Another Marjorie

One of the lovely things about having only books on my shelves that I love is that I know every time I reach for one it will be one I will enjoy. I tend to reread the same ones over and over, skipping the bits I don’t like and savouring the parts I have grown to love. One such book is Marjorie Morningstar, a book a friend recommended and loaned to me and one which I loved so much I had to buy a copy of my own.

I am not jewish, or living in New York, or dreaming of a career as an actress, but I can relate to the other Marjorie as she tries to figure out who she is, where she’s going, and what she’s going to do with herself. I reread it again recently and it still sparks a lot of joy.

And, it turns out, Herman Wouk is still alive, and will turn 102 in a couple of weeks. I am sure he knows how much joy this book still brings to people, decades after he wrote it.

Another Marjorie

The Heiress

Last night we went to see The Heiress. I haven’t read the book on which it is based, but the play was extremely enjoyable. I love live theatre and I’m already looking forward to next month when we’ll be back to see Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, about which I know nothing. We ate beforehand in one of our favourite spots, Hop House. I love the food there, but be under no illusions, it isn’t for a fancy meal one goes here. I have Washington Square on my list of Books I Want To Get Around to Reading This Year list. One of my resolutions is to use my fantastic local library more and expand my reading.

The Heiress

Delightful

The random fake cow’s head on a building I spotted during a somewhat frantic drive home.

A flurry of snow seen from the fourth floor in work.

The anticipation of a new-to-me Chalet School book arriving on my desk (and the knowledge that I’m not the only adult woman that still loves these books).

The Crown on Netflix.

Playing Christmas songs because I’m an adult woman and I don’t have to justify these choices.

Singing with my choir at a church service, even though I’m a godless heathen.

Delightful

It was a dark, dark night.

When I was a small child, for some reason I couldn’t get enough of this book about skeletons. I’m fairly sure there’s a cassette of me reciting it somewhere in my parents’ house, which I can probably never listen to again given that the last time I had access to a cassette player was in the tiny purple car I drove about eight years ago. This recording probably violates all sorts of publication laws too, so it won’t be any huge loss to the world of elocution.

I always liked a dark, dark night, and I still do. I don’t mind the clocks changing, or the nights drawing in. I loved the cosy evenings in front of a pretend gas fire in our old house, and once we manage to get around to hanging some curtains and getting some wood for our stove I’ll love them in this house too. Maybe my love for winter is connected to my time of birth, thirty five years ago tomorrow. Maybe it’s also because Christmas is my absolute favourite time of year. Maybe it’s because a dark, dark night reminds me of scary yet safe times in my childhood.

It was a dark, dark night.

Book Review: Simple Matters, By Erin Boyle

I bought and enjoyed this book some time ago but I’ve recently reread some chapters that really appealed to me as I continue my journey through zero waste consumption and decluttering. Hence, a book review.

Erin Boyle’s blog is Reading My Tea Leaves and I’ve read it for some time. Her approach aligns with a lot of how I approach living in a world that tells us we need to consume more, but I have noticed an increase in her level of sponsored posts and some of the brands she’s partnered with are simply out of my price bracket or can’t be bought outside of the USA without paying considerable shipping expenses. Therefore, I was interested to see whether her book would offer me a little more than things I cannot afford or cannot purchase.

One of my favourite things about this book is the pictures. They’re calm and really showcase her style, which I happen to like, being a fan of what’s loosely termed Shaker style since I first read about it in an old copy of House Beautiful my mum held onto. I wish my photography skills showed my home off as well as hers do. That simple, scrubbed look is quite timeless and her apartment’s look definitely inspired me a little.

I also enjoyed the chapters on decluttering and organising. I’ve been on a mission to do both for about a year now, and the Life Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo really did change my life. About half of my possessions have gone. I think Erin’s approach is probably a little more realistic than Marie’s ‘get it all done in one big go’ advice, and it’s definitely closer to how I’ve actually decluttered.

Organising in a 500 sq ft apartment is, I would imagine, difficult but essential-I cannot imagine living in the 173 sq ft that led me to her blog in the first place. I’ve never lived somewhere that small and we moved from a two storey three bedroom house to a three storey five bedroom house, so one would imagine I am not in the market for tips on living in a small space. I think that Erin’s advice on organisation works even better for those of us in bigger homes, however, as I have found that my stuff will expand to fill the available space and this means increased mess and difficulty in finding anything. So, this is a chapter I regularly reread.

Less helpful for me was the advice on recycling as I regularly use the WEEE system for electrical waste, and the list of documents to keep as it was USA-focused. The book is certainly in the same ‘voice’ as her blog, and some of the advice can seem a little preachy. If you’re a person to take this in the right spirit and skim over the parts that are too anecdote heavy, then you’ll probably enjoy the book more than others who may think some of the books is a little too blunt.

I don’t think this book told me anything I didn’t already know I should be doing, be it cutting back on heavy duty cleaning supplies, not keeping multiples of useful things ‘just in case’ or getting rid of dusty half-used cosmetics, but it certainly looks very beautiful and it’s easy to read and dip back into. It would make a very lovely present, for the right person of course and probably not someone who’s of the more is more mindset. I enjoy reading it, and for the moment I read bits and pieces during a lazy evening as part of reinvigorating my current zeal for living with less.

TL/DR, a great looking book and a nice read. It isn’t for everyone, but for me it was well worth the money.

Book Review: Simple Matters, By Erin Boyle

Books I Finally Got Around To Finishing And Those That Haunt Me Still

I’ve had some books that have haunted me for some time. I wavered over donating them before we moved house, through various decluttering days and when my husband arrived home with a box of books from his parents’ attic.

I resolved to bring them on holidays with me and make a determined effort to reread and this time finish them. Our accommodation had no television and spotty wifi, which is just how I like it and which last year meant I got a lot of reading done.

I’m delighted to have ticked a David Starkey book on the wives of Henry VIII and a Midford sisters biography. They’re quite lengthy so it’s nice to have them ticked off my to do list. However, I am making heavy work of The Making of Home, which is frustrating because I’ve loved several of the author’s other books, and The Victorians, which is also frustrating because as you can probably guess I’m a real history buff and the 19th century is a period I find very interesting.

I’m giving both one more go and then it might be time to send them off to spark joy for someone else.

Books I Finally Got Around To Finishing And Those That Haunt Me Still

L.M. Montgomery

I still regularly read childhood favourites, and reading classics like Anne of Green Gables as an adult is a very different experience as a women in my 30s than when I first read it more years ago than I care to remember. The awful scenario of a child who has lost both parents and suffered a string of less than appropriate home situations since she was a baby has much more impact on me now and reaches much deeper levels.

I didn’t know much about Lucy Maud Montgomery as a child, beyond the blurb that appeared on the back of the 1980s editions of the Anne books I borrowed from the library. I think generations of girls grew up knowing one piece of Canadian geography from the books, namely, the existence of Prince Edward Island. I’ve been planning on getting her journals and collections of little published works since accumulating a lot of out of print books like Kilmeny of the Orchard and what’s become one of my favourites, The Blue Castle.

It is a cliche and three quarters and an unoriginal thought in the extreme, but it is very sad that someone whose books brought me such joy and continue to inspire, challenge and entertain me as an adult had such a difficult road through life. Rilla of Ingleside is a brilliant read 100 years on from the Battle of the Somme and I think I was too young the first time I read it. As Anne said in another book about a chilling funeral, I shiver now when I read it, and feel only adult me can really appreciate how appalling the Great War was for the people fighting abroad and those left behind to worry.

L.M. Montgomery