Monday, November 22, 2021

It's Monday 11/22! What Are You Reading?

I'm starting today's post with an apology (and a cry for help!). Although I was late, I DID finally get around to visiting a bunch of blogs on Sunday, only to find that I was unable to leave a comment on any blog hosted by Blogger/Blogspot - including my own! I enjoyed your posts but was unable to leave comments on many of them. There's a long-time issue with Blogger with certain devices not being able to leave comments on certain blogs (this blog is fine; my chronic illness blog has this issue), but in that case, it looks like you're leaving a comment but then it just disappears. The issue yesterday and today is a new one - Blogger won't even let me type in the "comments" box.

Is anyone else suddenly having this issue?

(late addendum - it seems to be fixed now!)

It was otherwise a week of ups and downs for me. My father-in-law has been in really bad shape and getting worse (he's 96 and has dementia). I did have a nice visit with him last week. He was having one of his bad days, but the pet therapy lady came by as we were waiting in the hallway for lunch, and her adorable little doggie snuggled right up to my father-in-law, and the two of them had a little love fest for 20 minutes! It really made his day and was perfect timing. We tried to bring him over for dinner this weekend, but he just couldn't manage it. It's really heartbreaking for all of us.

We had some gorgeous fall weather last week! Even though I had a few days of my chronic illness acting up, I tried my best to get outside and enjoy the sunshine and the last of the fall colors. I took some short, slow walks and enjoyed my favorite tree, my neighbor's huge sugar maple that was at peak color last week! And I spent one warm afternoon (probably our last for a while) out on our deck in the sunshine.

Sugar Maple in Its Fall Glory   

Sunny Day on the Deck

This weekend, we needed a little break, so Saturday morning, we drove up into nearby Lancaster County to visit an Amish/Mennonite farm market that was open for its last day until spring. I wanted some more local apples, while we could still get them. Oh, and they have hot, freshly-made apple cider donuts!! They are made of all stuff I'm not supposed to eat, but they taste so amazing, especially when still hot from the fryer.

Traffic Jam in Lancaster County

Fresh, Hot Donuts - YUM!

And we leave again this week for another long drive up to western New York, to my hometown of Rochester. We haven't seen most of my family members in more than 2 1/2 years, so we are very excited about the journey, with both of our adult sons joining us, and seeing everyone again!  

Hope all of you American readers have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

I posted two new videos on my YouTube channel last week:

And here's what we've all been reading this week:

I finished reading Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner, a book that has been lauded as a Best Book of 2021 ... well, pretty much everywhere. My husband gave it to me for my birthday, and I was saving it for Nonfiction November. It's the story of how Michelle lost her mother to colon cancer when she was only 25 years old. In flashbacks, she recounts her childhood and rocky adolescence and the complicated relationship she had with her mother, who was from Korea. It's filled with references to the delicious Korean foods she and her mother shared as part of their heritage (her dad is American), and she describes the loss of her mother with raw emotion. It got me thinking a lot about my own dad's death from melanoma six years ago, but it was excellent, engaging, and powerful.

Now, I am reading another birthday gift I was saving for Nonfiction November, I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara, a gift from my son's girlfriend. You may have heard the stunning story about the author and this book; it was made into an HBO documentary and splashed across news headlines. McNamara, a true crime writer, began looking into a bunch of unsolved rapes and murders in California, spread across the state throughout the 1970's and 80's. Unfortunately, she died before her book was published, but the work she did eventually helped police to identify and catch the culprit who committed those horrifying crimes. The book itself is an interesting mix of memoir and true crime, including sections she wrote and those her editor put together from what she left behind. I'm having trouble setting it down at night!

I forgot to mention last week that I squeezed in a YA graphic memoir, Other Boys by Damian Alexander that was recommended by Completely Full Bookshelf blog. The memoir is about his first year of high school, in a new school. He lost his parents (in a horrific way) when he was very young and lives with his brother and his grandparents, who are very kind and caring. But Damian was cruelly bullied at his last school--because he isn't like other boys--so his solution at the new school is to not talk, ever. The narrative moves back and forth between his earlier childhood, how the things he enjoyed (including playing with girls) were gradually deemed "not for boys," and his current situation in his new school, struggling to adapt and finally seeing a helpful therapist and coming to some startling revelations about himself. It was excellent!

On audio, I finished listening to An Elegant Defense: The Extraordinary New Science of the Immune System: A Tale in Four Lives by Matt Richtel. I figured as long as it's nonfiction month, I might as well learn more about my own health problems! This book was outstanding and fascinating. The author is not a scientist or doctor or any kind of expert; he's a journalist, a reporter for the New York Times, who became interested in the immune system when his childhood friend was battling a particularly difficult type of cancer. So, he explains everything--including some very complex science--in a simple, easy-to-understand way for laypeople. And, as the subtitle suggests, he explains it all from the perspective of real patients with cancer, AIDS, and autoimmune conditions.The mind-blowing thing is that he wrote this book before COVID, so he keeps mentioning Dr. Fauci and explaining who he is (like we don't know!) and referring to new medical breakthroughs that have become household names, like monoclonal antibodies.  Even though I already knew the basics, I learned a lot, and the book is relevant to everyone.

So far in Nonfiction November, I've covered memoir, inspiration, true crime, and science, so I thought I was ready for a bit of history. I'm listening to The Sisters of Auschwitz: The True Story of Two Jewish Sisters' Resistance in the Heart of Nazi Territory by Roxane van Iperen. This nonfiction book describes the lives of two Dutch Jewish sisters, Janny and Lien, from their peaceful childhoods growing up in Amsterdam with their parents to the Nazi occupation of their beloved country when they are young women and new parents to their large roles in helping the Resistance while they tried to avid the Nazis. I sometimes have some trouble understanding the Dutch names of people and places on audio (it helps to see them in print), but so far, it is a fascinating and inspiring story of courage in the face of terror.

My husband, Ken, is still reading Billy Summers by Stephen King. I've been hearing great things about this one from lots of people, and it was one of my birthday gifts to Ken. This sounds like one of King's more thriller-like novels, rather than horror. The title character is a very talented hit man, the best in the business, only now he wants to get out of the business. He's also unusual in that he only takes on clients where the hit is a bad guy. Now, for his very last kill, he sets his eyes on the evilest man he has ever come across. He's excellent at what he does and especially at disappearing afterward, but this time, everything goes wrong. Oooh, sounds like some great King suspense! Ken is almost finished with it now and enjoying it very much. He says he prefers this kind of thriller to King's more paranormal stories.

Our son, 27, is coming home tomorrow! He'll be riding with us to Rochester (our younger son has to work and will be driving separately). It will be wonderful to spend almost a week with him. My only regret is that he no longer enjoys listening to audiobooks with us like he did when he was a kid! He says they are too slow, and he'd rather read. He doesn't get car sick when he reads and used to bring an entire duffle bag of books along when we took our annual three-week-long road trip each summer, so I know what he'll be doing in the car. Last I heard last week, he was enjoying The Magic Engineer, book three of the Saga of Recluce by L.E. Modesitt, Jr., another of the epic fantasy series he loves. 


Blog posts last week:

TV Tuesday: The Big Leap - I love this dance-centered drama!

Fiction Review: Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell - the excellent novel everyone's been talking about!

My Summary of Books Read in October - a fun reading month for me!

What Are You Reading Monday is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date, so head over and check out her blog and join the Monday fun! You can also participate in a kid/teen/YA version hosted by Unleashing Readers.

You can follow me on Twitter at @SueBookByBook or on Facebook on my blog's page.   

What are you and your family reading this week?


  1. Aw bless your FIL, animals always bring cheer.

    That maple tree is beaut, been taking a lot of piccys of trees/leaves and the sky lately!

    Not read any of those books but LOVE master King so will be buying Billy Summers. Glad blog seems to be working now. Xxx


  2. I'm sorry about your Blogger comments issue—that is such a bizarre glitch where you couldn't type in the box! The only issue I've had with Blogger comments is that sometimes, even if I'm logged into my Google account, it doesn't actually sign in to Blogger for the comments—sometimes going to the Blogger dashboard itself helps, and I also just allow cross-site tracking on my browser (which I'd like to keep OFF, but whatever), and that usually fixes that. Blogger seriously makes me insane, though.

    The picture of the tree is so beautiful—I'm glad you got to enjoy that! And your visit to the farm market sounds like a lot of fun as well—I hope you all enjoy your next visit for Thanksgiving too! And I'm very sorry to hear about your father-in-law getting worse—that must be a lot to deal with.

    All of these books sound great! I've heard a lot of praise for Crying in H Mart, and it sounds like an impactful read. I'll Be Gone in the Dark sounds great too—I wish I knew more about the book and McNamara herself, but I do know that she was married to the comedian Patton Oswalt before he passed, and he talked about her passing in a special I saw and also apparently helped finish the book along with several others. And thank you so much for the shout-out about Other Boys—I'm so glad you enjoyed it! It's definitely a fantastic and impactful read (and also counts for Nonfiction November, which is fun!). Thanks so much for the wonderful post, Sue!

  3. Ah yes comments on Blogger can be a pain at times but happy to hear its righted itself. I usually use Safari for life on the internet but I when I want to comment on Blogger I have to use Chrome. Who knows! Sorry to hear your father in law is worsening. It is so hard to see loved ones going downhill. I love that little cameo of the dog visit. Small things make big differences. Fall colours - my fave. Hope all goes well for the trip and Thanksgiving. It must indeed be very exciting. Take care.

  4. It sounds like it was a blogger issue so there wasn’t a lot you could do, but two things I always suggest when similar situations arise…firstly log out and then back into your account, secondly clear your browser cache, and then reboot your device.
    I wanted to read I’ll Be Gone in the Dark but ended up watching the limited series instead. It’s quite poignant to see and hear Michelle knowing the tragedy in store for her, and of course her investigation is fascinating.

    Wishing you a great reading week and a wonderful thanksgiving with your family.

  5. I've had those blogger issues, but it is usually when I've had the window open, then went to bed and in the morning tried to comment. I discovered that I have to refresh the page and then it is fine. (I had to do it here this morning)
    The tree is gorgeous! I'm so sorry about your father in law. Dealing with it is really hard. I'm glad about the therapy dog.
    It looks like you read some great books this week. I'm not generally a true crime fan, but you just might have convinced me to try I'll Be Gone in the Dark.
    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

  6. The mother of one of my high school classmates was killed by the Golden State Killer, but I haven't read the book about it yet. My classmate was very involved in the whole process and trial, etc.

    I am sorry to hear your father in law is having trouble. 96 is an impressive age, but it doesn't make it any easier for family.