Book Review

I’d Rather Be Reading: Book Review

The other day I was wandering around the religion section at Barnes and Noble, when I spotted a pretty little book, tucked in between some really humdrum-looking titles.  It caught my eye, as the cover was face out and, like I said, beautiful.

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See?  Beautiful.

I immediately picked it up upon recognizing the author, Anne Bogel.  She’s the creator of Modern Mrs. Darcy, a fun website that I’ve perused for book titles.  I’ve also heard her interviewed on Sarah Mackenzie’s podcasts.

But this particular book caught my eye not only because of it’s pretty cover, but also because of it’s snarky title and quaint size.  (It’s about as long as my hand.  I love small, hardcover books.)

I immediately and randomly flipped it open to Chapter 8 How to Organize Your Bookshelves, and I was hooked.  I love books.  And I love organizing.  But I snapped it shut.  No!  I won’t buy another book for myself.  I’m here to find something for my husband after all.  (Our anniversary was just days away.)

Somehow, though, the book stayed in my hand.

I wandered over to the Beer and Wine section.  Hmmm, maybe he hasn’t gotten me anything yet?  Maybe I should help him out and buy Anne Bogel’s book and then gave it to him, so that he can give it to me?  Yes!  That’s just it.

And that’s just what I did.  I bought the book, gave it to my husband, who gladly accepted it, and then had to wait two days before opening it at dinner on our 13th Anniversary.

Thank you, Honey!

So, I’d Rather Be Reading

I read this book in 24 hours, and this was restraining myself.  You know, like putting the book down to make supper and attending to the baby.  It was such a short, fun read, though, that I didn’t even have to lock myself in the bathroom to finish it.

But man is she crazy!  I’m not sure she sleeps at all, with all those books she’s reading, and I found this a little inspiring.  I really shouldn’t waste time putzing around on my phone or the internet.  Rather, I should just pick up a book.  And this should never be a problem either because I should keep a book on me at all times.  (Another reason that I love small, hardcovers.  They easily fit into my purse/diaper bag.)

Anyway, I thought I’d answer a few of her questions that she poses in her book.

  1. What was the last story you wished would never end?
    Easy.  My kids’ book, Jock’s Island by Elizabeth Coatsworth.  If she was still alive, I’d write her a letter and beg her to write an extended adult version.  Like 10 volumes long.  Who doesn’t like volcanoes and islands and seas and a hopeful, young couple separated by it all?
  2. Which was the last volume you hurled across the room?
    Hmmm…besides Elizabeth Gaskell’s Cranford?  Maybe Anthony Trollope’s The Warden.  I tried reading that one last week.  Nope.  Not gonna happen.  Boring!
  3. Can every devoted reader point back to the book that hooked them on the story?  …one that made them decide, for themselves, to make reading a part of their life, forever?
    The first book I ever remember reading, on my own, and loving, was L.M. Montomery’s Anne of Green Gables.  I still love that book.

And finally I’ll recommend Bogel’s book for the following kinds of people:

  1. Those of you who max out your library check-outs.
  2. Those of you who like to rearrange your bookshelves for the practical reason that you do not have enough space.
  3. Those of you who think Dust Jackets present a Dilemma.  (I hate them and chuck them, by the way.  If there happens to be any interesting material on them, I will cut it out and tape it to the inside cover of that book, but the rest goes.)
  4. Those of you who have “ever finished a book under the covers with a flashlight when they were supposed to be sleeping.”  (That’s Bogel’s official Book Dedication.)

In the end, I am a bit concerned for myself, however, after reading I’d Rather Be Reading.  You see, she has a chapter titled Book Bossy, and I’m afraid that I fit the bill, and this is not good.  Dear Readers, I sincerely apologize for all my bossiness.  You should pray for me.

P.S.  She’s read all of Evelyn Waugh’s books and loves Brideshead Revisited.  Ergo, she can’t be that crazy because Waugh is awesome.

Life is Worth Living

Cocktails, the End of a Successful Hunt, and the TLM

The other day, well, I mean the other month, my husband made a few drinks.  I meant to share them with you then, but I forgot because I was busy.  So, I’ll share them today because they’re good, and we’re celebrating the end of a successful Hunting Season.

Now I’d like to share a photo of my husband’s dead deer too, but there isn’t one.  You see, he had a Doe Tag and according to him, “Does are hardly worth taking photos of.”  So not only will there be no photo of him with his deer, but there will of course be no antlers to mount on the garage walls.  The boys were seriously disappointed.  One can never have too many antlers on one’s walls apparently.

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Some antlers on our garage wall.
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A pile of antlers that haven’t made it to the wall yet.

 

Brandy Alexander & a Sidecar

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Which one is mine?

On to drinks.  As I said, we’re celebrating a swift end to the Hunting Season, and I’d like to highlight two of our favorites: a Brandy Alexander and a Sidecar.

The drink on the left is a Brandy Alexander.  My husband and I began drinking these after reading Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited, in honor of Anthony Blanche.  Those of you who have read the book or watched the (good) version of the movie (with Jeremy Irons) know what we’re talking about.  There’s a scene wherein Anthony Blanche downs three of them in a row, which is a bit reckless, no?

Normally a Brandy Alexander is made with cream, but as we never have any on hand, my husband makes them with whole milk, which of course is not as creamy, but still good.

Brandy Alexander:
Equal parts Brandy, Creme de Cocoa, and Cream

Sidecars are way too strong for me, but my husband insists that they’re classic and tasteful.  I’d probably be rather drunk if I attempted one.  Nevertheless, here’s how they’re made.

Sidecar:
3 parts brandy, 1 part lemon, 1 part triple sec

Enjoy!

And lastly,

The Traditional Latin Mass

A good friend of mine sent me an article written by Jake Neu and published in Crisis Magazine this morning.  It’s excellent.  (Click HERE for it.)  It’s also interesting that more and more people are choosing to attend the TLM.

A big Thank You to Jake Neu.  Your sentiments are mine as well.

Flashback Friday

Flashback Friday: Pull-ups & Kiddie Pools

How was your week?  Here are a few highlights from mine:

  1. The boys have been doing daily pull-ups on the swing set.  The other day, they challenged me to a contest to see who could do more.  I lost.  I mean, I lost big time.  I couldn’t even do one.  They made me start from a dead hang, and I couldn’t even pull myself up halfway.
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The twins can do six.  I was impressed.

2.  Speaking of pull-ups and other impossible things, apparently it’s impossible for my children not to put things in their mouths.  Do you remember how my son swallowed a penny a few weeks ago?  Well, my 2-year-old girl decided to do that too.

But now that I have experience with the matter, I’ll have you know that I completely kept my cool.  I observed her for a whole five minutes before I gave up.  The first minute she cried.  The second minute she started wriggling around again.   The third minute she was off playing.  And the final two minutes I just watched her from afar.  She’s fine.

3.  It’s my mom’s birthday tomorrow.  Happy Birthday, Mom!

4.  Since the temperature rose above 80 degrees the other day, I thought I’d check out the kids’ pool in the backyard.  (This is what you do, when you live nowhere near anything cool, like an ocean.)

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It was a bit tricky trying to float on their little floaties, but I managed.  Does my neck look red?*

The children were so excited that I was joining them that they even promised to not splash me so that I could read.

And what was I reading?  Nancy Mitford’s Love in a Cold Climate.  Mitford was one of Evelyn Waugh’s friends.  He even proofread her stuff for her.  But this book was marginal.  Waugh is a wayyyy better writer.  (If you’re looking for a good book to read this summer, pick up Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited.)

Notice the brown water in the pool?  Yuck, huh?  But that’s just because the sandbox is a few feet away, not because, well, you know.

5.  The prairie roses are in full blown.  They are the best smelling flower in the whole wide world.  They also happen to be our State Flower.

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The children keep a fresh supply for me on the table.
*I’m afraid that floating around in the kids’ pool makes me a Red Neck, if you know what I mean.

 

Book Review

A Tempestuous Evelyn: Book Review

Some of you may be wondering what I’ve been reading lately?

Christopher Sykes’s Evelyn Waugh: A Biography.

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This is a thick book – 450 big pages.  Totally worth it.

Before reading this  book, I had a good idea who Evelyn Waugh (1903-1966) was, but now I’ve got a lovely, full, and ferocious picture him.  He was no sweet pastel painting of flowers either.  No.  I’d compare him to a Jackson Polluck, which he’d probably hate, as he detested modern art, but maybe I could say he was like Turner’s The Fighting Temeraire?

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The old and famous Téméraire is solemnly being towed to its death.  The scrapyard.  Waugh was like that old ship – magnificent, famous in his day, and not afraid of a good storm.

Now I’ve always liked Waugh, as I was introduced to him in grad school with Brideshead Revisited and some of his short stories.  I knew that he had a fiery personality and was a bit eccentric, but wow did I underestimate him.

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He’s in the middle, looking good.  He thought it deplorable to not dress well.

Prior to converting to Catholicism, he was a rowdy, drunken homosexual.  After his conversion, he was a rowdy, drunken Intellectual.

Let me quote a passage from the book:

‘Do let me’, he [Waugh] wrote to his young friend, ‘most seriously advise you to take to drink.  There is nothing like the aesthetic pleasure of being drunk, and if you do it in the right way you can avoid being ill the next day.  That is the greatest thing Oxford has to teach.’

Not only did Waugh drink excessively and raucously in Oxford and beyond, he was also a melancholic insomniac.  In fact, it was likely the drugs he was taking for insomnia that killed him at the fairly young age of 63.  For you see, these medications were not to be mixed with alcohol, and he just couldn’t not drink.

And then, can you imagine how cranky he was after not sleeping?  (I know how cranky I am after nights of insomnia.)  His friends remember him saying repeatedly,  “You have no idea how much nastier I would be if I was not a Catholic.  Without supernatural aid I would hardly be a human being.”

But for all his raw and rough behavior, he really was a good man.  He fought in WWII, traveled all over the world, spoke multiple languages, and did a lot of good.  For example, he would go out of his way to help fallen-away Catholic friends recover their faith.  He also quietly, and unknown to anyone at the time, gave all the profits from his book on Edmund Campion to Oxford specifically for the building of Campion Hall.

Waugh was also funny and witty.  When he was courting his wife, he wrote the following in an attempt to convince her to marry him:

I can’t advise you in my favor because I think it would be beastly for you but think how nice it would be for me.  I am restless & moody & misanthropic & lazy & have no money except what I earn and if I got ill you would starve.  In fact its a lousy proposition.  On the other hand I think I could do a Grant and reform & become quite strict about not getting drunk and I am pretty sure I shall be faithful…

In the end, she did marry him, and they had seven children, with one dying in infancy.  But this biography doesn’t get into a whole lot of family life; rather, this biography focuses more on his literary life.

Conclusion

If you’d like a good picture of what kind of man produced such famous novels as Brideshead Revisited or A Handful of Dust, check out Sykes’s book.  But be warned.  Most of the novel discusses Waugh’s literary endeavors.

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Here’s a few more Waugh books.  Read ’em all.  Especially Brideshead Revisited, Edmund Campion, and Helena.  Now I want to get my hands on his War Trilogy, as Sykes insists that it’s his best.  (But Waugh considered Helena his best.)