In Limbo

Fishing in Limbo
“Fishing in Limbo” by Andrew Imanaka via Flickr.

This ⬆️is basically where I am as I end this past week and start a new week:

  • I’m still reading The Cruelest Month, the third Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, by Louise Penny.
  • I’m not watching much of anything beyond the original CSI  on Hulu.
  • I’m still listening to Father John Misty’s latest album (came out in June), God’s Favorite Customer, over and over, and now I’m getting my wife hooked.
  • I’m not doing much of anything because the weather while not super hot or hot at all compared to southern California or Texas standards where a few of you readers are from, it has been incredibly humid. Last night, the humidity was 97 percent, even though the temperature was in the high 60s (Fahrenheit). Oddly, or maybe not so much, it felt horrible.

Add on to that, we learned last night of the death of a relative with whom sadly our family had a complicated past (I’ll just leave it at that, not trying to be vague here, but it’s really…well…too complicated to explain). So today, I’ll try to continue to read The Cruelest Month, although I’ll be honest that I doubt I’ll be able to focus much and probably just will listen to some music, play Solitaire, and watch CSI reruns.

So what have you been/are you reading, watching, listening to, and/or doing this past week/today?

Of cruelty and floods

Each week here on The Sunday Salon, I take a look back and/or ahead at what I’m reading, what I’m watching and/or what we’re watching, what I’m listening to, and what I’m doing and/or what we’re doing.

What I’m reading

As I type up this draft, I’m in the middle of The Cruelest Month, the third book in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series, by Louise Penny and am enjoying it thus far. As per my 25 Before I Turn 50, I want to read 10 nonfiction books. To that end, I have one nonfiction book per month planned until the end of the year:

  • August: Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family by Amy Ellis Nutt
  • September: Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson
  • October: Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine
  • November: We Were Eight Years In Power: An American Tragedy by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • December: You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me: A Memoir by Sherman Alexie.

That will leave five more nonfiction books for January through May 2019.

What we’re watching

We just finished the first season of the FXX series (on Hulu) You’re The Worst. We’ve seen characters like this before in such series as Catastrophe and Difficult People, but unlike in those shows, where we wearied of the bitterness of the people involved, in this one, at least so far in the first season, we haven’t. At the center also is a love story, even if it is at times a messy and complicated one, especially since the two main characters, Jimmy and Gretchen are such awful people. However, you still are pulling for them somehow, because in their own weird (horrible) way, they’re sweet together.

What I’m Listening To

What I’m/We’re Doing

Over the last couple of weeks, Kim and I both have been going to concerts with a local musical festival, some together, some separately with other people. In addition to a few free concerts, we have been lucky enough to score free tickets from generous people in the community. The festival is called the Endless Mountain Music Festival and features world-class musicians over two weeks.

Today, as you’re reading this, I’ll be visiting my mother, who celebrated her 74th birthday on Friday. My sister and I are joining her for church and then going to her house where we’re having cheesesteaks from a local general store (the owners are originally from Philadelphia).

Later this week, I had planned on lunch and a movie. However, I probably will be foregoing that as I will be putting my money elsewhere, to help my hometown library (where I grew up, not where I live and not the library where I work) which experienced losses Friday no thanks to a flash flood.

So what are you reading, watching, listening to, doing this past week and the week to come? Any highlights?

Pushing Forward Back July/August 2018

Pushing Forward Back JulyAugust 2018Back at July

As planned, the month began on a high, with three days off for both Kim and me. Kim had her normal three days off: Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and I took vacation days for Tuesday and Thursday, having Wednesday already off as a holiday for The Fourth of July. As I recall, we didn’t go anywhere or do much of anything, but it was still good to have the time off.  The second week, we went out to a new rib joint in town, owned by a friend of ours, and it was great. We also watched Love, Simon, which also was great. The highlight of the third week was getting the complete series of Homicide: Life on the Street and starting a landscaping project on a driveway we share with a neighbor. This past week, Kim and I were able to go to an Endless Mountain Music Festival concert at Mansfield University and it was very good. I also was able to continue the landscaping project and get it mostly done.

On the reading front, I had a great month as I read 12 books, thanks to back-to-back readathons the last two weekends of the month: the 24in48 Readathon and Dewey’s Summer Reverse Readathon. Altogether, I have read 27 books for this year.

The dozen books this month were:

  1. Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue
  2. Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet by by Ta-Nehisi Coates (writer), Brian Stelfreeze (artist), Joe Sabino (letterer), Manny Mederos (designer), Rian Hughes (logo designer), Jack Kirby (writer, artist), and Laura Martin
  3. A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny
  4. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  5. Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli
  6. The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
  7. Queenpin: A Novel by Megan Abbott
  8. Rebound by Kwame Alexander
  9. Richard Stark’s Parker: Slayground by Darwyn Cooke (author/illustrator), Richard Stark (source)
  10. Richard Stark’s Parker: The Hunter by Darwyn Cooke (author/illustrator), Richard Stark (source)
  11. Richard Stark’s Parker: The Outfit by Darwyn Cooke (author/illustrator), Richard Stark (source)
  12. Richard Stark’s Parker: The Score by Darwyn Cooke (author/illustrator), Richard Stark (source)

All were good, but the best ones were Behold the Dreamers, The Hate U Give, The Poet X, and Queenpin.

Musically, three albums in particular grabbed me: Sundays by San Francisco musician Hannah van Loon, who performs as Tanukichan; Third by guitarist Nathan Salsburg; and Wild Pink’s Yolk in the Fur, with the latter being the one I was playing the most on the virtual turntable.

Forward to August

This month begins with a visit to my mother the first weekend for her birthday (it’s this Friday, but we’ll celebrate it on Sunday). I have the second Friday off as I work that Saturday at the library (has to do with the number of hours I work per pay period, they give me a day off before I work my one Saturday a month). I don’t know what we’re doing yet, but Kim and I probably will go on a day trip, maybe to the Corning Museum of Glass, maybe to Finger Lakes wine country. We’ll see what the day brings.

So how was your month of July? Read any good books, seen any good movies and/or TV shows, listened to any good music? What was the highlight of your month? What are you looking forward to in August? Share in the comments.

In case you missed it, yesterday I posted my thoughts on “The State of The Blog 2018,” in which I also decided I’m only going to post once a week here.

The State of the Blog 2018

After (and even during) participating in yesterday’s Reverse Readathon, I started thinking about Blogging, yes, with the big B, not just with my own blog but blogging in general. My thoughts began spiraling about Blogging after I went to the “Linky” on the first post for the readathon to visit other blogs, but when I clicked on a few links, I wasn’t taken to a blog. Instead, I was taken to links for Instagram, Litsy, and Tumblr. While I have nothing against these platforms, it made me realize (continue to realize) that blogging is not the same as it was when I started more than a decade ago. Not only are there more than one or two blogging platforms (Blogger and WordPress were the two kings), there are a variety of other “platforms” from which to choose, from the Big Three of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to “services” and apps like Tumblr and Litsy, just to name a handful of the myriad of choices.

When you only had two platforms, I think it was easier to establish, build and cultivate Community, again with the Big C, but I don’t mean the TV show. There even were ways (openID) to comment on blogs in different platforms. Now, at least to my knowledge, there is no (easy) way to comment across platforms. Plus “back in the day,” you had memes and groups to join that cultivated community or at least attempted to do that. I’m thinking of Weekly Geeks, which was established by Dewey who also began the 24 Hour Readathon, of which this past weekend’s readathon was a spin-off. I’m also thinking of The Sunday Salon, which still exists on Facebook and “has” hundreds of members, at least in name, but is nothing like it was when it first began. And I’m thinking of Humor Blogs, a community of humor bloggers of which I was a part for a few years back when I began blogging.

So yesterday after going to Mr. Linky on that first post, I did visit a few blogs and commented. I then went to Instagram and commented there and also tried to find the blogs of those there, if they have a blog, some only had a link to Goodreads, yet another platform. Not that it was my intention to get comments on my own blog and blog post about the readathon, but later I noticed that only one or two people had commented on my blog post — and they already were regular visitors to my blog. I won’t lie while not my intention, I had hoped to get a few people visiting, but alas, that era of commenting and getting comments back has gone the same way WordPerfect has gone. It’s too much work to find a person’s blog. For example, on my Instagram posts, I mention there is a link in my bio, but really who wants to go through that when our attention span already is so limited to a few seconds of scrolling through photos and hitting the heart button?

I also make it more complicated because the link in my bio is a link to another site that links to multiple blog posts. So even if a person was to find the initial link, then they have to go to yet another link to actually get to my blog post.  Ugh.

All this brings to my own blog, small b, and by the numbers a very small b. I probably should superscript the b that’s how small it is. I do have 50 followers, but only have two or three regular commenters out of those. As for visitors per month, I have about 1,000 or so, depending on the month and much less than that in views of actual blog posts. I am beginning to understand why so many book bloggers just have given up their blogs, but not only in terms of numbers but also in terms of time. Why put the time into a blog no one reads when there is time to do other things, especially beginning with work and spending time with family.

At the beginning of the year, I had the idea of increasing the number of blog posts I did per week from one to four with different themes. I even double downed on the idea in a list of 25 things to do before I turn 50 next year. To date, I’ve probably done all four once or twice. It’s been more like one or two per week, so being realistic, I now only am going to do one per week which yes, I will share on Facebook with The Sunday Salon group, because even though it’s not the community it once was, I still visit a few blogs there and the bloggers reciprocate and visit my blog. I should add that most likely I will continue to do Library Checkout posts at the end of the month and my look back at the last month and look ahead to the next month at the end of each month, but other than that, it will be a post once a week.

Once again, my Sunday post will be eclectic instead of just focusing on reading. As I have done in the past, most weeks it will include what I’m reading, what I’m watching, what I’m listening to, and what I’m doing. I had planned for separate posts on what Kim and I were watching, on what I was listening to and on what I was photographing with a special snapshot each Saturday. That last post now will move to Instagram. The listening part just will be a video or playlist at the end of the post. If Kim wants to do a guest post once in a while, she can do that, but there’s no pressure on her or me to do a post once a week.

I think what I’m saying is that I’m just going to go with the flow across different platforms or maybe I should say I’m just going to go with the (continuing) fracture(s) across different platforms. If you can’t beat them, join them…even if there really isn’t a “them” anymore.

My Dewey’s Reverse Summer Readathon 2018

julyreadaton1.jpg Last Saturday and Sunday, I participated in the 24 in 48 readathon. Tonight, starting at 8 p.m., to tomorrow night at 8 p.m., I’ll be participating in the reverse Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon and will be posting updates here and on Instagram throughout the night and day. My initial intention was to read diversely for both readathons, but this past Monday, I looked at books I have checked out or on hold and decided that I’m going to read crime fiction instead. I do have the genders represented almost equally: male, six books; female, eight books.

The List

My new potential list (in alphabetical order) is:

  1. Bluebird, Bluebird: A Novel by Attica Locke
  2. Crocodile on the Sandbank: An Amelia Peabody Mystery by Elizabeth Peters
  3. The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny
  4. Death at La Fenice by Donna Leon
  5. Lady Cop Makes Trouble by Amy Stewart
  6. Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan
  7. Miss Kopp’s Midnight Confessions by Amy Stewart
  8. Queenpin: A Novel by Megan Abbott
  9. Richard Stark’s Parker: The Hunter by Darwyn Cooke (author/illustrator), Richard Stark (source)
  10. Richard Stark’s Parker: The Outfit by Darwyn Cooke (author/illustrator), Richard Stark (source)
  11. Richard Stark’s Parker: The Score by Darwyn Cooke (author/illustrator), Richard Stark (source)
  12. Richard Stark’s Parker: Slayground by Darwyn Cooke (author/illustrator), Richard Stark (source)
  13. She Rides Shotgun by Jordan Harper
  14. Wonder Valley by Ivy Pochoda

I won’t read all of these, of course. I just would be happy to read half, and considering four are graphic novels, I think I should be able to attain that number. Likewise, I don’t plan to read for the full 24 hours; again, I just will be happy if I can read half the time. To that end, I have broken down the 24 hours into a schedule. Initially, I was planning to start at 8 p.m., but then I was given a free ticket to a classical music concert that is part of a local music festival tonight and I couldn’t pass that up. So now I plan to start at 11 p.m.

My planned schedule is as follows:

8 p.m. to 11 p.m. – Concert
11 p.m. to 2 a.m. – Read
2 a.m. to 8 a.m. – Sleep
8 a.m. to 9 a.m. – Breakfast/Online for readathon
9 a.m. to noon – Read
Noon to 1 p.m. – Lunch/Online for readathon
1 p.m. to 5 p.m. – Read
5 p.m. to 6 p.m. – Dinner/Online for readathon
6 p.m. to 8 p.m. – Read

That will allow for 12 hours of reading, which seems doable, considering for last weekend’s 24 in 48 Readathon, I read 12 and a half hours.

Opening Survey

  1.  What fine part of the world are you reading from today? Pennsylvania. Northcentral Pennsylvania.
  2. Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? Queenpin. I love myself some good noir.
  3. Which snack are you most looking forward to? Utz’s Crab Cheese Balls. Photo later.
  4. Tell us a little something about yourself! I listen to what my wife likes to call “machine music.” Samples later.
  5.  This is our VERY first Reverse Readathon! How does it feel in your time zone? Humid, but that’s only because I just got back from a concert, but the windows are open and it should be cooling down here soon as I start up my readathon at 11 p.m. on the East Coast of the U.S.

3 a.m. Check In

It’s 3 a.m. and just under two hours of reading in. As noted earlier, I wanted to have three hours of reading in, but it’s doubtful I’ll be able to stay up another hour, plus I’m cutting into sleep (and reading) time. Oh, well, it’s not like it’s a contest. I just want to have fun reading, so probably will check in after a bit of shuteye.

(A Bit Past) Mid-Event Survey

  1. What are you reading right now? I have only been about half an hour here. It’s almost 9 a.m. and I haven’t had my coffee yet, but I plan on continuing with the Parker graphic novels with the last one in that series Slayground. I enjoyed the first two, and the third was okay (I took a star off for the excessive use of the color yellow, no, really), so now I’m heading on to the fourth one.
  2. How many books have you read so far? Three.
  3.  What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon? Still Queenpin.
  4.  Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those? The main interruption was sleep. I dealt with it by sleeping through it.
  5.  What surprises you most about the Reverse Readathon so far? Nothing. I knew I wouldn’t keep to my schedule and I haven’t. So no shock there. However, that’s okay as I still have a whole day before 8 p.m. and plenty of time to read (not catch up, but still read and have fun doing it! Yay? Yes, yay!



It’s actually 12:30 as I start to type this and I’ve now finished four books: the Parker graphic novels and am midway through my fifth book, Queenpin by Megan Abbott. I’m enjoying it thus far. I was going to take a nap but couldn’t sleep so I’m going to grab some lunch and then go visit a friend who has a 1965 Mustang at a car show in our town. I’m not sure how long I’ll be, but I’ll post photos from there too.

By now I had planned on getting six hours of reading in, but actually I’m at about 3 hours and 19 minutes, minus about four seconds. The last readathon I did back in April, I finished just under 7 hours at 6 hours and 48 minutes. I’m thinking maybe now I can equal that, but I’m not really worried about it. I’m still having fun and have visited some bloggs and Instagram accounts, so it’s all good. To me, it’s not about the numbers, but just that I’m reading, period. Factoring in last weekend’s 24 in 48 readathon, I’ll still have read more books this month than I’ve probably read in one month all year.

4:30 p.m.

I’m done, but I’m going to cheer on a few more folks that are still “in the game.” I’ll have my own post-game analysis later tonight or tomorrow morning…not at all what I planned, but sometimes the best laid plans…

Closing Survey!

  1. Which hour was most daunting for you? 3 a.m. because I should have stuck to my initial schedule and gone to bed at 2 a.m. instead of pushing on and trying to play catchup when a little bit behind.
  2. Tell us ALLLLL the books you read! Queenpin: A Novel by Megan Abbott and Richard Stark’s Parker: The HunterRichard Stark’s Parker: The Outfit; Richard Stark’s Parker: The ScoreRichard Stark’s Parker: Slayground by Daqrwyn Cooke (author/illustrator), Richard Stark (source).
  3. Which books would you recommend to other Read-a-thoners? Queenpin.
  4. How did you feel about this first-ever Reverse Readathon? Should we do it again? I’ll be honest I prefer the regular readathon because at least I can get sleep the night before to start it. However, I know that’s because the “regular” readathons are geared toward those of us on the East Coast of the U.S. Personally, I think with two readathons a year usually (one in April and one in October), one should be geared toward international readers; the other towards those in the U.S., but still invite everyone to participate, maybe have one group cheer on the other?
  5. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? Would you be interested in volunteering to help organize and prep in October? I will be participating again, probably in October if I’m not working that weekend. I would be interested in volunteering to help organize and prep. Just let me know, ladies.

I do have other thoughts on readathons in general, but I’ll save that for another post sometime.  For now, I’ll just finish this post…

So for those of you who did participate in the readathon? How did you do? What was your favorite book? For those who didn’t, read anything good this past week? Share in the comments.

What We’re Watching | Homicide: Life on the Street

Each Wednesday I share what my wife Kim and I are watching in terms of movies and TV each week in a feature called “What We’re Watching Wednesday.” This week, it’s an oldie but a goodie Homicide: Life on the Street.

There is television, then there are those shows that are so far above what should be called “television.”  Examples include The Sopranos, of course, and Game of Thrones, but even before that, there were shows like Hill Street Blues and St. Elsewhere, but in my and my wife’s minds, the show that when you talk about “they don’t make television shows like that anymore” is, and always will be, Homicide: Life on the Street.

The show began in 1993 and ended in 1999 after seven seasons of often struggling to stay on TV, even though it was better than most anything on the air during that time. It was about a homicide unit in Baltimore and based on the book, Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets by David Simon. Unlike many other shows, it wasn’t filmed in Hollywood, but in Baltimore — and the city was also a main character in the show. Not that the ensemble cast wasn’t brilliant, because it was, beginning with Andre Braugher as Detective Frank Pembleton. Others in the cast included Melissa Leo, Daniel Baldwin, Yaphet Kotto, Ned Beatty, Richard Belzer, Clark Johnson, and Kyle Secor.

Then there were the guest stars: Robin Williams, Wilford Brimley, Steve Buscemi, Vincent D’Onofrio, Moses Gunn, Bruno Kirby, J.K. Simmons, Lily Tomlin…I could just go on and on. They didn’t steal the show, but often showed the strengths of the established characters and actors, who at the time weren’t recognized as great as they were. Braugher and Leo are the most notable of the cast that went on to further fame: Braugher in Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and Leo in The Fighter for which she won a Best Actress Oscar in 2010.

Kim and I have been waiting to get this on DVD, literally for years. For the longest time, it was hard to find on DVD, with a complete collection costing up to $300. Finally, this past year, it was rereleased through Shout Factory for about $100 and this past Prime Day, we couldn’t pass up a deal to get it at half that price. Since then, we’ve been making our way through it slowly, because this is not the kind of show one wants to devour in a binge-watch. This is the kind of show one wants to savor which we are doing.

Kim says I have to share this clip with Buscemi, so here you go:

For you, what are those shows that shouldn’t really be classified as television because they’re that good?

What We’re Watching Wednesday | Crude but funny

Each Wednesday I share what my wife Kim and I are watching in terms of movies and TV each week in a feature called “What We’re Watching Wednesday.” This week, it’s TV shows that are crude but funny.

Mainly, there are two shows we have been watching, both on Hulu: Drunk History, which started from sketches on Funny or Die, and Letterkenny. a Canadian show. Both are as crude “af” but also as funny “af” too. If  you don’t mind the occasional sight of vomit and fart jokes, these shows are for you (but really there are some funny lines in between, especially with Letterkenny, with dialogue so fast we had to put the closed captions on just to keep up).

Here’s from the opening of the first episode of Letterkenny (and yes, this is NSFW and does contain vulgar language):

And this clip from Drunk History is one of the less crude ones, but still funny:

So do you ever like your humor a little, or even a lot, on the raunchy side? If so, to what shows or movies do you turn to?

Back-to-back Summer Readathons still on the radar

Sunday Salon July 8, 2018Like I mentioned last week, I’ve signed up for back-to-back summer readathons for the last two weekends this month. The first is the 24 in 48 Readathon from 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, July 21, until 11:59 a.m. Sunday, July 22 (reading for 24 out of any of the 48 hours); the second, a reverse Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon, from 8 p.m. Friday night, July 27, until Saturday night, July 28, at 8 p.m.

I added one more book to the potential list for both readathons that I announced last week: Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue after seeing Tanya  of the blog mention it as her best book she’s read so far this year in her and her co-blogger Kim’s post The 2018 Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag [2018 Girlxoxo Edition]. The rest of the list (again) is as follows:

  1. We Were Eight Years In Power: An American Tragedy by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  2. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  3. You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me: A Memoir by Sherman Alexie
  4. Bluebird, Bluebird: A Novel by Attica Locke
  5. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson
  6. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
  7. Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli.

In their post, Tanya also gave a shout-out to Children of Blood and Bone and I believe she is one of the bloggers I saw mentioning it that made me want to check it out.

As for what I’m reading before the two readathons or in between them, today I’m going to work on a recommendation from a patron at our library: The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver. I’ve had mixed success with her books. I think I liked Pigs in Heaven but I absolutely hated The Poisonwood Bible (sorry for all of you that loved it, but I just couldn’t get into it — at all). The patron mentioned he didn’t like that one either, but did like her first novel, so I thought maybe I won’t hate it and might actually like it. We’ll see. I also have the next Chief Inspector Armand Gamache book, The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny. Even though in the first two, we didn’t meet Gamache until a good 30 or 40 pages into the book, and I’m not usually a fan of multiple points of view, I really enjoy Penny’s writing.

Are you planning on participating in either or both readathons? Have you read either Louise Penny or Barbara Kingsolver? What do you think of their work, if you have? If no to the aforementioned questions, what are you reading this week?

Back-to-back Summer Readathons FTW

Sunday Salon July 8, 2018 I’ve signed up for back-to-back summer readathons for the last two weekends this month. The first is the 24 in 48 Readathon from 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, July 21, until 11:59 a.m. Sunday, July 22 (reading for 24 out of any of the 48 hours, Eastern Standard Time); the second, a reverse Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon, from 8 p.m. Friday night, July 27, until Saturday night, July 28, at 8 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time).

In the past, both readathons have encouraged reading diversely, but the 24 in 48 Readathon organizers this year are putting a special emphasis on it (see their post here). To that end, for the two readathons, I plan on focusing on diverse authors, not only authors of colors (although I will admit my list is lopsided toward them) as the organizers mention, but also also authors and books that represent “LGBTQIA+, disabilities, neurodiversity, geographic diversity, and more.”

I already have a few books selected for the readathon, but will add more to the potential reading list. Here is the list so far:

  1. We Were Eight Years In Power: An American Tragedy by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  2. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  3. You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me: A Memoir by Sherman Alexie
  4. Bluebird, Bluebird: A Novel by Attica Locke
  5. You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me: A Memoir by Sherman Alexie
  6. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson
  7. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
  8. Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli.

I own the first six and have been meaning to get to all of them for a while and I borrowed Children of Blood and Bone from our library after seeing a lot of book bloggers mentioning it. I am hoping to borrow the last one from our library too. I think we just got it, but it hasn’t been processed yet. Once it is, I’ll scoop it up.

Are you planning on participating in either or both readathons? Even if not, do you have any recommendations of diverse authors or books that I might want to add to my potential reading list for the upcoming readathons?




Spies, Intrigue, and Felicity: A Show I Never Expected to Like

Each Wednesday either my wife or I share what we are watching (either together or separately) in terms of movies and TV each week in a feature called “What We’re Watching Wednesday.” This week, in the spirit of the holiday we’re celebrating here in America, she gives her (spoiler-free) review of the show The Americans, which recently just ended after six seasons.

It happens to me with books. I pick something up quite by accident and casually begin reading, and end up clutching the book in a fevered dream every chance I get until it is over, when I am left with that curious emptiness once the story is fully told.

The Americans was just such a TV series for me. Recommended by a friend (Michelle of the blog That’s What She Read) quickly abandoned by my husband as “too complicated to invest in,” I continued on alone, watching most episodes during downtime in the wee hours of the morning at work. I argued with it, rolled my eyes a few times, and then the questions began mounting that I decided I needed answers to. In short, I was hooked.

The show, in case you haven’t heard of it, concerns Philip and Elizabeth Jennings, a couple with two children living in Falls Church, Virginia, proprietors of a travel agency. Their house is nice (though I earnestly prayed that as the seasons wore on they would get rid of that awful wallpaper in the kitchen), their kids are occasionally annoying, and oh…they are Russian spies.

I credit Keri Russell for pulling me in. She portrays Elizabeth with such unapologetic brutality that you watch her to see whose ass she is going to kick next. And at the same time you realize she is the Alpha in this situation, like Tony Soprano or Vic Mackey in The Shield, you root for her, only occasionally swatting away the pesky reminders that these characters are supposed to be enemies. Is it close to reality? According to my own research, spying is a lot more boring than one might conclude, watching this show, and frequently less successful. This fascinating article details the experiences and exploits of a real spy during the same time period.

Elizabeth’s husband Philip, played by Matthew Rhys, is the conscience of the pair…and his struggles with some of the things he has to do raise the most interesting questions. Could a couple who lives seamlessly embedded in American culture and raise children here remain true to their mission without wavering for all that time? Elizabeth acknowledges at one point that things are “easier here, not better” but it is difficult to believe, given the backstory they have for her, that it isn’t both.  The show may not be strictly historically accurate, but as a play of drama, loyalty and moral dilemmas, it is excellent.