    2. Jilly Be- I did the same thing. I then picked it up as an audiobook and I loved it. On the other hand I got to page 305 of The Goldfinch and threw it down. You finished that.

  8. You might read 'We Were Liars' by E Lockhart. Ostensibly Young Adult (as Curious Incident is ostensibly children's) but it is such beautiful writing very much in the vein of some of your favourite reads. It's really taken off both in the US and UK. I loved every single word. I would have recommended The Goldfinch, but it looks as though you're not into Donna! Also, have you read The Pink Suit yet?

  9. I also love Possession and The Magus from your list, but also The Secret History so this could be potluck, but some books I have really enjoyed are;
    Atonement - Ian McEwan, all of Gillian Flynn's (bit dark but unputdownable), Wild Swans - Jung Chang, We Need to Talk about Kevin - Lionel Shriver (even darker, I have liked reading all her fiction stuff actually), The sense of an ending, Julian Barnes, Born Round, Frank Bruni (bit different - autobiography by a food critic), and just for lots of laughs The Tent, the bucket and me - Emma Kennedy although maybe you have to be a child of 1970's Britain to appreciate it, I don't know.
    I'll be interested to see other people's picks too and will be sure to come back and check the comments.

  10. Interesting question, and this post will be a great resource for many of us!
    - I loved Run by Ann Patchett, even better than Bel Canto.
    - Maya's Notebook by Isabel Allende was very enjoyable, one of the few books I might even read twice.
    - Unlike a few others, I thought A Tale for the Time Being was a waste of time and
    - The Goldfinch, too, was much too long for what there was to it. But if you like reading about teenaged boys drinking and doing drugs, give it a go!
    - Poisonwood Bible gets my vote as one of the best ever.
    - Shipping News, yes, especially for the use of setting to underscore the theme.
    - Snow Falling on Cedar is wonderful.

    Have fun!

  11. Winter Garden (Hannah)
    The Three Miss Margarets (Shaffer)
    Cutting for Stone (Verghese)

  12. I'd add People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks.

  13. My favorite read by far this year has been The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman. I could also recommend The Fault With Our Stars (Green), Flight Behavior (Kingsolver) and The Pink Suit (Nicole Mary Kelby) The latter is a fictionalized account of Jackie Kennedy's 'chanel-esque' suit and how it came to be. Quite a fascinating story of high fashion in the 60's.... I'll be returning to add to my reading list for the rest of the summer too. Thanks for asking!

  14. I loved Bel Canto. The Three Junes, by Julia Glass is a wonderful book and my dd and I both loved The Time Traveler's Wife.

  15. Ahh, Bel Canto! So good! Brooklyn by Colm Toibin is a favorite- check it out!

  16. I work in a library and one book that we have all really enjoyed lately is "We were liars" by e. lockhart (her spelling). It can be read in a weekend and is so so well crafted, has great characters, and builds to an ending that makes you go wow. Highly recommend.

  17. Anything by David Liss and Joanne Harris is always a winner!

  18. Recently, I have discovered Neil Gaiman and fell in love with his style and writing: Neverwhere, American Gods. Also, try to read Boris Akunin's series of historical detective novels about Erast Fandorin .

  19. Life after Life by Kate Atkinson. And Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann. A lot of your favorites are mine, so hopefully our tastes align!