On My Nightstand: Summer Reading

My Summer Book Shelf

I think my good pal Leslie loves books.

Maybe that’s why she’s a librarian.

I love books, too.  And when I was growing up, I wanted to be either a librarian or a home ec teacher.  Somehow, in life I ended up working in a stressful job and accomplishing neither of those plans.

So I live vicariously through Leslie’s reading lists and when she asked if I wanted to be part of a reading blog hop, I had to say yes.

A little birdie gave me a Kindle for Christmas and I fell in love fast.  I have so many books on that Kindle and I am constantly charging the battery back up.  It was an absolutely perfect gift!

image source

On my Kindle right now, I’m reading Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass.  I know a movie just came out, but I had another reason for refreshing my memory.  I signed up for the fabric challenge quilt for the 2016 Washington State Fair (Defiantly, I still call it the Puyallup Fair.  That’s what it has been almost all my life!)

state fair entry

Now the fabric that arrived, and that I am required to use ALL of in the quilt, is U-G-L-Y.  I am not usually so judgmental (about fabric), but even after I pulled it out of the envelope, my daughter said, “Wow, that’s ugly.”  I was thinking the only thing I could probably hide this fabric in would be something with the Jabberwocky.

So other than a refresher-read of Through the Looking Glass, I’ve been reading another book:

image source

A Walk with Jane Austen: A Journey into Adventure, Love & Faith by Lori Smith

At thirty-three, dealing with a difficult job and a creeping depression, Lori Smith embarked on a life-changing journey following the life and lore of Jane Austen through England.  With humor and spirit, Lori leads readers through landscapes Jane knew and loved–from Bath and Lyme, to London and the Hampshire countryside–and through emotional landscapes in which grace and hope take the place of stagnation and despair. Along the way, Lori explores the small things, both meanness and goodness in relationships, to discover what Austen herself knew: the worth of an ordinary life.

So back to my comment about not being really judgmental.  My judgmental side will probably show right now, but I am going to give you my honest opinion of this book.

It just wasn’t for me.

Reading this book, I enjoyed a couple of quotes:

To me, Jane Austen’s books (and the movies based on them) have become the entertainment equivalent of comfort food, what I return to over and over again when I need a break from the real world, when I need to retreat.


In some ways, those of us who love Austen look to her to escape into another world.  When our own is complicated and stressful, hers is tea and careful conversations and lovely dresses and healthy country air.

Now, other than that, I think I read this book hoping for something different.

I really thought the concept of the book was great.  I thought exploring England following the life and writing of Jane Austen sounded pretty fantastic. I’m glad that I only paid $1.29 for it at Goodwill, because I was a little disappointed.

My blatant disclaimer: I don’t have a lot of patience for rambling on about how awful it is to be sick.  I get that everyone has their own experiences, but living with debilitating MS-related fatigue and chronic pain and physical limitations every day, I don’t want to read “woe is me”-type tales of other people’s illness.  I really try very, very, very hard not to have an Eeyore-mentality when viewing my own struggles with disease, so I am not the most patient with others who might go on and on about how rough it is to be chronically ill.

That’s just me and my personality, and I am very upfront with that to anyone I talk to.  I don’t scoff at people’s pain, or think it should be downplayed.  Everyone’s struggles are very real.  I just don’t want to read about it after I struggle to get through my own challenging day.  It reminds me a lot of sitting in a chronic illness support group after my diagnosis with MS.  It was a room full of people talking about how awful every day was with chronic illness.  I don’t want to live like that.  I have rough days, but I want to thrive.

I am the queen of run-on sentences and jumbled writing.  However, no one is paying me to write, so I’m okay with it.  The author of this book writes some sentences that had me rereading them multiple times trying to figure out who or what she was talking about.  In my opinion, the editing was pretty rough.

Whew, maybe I’m the one who is rough today.

Now I hung in there expecting maybe more about the life of Jane Austen, but I learned much more about the author and her search for a husband.  Actually, it sounded more like a woman obsessing over finding a husband and going on a trip to England to search for a husband.

The title suggests that it is a journey into adventure, faith, and love, and the summary led me to believe that I’d learn at least a bit about Jane Austen’s stomping grounds, but it seemed to be a self-absorbed memoir of someone searching for her own Mr. Darcy.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for everyone finding their Mr. Darcy.  However, I just wasn’t on board for the reading equivalent of a pity party about looking for love and living with an illness.  Maybe I’ve spent plenty of my own days looking for love and living with chronic illness that I’m a bit more jaded than most.

Now normally if I didn’t like something, I’d just not tell anyone about it at all.  I seem to keep my negative reviews to myself.  This one just sat wrong with me from the get go and I was really quite disappointed.  That said, it might be someone else’s cup of tea.  If you want to read about searching for a Mr. Darcy, you might like it.  If you want to read about what it might feel like to be chronically ill or depressed, you might learn something.

If you’ve made it this far, you should go see what Sheila’s reading this summer!  I’m hoping to glean a new summer reading list from Leslie’s summer reading blog hop.  I’m on the hunt for something a bit more engaging and riveting!

Got any good book recommendations for me?


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • OH MY STARS! Alice in Wonderland is right up in my top ten favs. Looking Glass, not quite, and didn’t care much for the movie but loved this post. That fabric is green-ish which means it can’t be ugly. Just different, maybe, from what you expected? I think it looks a lot like the cover of the Jane Austen book. Can you make your quilt around it instead? Ha!

    You will work wonders with the fabric, whatever you do and the end result will be loveliness. Will need a pic of that, for sure. Never too late to become a librarian, you know. Not much money in the job but a lot of reward!

    Thank you for saying yes to joining me today. Checking out Furiously Happy after downloading a sample to my Nook and then seeing that Michael Ann loved it. Might be something you would find funny or entertaining, too.

    • Leslie, I’d love to make a quilt based on a Jane Austen book. I made and gave away one with a silhouette of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet. That was fun.

      I’m an Alice in Wonderland fan too. My Alice isn’t named after the book, but that would have been kinda cool. She always on some adventure anyhow.

      My son still tells me to become a librarian. Probably because he wants me to stop complaining about work. I was slightly jealous standing next to all the MLIS grads lined up next to me at commencement a few years back. But I think my love of card catalogs might be all nostalgia at this point (for now) because I lack the computer savvy needed these days. 🙂

  • I don’t think that fabric is THAT bad! Looks kinda psychedelic like when Alice falls through the rabbit hole! I’m sure you’ll find a good use for it!

    The title of the second book had me intrigued. Sounded like it was the kind I go for: travel, maybe a little romance, some Christian stuff thrown in and maybe even some literary stuff. But based on your description, and a few more reviews at Goodreads (the majority of the reviews were 3 star), it sounds like I’ll pass on that one. Too many GOOD books to waste on so-so or just okay books. Who’s got time for that?? Thanks for the honest sharing!

    • Sheila, thanks for taking the time to stop by and comment. I really was looking forward to the book and thought maybe I was being a little too harsh in my book review, but I have a HUGE list of books I want to read. I agree that just so-so books aren’t what I’m looking to spend my time on. I might have been harsh because I am a Jane Austen junkie, so when that part of the book (based on my expectations) fizzled for me my judgmental side showed up. 🙂

  • I totally agree with you on the pity party about having a chronic illness. I have three medical conditions that can be very difficult to live with. I decided to change my eating habits and take really good care of myself to enable a functional life. I tell myself every day – “I am well, I am healthy, I am strong.” Can you tell I believe in the power of positive thinking? 🙂 I also love to read and I try to read uplifting books as much as possible. My favorite genre is well-researched biographies. Enjoy your Summer – This day will never come again.

    • Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to leave a comment. I really appreciate it. I LOVE biographies!! I am a non-fiction/history book junkie. I like your positive thinking. I’m still working my way back to changing my eating habits slowly but getting there. And thank you so much for the reminder that this day will never come again. That is a good thing to remember each and every day.

  • Good Picks!! I don’t ever remember reading Alice in Wonderland but I’m sure I did. Will have to get Through the Looking Glass!!

    • Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment Katie! I know there are tons of books I’ve read but can’t remember just when I did read them. I was a book junkie growing up and read as many as I could from the library. I wish I’d kept track. It would be fun to see a list of those.