Creative,  Reading

January & February 2017 Book Report (And TV/Movie Report!)

I took about a month off from reading from the middle of December through the middle of January and it was great to disengage with books for that bit, but like always, I tend to come back around to take another gulp from some books. Since it has also been a season in which I’ve watched far more television than I usually do, I thought I’d talk about some shows and movies I’ve watched over the last few months.

First, books!


Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher: With her untimely death back in December I kept seeing everyone talk about her books. I found this audio version, read by Carrie, to listen to over the course of a few days. I’ve taken to listening to audiobooks instead of podcasts recently and am finding it a refreshing change. This book is more about Carrie’s upbringing and relationship with her mother. A worthwhile listen if you want to know more about her life. I’m planning on getting around to her fiction books eventually.

Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Another audiobook listen. All I’ve got to say is I hope this woman can manage to live out the rest of the Voldemort presidency. I knew very little about RBG before reading this book and it was a revelation to hear her story and the things she dealt with in regards to sexism in the workplace. We’ve come so far and yet not far enough. Put this book on your to-read list.

This Life is In Your Hands: One Dream, Sixty Acres, and A Family Undone by Melissa Coleman: I’ve had this book on my to-read list for years now and this was yet another audiobook, read by the author. I did not speed this one up because the author has a wonderful voice that is soothing. Honestly, she sounds southern but she’s from Maine—sooo…not sure on that one. If you are familiar with Eliot Coleman and his expertise around four season gardening then you will know that this is his daughter. The story is about the Coleman family in their beginning years in the back to the land movement in Maine in the 70s. The family was mentored and rented land from Helen and Scott Nearing, the go-to folks for the back to the landers back in the era. I was not left with a good taste about the Nearings after reading this book. I knew some of that going into the story because of what I’d previously read in other articles about the BTTL movement but this book just highlighted it even further. I did give some serious side eye to the freedom a toddler was given to basically roam wherever, but I will just accept it was a different era.

If you are interested in homesteading, gardening, memoir, or just like a good but heartbreaking story, this is worth reading.

In the Middle Of

The Patron Saint of Liars by Ann Patchett: I keep see Patchett time and time again as a revered author and so I finally gave one of her books a go. I’m listening to this one as an audiobook and am about 30% into it and LOVE it! Great story and writing. I’ll keep you posted.

Difficult Women by Roxane Gay: This is a newly released book I am jumping on the bandwagon early for once! I’m not very far into it but the short stories I’ve read so far are captivating and well written.

Epic Tomatoes by Craig LeHoullier: It’s garden and tomato season, need I say more??? Just started.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett: I’ve read this a couple of times before but it has been at least a decade since I’ve read it. I’m doing a book club for The Garden Path Podcast with Elizabeth sometime in late March or early April so I’m going to start this one soon.

On Hold

On Trails by Robert Moor: I am only about halfway through with this book but it is so, so good. If you are an outdoor enthusiast or hiker you will really enjoy this book as it is about—-trails! And not necessarily hiking trails, either, but animal trails and the author even goes into exploring to find out what were the very first trails. I started this in December and because I was in a lull with reading I had to renew it the max amount of times and I still didn’t finish before needing to return it to the library. I plan to pick it back up again soon so I can finish but based on what I’ve read I highly recommend it.

Now on to TV!

As for network tv, This Is Us, Timeless, and Big Bang Theory are what I’ve been watching steadily this year. I dropped the political thriller with Kiefer Sutherland because I was politics-ed out and it was too realistic. Timeless just had their season finale and dropped some major plot bombs yesterday—the thing is, from what I’ve seen, the show hasn’t been renewed for a second season. I hope it gets renewed because it is a show that has just enough intrigue but a lot of lighthearted comedic moments, too. This is Us has turned out to be a hit that I’ve loved more than expected because the characters are written with such layers. Also, Mandy Moore is awesome. And Big Bang Theory just keeps getting better as it ages, I think. I am curious what they are going to do with Koothrappali—is he closeted gay?? Just some weird stuff and innuendos being thrown around this season.

Over on PBS the return of Sherlock in early January filled the gap where Downton Abbey had previously been. I thought I was going to have another gap to fill until we got to Call the Midwife in April but Victoria has filled that niche wonderfully. It ends here in a few weeks, though. Somehow I missed that Mercy Street had returned. I think it aired after Downton Abbey last year but this year it has been airing before Victoria and my DVR didn’t catch it to record. I will probably just catch up with it online instead.

Over on Showtime, Homeland has started back and I was a little ‘meh’ on the season as it started. While I really like the actor Rupert Friend, I was surprised to see him back as Peter Quinn after that horrific situation he was in last season. I mean, if this was real life he would be dead. That said, Sunday’s episode finally catapulted the season into something watchable and now I’m intrigued again. Also, I think Dar Adal is a bad guy. Remember season 4????

Netflix has been my go-to for when I’m looking to be lazy and I’ve come across a lot of good things there recently. If you haven’t binged The Crown yet, get on it! So much about a time period I’m not that familiar with. I never thought I could see Matt Smith as anything but The Doctor but he is a damn charming Prince Phillip. The OA is a series I started seeing a few people mentioning and honestly? I think it’s better than Stranger Things. It’s a show that kind of came out of nowhere and bam! it hits you upside the head. So. Many. Questions!

A few movies on Netflix I’ve enjoyed have been Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, The Cobbler (cute movie with Adam Sandler, definitely different), A Royal Night Out for if you need more royalty after watching The Crown, The Fundamentals of Caring, Tallulah, and two documentaries My Beautiful Broken Brain and The White Helmets. I started 13th but haven’t finished it yet. I know I’ve watched some other movies but I can’t remember them right now. Oh, wait, The Switch with Jennifer Aniston.

Got any books or movies to recommend to me?


  • Chris G.

    This is Us has them living in Bethel Park! I started watching it because of that. Not that into it yet, but it’s ok.

    Love The Crown and Victoria. Makes me think every decent actor in the UK has been on Doctor Who! Good stuff.

    Couldn’t get into the OA, but I’ll keep trying. I’m very bummed out that we gave up Starz and HBO…no Outlander or GOT 🙁

  • chel

    I got into Ann Patchett, too, late last year. Then “The Big Buddhism” happened and my life is pretty much all Pali canon and textbooks, which isn’t a terrible thing at all since it’s like a whole new world and new circumstances and a new cast to learn about. When 2500+ year old scripture translated from an ancient Indian language is a good way to escape, you know that things are awry in the current world 😉

    I love podcasts and biographical audiobooks but every time I try and listen to anything fiction, it puts me to sleep. However, I heard that the audio book of “Lincoln in the Bardo” is amazing- it has a cast of 150+. Everything I’ve read about it is outrageously positive, so I might actually get my audio book butt in gear for that one and make time for it.

  • chel

    p.s. OA was amazing. If you like it, you should check out all the movies that Brit Marling has made, especially Another Earth (which I think is on Netflix, too). They all have the same eerie mysterious thing going on. She’s amazing, and almost everything she gets involved in is high quality. I’m surprised she’s not hailed as a visionary, in a way.

  • Patrice

    I’ll have to check out “On Trails.” Never heard of it, but I am usually behind the times.

    I started binge watching “This is Us” the week Justin was in the hospital. My MIL had it on demand. Oh boy. Did it give me the cry I needed every day on my break from the hospital!! Now I am so far behind in the season. We have occasionally gotten NBC with our old school antenna, but not lately (we aren’t getting anything lately!).

    Also, aren’t you the one who told us about the Wire? Watching it now. Crown will be next!

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