Bookish in the Mitten

Book reviews, book recommendations, book talk, and a little knitting

No – it’s not my birthday. However, I did discover today, while traveling down a research rabbit-hole, that three of my top ten favorite authors have the same birthday (in different years).

C.S. Lewis, author of The Chronicles of Narnia as well as some completely engulfing adult fantasy (Perelandra and Out of the Silent Planet are two of his titles) was born on Novenber 29. I would put him somewhere around #10 on my list.

Louisa May Alcott, of Little Women fame, was born also on November 29. She probably ranks around #7.

And last – but far from least – is my NUMBER ONE FAVORITE AUTHOR. Madeleine L’Engle, who penned A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Many Waters, and many other titles, was born on November 29.

I can see that I’ll need to make this an annual personal holiday.

There will be cake.

In other news, the building of the new web site is moving along swimmingly after I broke through a couple of hurdles. We are on track for an October launch date if not sooner. I will share a link on this blog when the site is live.

Stay well and safe everyone.

Well hello!

The link below will take you to a survey in which you will answer questions about your reading tastes. The goal is to gain insight into readers’ preferences, which will provide some direction for our upcoming new site, Your Book Group. Feel free to take the survey (especially if you plan on visiting the new site). You can also email to ask for notification when we are live.

Thanks for your help! Here’s the link:

My favorite bookstore, Schuler Books and Music in Grand Rapids, MI, is open again! They are open daily from 10 to 7, or you can access their book inventory anytime by visiting them online.

I had this morning off, so I ventured out of my lair to visit them in person.  They have excellent Covid-19 safety precautions in place, including limiting the number of shoppers allowed in the store at one time, masks (of course, as this is now a state order), and regular sanitizing of items that are handled by shoppers. (They have empty tables, and ask that their customers put items there after handling, rather than re-shelving them.) 

I bought two journals (one will be a writing/blogging notebook, one will be for work) and this book:

I read the first page in the car and I can tell it’s going to be a ‘deep dive’ sort of read. 

I am still reading Wicked, which is so excellent that I went back and started from the beginning. This title was published two years before the first Harry Potter book, and I find myself wondering whether J.K. Rowling had read this book before or while writing about Harry, and possibly got some of her inspiration from author Gregory Maguire. (I’m still about 60% into Wicked since I started over.)

I am listening to the latest Agatha Raisin mystery, Beating About the Bush (2019). I love every Raisin book, and author M.C. Beaton is still making me laugh. At six hours plus some change, this is a quick listen. I have about two hours to go.

Work continues on the new web site, which I still anticipate launching by the end of October at the very latest.

Stay safe my friends!

Over the next few months the content on this site will migrate to a new book discussion and reading space called Your Book Group. You can visit that site now at; send an email to the address shown on the that page if you would like an invitation to the new space once it’s live, and don’t forget to bookmark the page while you’re there.

As previously mentioned, I will continue to post at least once weekly on this page as well.

Can’t wait for you guys to see the new place!

Somewhat regular Nightstand posts will replace the Currently Reading page, since I can’t seem to keep that page updated.

I am reading:

Wicked (Gregory Maguire, 1995) –the “real” story of the Wicked Witch of the West.  It’s been around for a lot of years, and I think I’ve been reading it on and off for at least two years.  It’s an excellent book, but hard for me to revisit for some reason. I’m about halfway through. For more information visit HERE. I’m reading the Kindle version.

Evensong (Gail Godwin, 1999) – the tale of a female Episcopal priest in the Smoky Mountains. I picked up the hardcover edition used somewhere – in the used books section at Schuler Books maybe.  It’s slow going at first, lots of uninterrupted exposition, but it’s got great reader reviews on Amazon so I’m sticking with it. I’m about 30 pages in.  Probably because the protagonist is Episcopalian, I have to keep reminding myself she is not in England.

I am listening to:

To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee 1960) – this is 99% likely to be the subject of the next virtual book group.  Sissy Spacek narrates beautifully. No links included; you’ve either read it already or know how to google it.

The Power of Habit (Charles Duhigg, 2012) – a very ‘listenable’ book about the elements of habit and how to leverage those elements to change harmful habits. The book includes the case study of a man who suffered severe brain damage from meningitis, virtually eliminating his short-term memory. The case study alone is worth the listen, especially if you can snag it from your local library.  Duhigg has his own website; visit  to learn more.  Also, view this three-minute YouTube video.

I was thinking last evening that I miss the comfort of hearing the grownups talk – parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles laughing, sharing family news, playing cards while we kids / teenagers / young adults hung around the sidelines or listened from the next room. My father died in 2017 (in fact, tomorrow is the 3rd anniversary of his funeral) and my mom passed in December. I live far from my aunts and uncles now and don’t see them often, but really these overheard conversations had been growing quieter and quieter for years before my parents’ voices were silenced.

As I was mourning this loss (we are mourning so much now, yes?) I walked past our guest room and saw a light under the door. I went into the room to turn off the light, having no idea why it was on in the first place, and saw a Jim Harrison book that belonged to Grandma Genevieve, that I’d left on the nightstand sometime last year. Opening the front cover, I found a note from Jim (he and Genevieve corresponded quite a bit), and then opened the book at random to the page in the last photo.

It turns out I can still hear my elders if I listen closely. Thanks Grandma.

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