Monday, February 15, 2021

Books and Beyond


Although the pandemic created much more work for me than in the years before, it also provided me with many enjoyable hours of reading. I read 55 books in 2020 (both as ebooks and "real" ones), 5 less than in 2019, but I'm not reading for the numbers anyway. However, I do find it interesting to see by the end of the year how much I have read over the past 12 months.

As usual I made a list of all the books I read including my rating system of zero, one or two asteriks. No asterik is for "okay", one is for "really enjoyed it" and two is for "outstanding". If a book is plain horrible or I didn't finish it I make a note about that as well.

 There are a few I want to mention here.

Four books got two stars - "This Tender Land" by William Kent Krueger, "One for the Blackbird, one for the Crow" by Olivia Hawker, "The Splendid and the Vile" by Erik Larson and "Memories of the Drift" by Melissa Payne. The last one was, if I remember correctly, an 'Amazon First Read', therefore I didn't have high expectations. Usually I find the 'First Reads' rather disappointing with a few exceptions - the best 'First Read' I ever read was "The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland" by Rebekah Crane - and I was plesantly surprised about "Memories of the Drift". I started rooting for the main character and loved all the other characters in the novel as well. There wasn't a single bad character and everybody was there to help the "heroine". I can't tell you more because it would mean to unveil too much, you have to find out yourself.

"The Splendid and the Vile" drew my interest when one of my students talked about it in one of my German conversation classes I offered over the summer. It describes Churchill's first year in office as prime minister 1940/1941 - I learned so much about him - he really was quite a character -, but also about his family and his cabinet. A great read that I recommend to anybody who is interested in British history.

Since the hand knitted items in my shop became in higher demand I had to sit and knit quite a lot, but I finally discovered audiobooks! I tried audiobooks when Amazon offered me a free audiobook for rent - it was "Everything my Mother Taught Me" by Alice Hoffman and I loved it. Then I listened into "One for the Blackbird, One for the Crow" which was on my wishlist anyway. I loved the narration by Jackie Zebrowski and decided to try Audible for free for a couple months. I enjoyed this book so very much. The often rough voice fitted the harsh setting of the novel, but Zebrowski changed her voice for each character - from hard to very soft. It is excellent.

Another audiobook I enjoyed was "The Dutch House" by Ann Patchett, read by Tom Hanks. He narrates very "Tom Hanks like", but I enjoyed that very much as well. Many socks got knit while I was listening to great (and less great) novels. In the end, however, I decided not to subscribe to Audible since I just didn't want to spend the money on it - and I had also started listening to podcasts.

I quickly found the excellent podcasts by the BBC World Service - my favorites were "13 Minutes to the Moon" about Apollo 11 and Apollo 13, and "Fall of the Shah". I also listen regularly to "The Daily", a podcast by the New York Times.

Since I taught a new class at the German School I also had to read for work - in this case "Writing Down the Bone" by Natalie Goldberg. This book gave me good basic ideas how to structure my creative writing class and also for my own growth as someone who loves to write.

I shall not forget the books that took up a lot of my time - books I enjoy over and over again. Every year I buy new ones and go back to the old ones. Of course I'm talking about gardening books.

One of the most interesting ones was "Gaia's Garden" by Toby Hemenway, recommended to me by an online friend in Australia whose gardening climate is similar to ours. This book was quite an eye-opener and I spent considerable time in my garden to implement some of the ideas. Not all of them work, but those that I chose to try out have worked out beautifully.

And in November, I bought this book (on the day it came out, actually), I am still reading and truly enjoying it.

What did you read during the pandemic?

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Who Is the Winner?


Thank you to everybody who participated in my giveaway.

Third place in the 2020 photos goes to "Through the Lens".

The beautiful "California Poppies" took second place.

And first place goes to "Autumn Glory"!!!

Now of course you probably can't wait to know who is the lucky person to receive three photo cards with these images. It is

Jeanie of the Marmelade Gypsy!

Congratulations Jeanie! Please let me know your address and the photo cards will be sent your way.