Thursday, July 10, 2014

For the Record: June 2014

Turns out, a proper vacation is just what I needed to get my reading life moving along.  Isn't it always? Being halfway through the year, I can see that I am quite a bit under my target number (of books to read each year) but wonderfully enough, I'm totally fine with that.  I've enjoyed the reading I have done, so nothing else really matters much.

6 Books Read in June: (34 year-to-date)

1 Nonfiction:
  - Devil in the White City, Erik Larson (4.5) Incredible nonfiction here!  I had to keep reminding myself that this story was for realz. I enjoyed reading Thunderstruck, but was blown away by Devil in the White City.  That is not to say that it was perfect...I think that Larson tends to include too many names in his narrative instead of finding other ways to include those extra fascinating details...but it still doesn't get much better than this. I listened to this on audio, and thought the narrator did a fabulous job.  If you haven't read this, put it on your list.

1 From my Shelf:
  - Cloudsplitter, Russell Banks (4) This book was 758 pages.  That's one important thing about it. Other than that significant fact (which kept it on my shelf for over a decade before I was finally guilted into reading it) it's a pretty great read.  It almost felt like a real account from pre-Civil War America at times, I was so thoroughly immersed in the story.  This was the story of John Brown (of Harpers Ferry fame) and his fanatical abolitionist actions, this was a wonderful perspective on the Civil War.

4 Vacation Reads:
  - Please Ignore Vera Dietz, A.S. King (3) Sent in the Book Riot Quarterly box as an exemplary example of Young Adult Fiction, this troubled-teen-story didn't knock my socks off.  It was an interesting story, but didn't seem deeply felt.  The characters were a little thin, the edgy content didn't feel entirely genuine, and overall wasn't very compelling.  Maybe I'm just super picky, but it wasn't very memorable. My socks were still all the way on.
  - The Sisters Mortland, Sally Beauman (4) Surprisingly enjoyable story in the same vein as The Thirteenth Tale.  Some mystery and intrigue, a touch of the unreliable narrator, and a lovely British setting had me turning the pages quickly.  Being stuck in bed with a sprained ankle turned it into a mini read-a-thon, and reading it quickly probably improved my opinion of it in general. Still, if you liked The Thirteenth Tale or have enjoyed any of Kate Morton's book, this one may please as well.
  - Flora, Gail Goodwin (3.5) I loved the setting in this book: a small mountain town in the American South at the end of WWII. The mood reminded me somewhat of To Kill a Mockingbird.  There were some POV/timeline issues for me, that ended up pulling me out of the story and meant I wasn't very invested in the ending.  Still, solid and enjoyable.
  - Longbourn, Jo Baker (3) I wasn't going to read this one, but the cover art is so gorgeous and everyone was talking about how good it was.  So I read it, and concurrently discovered that I am a Jane Austen Purist.  I was entranced by the idea of hearing from the servants' perspective, but that's about where the fascination ended.  The story didn't stand on its own, which compounded the feeling that the details were all gratuitous.  It might as well have been a behind-the-scenes-of-the-Keira-Knightly-version of Pride and Prejudice.  And there...when I heard myself think that, I knew I was a purist. Sorry, turns out I've got a bit of a snob in me after all.  It wasn't bad, but it wasn't as good as the cover art.

          


5 Current Reads:
  - King Dork, Frank Portman.  My current book club book, I'm hoping to tear through it this weekend.
  - The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, Gabrielle Zevin.  I just started this audio book and I'm already hooked.  Fun stuff!
  - James and the Giant Peach, Roald Dahl. Reading aloud to my 10yo daughter.
  - Big Mouth & Ugly Girl, Joyce Carol Oates. Reading with my 13yo daughter.
  - MFA vs. NYC, edited by Chad Harbach. This was brought to my attention by Carrie (NomadReader).  It's a collection of essays about current American fiction.  I'm really enjoying it as a way to widen my view on how things are working in publishing.

        

On My Nightstand:
Even though there's a ton of work left on my house project, I've started to think in terms of what books I'll read before I move back into my home.  It's kind of a weird feeling, since that might be close to the end of the year, but I'm just so excited at the thought of nearing the end of this phase of my life. Somehow, this makes me want to read some of the books that have been on my shelf for quite a while, but who knows if I will?  I don't have anything lined up right now, except for perhaps All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.  That's been calling my name. Have you read it?

Saturday, July 5, 2014

L.A. to New York, Iceland to Spain, and Back Again

Vacation is over. In many ways it was exhausting, as active holidays often are, but I think I ultimately succeeded in unwinding.  I came back home eager and ready to finish designing our house project, instead of trying to avoid it, and that's saying something!

We were gone for two weeks, with our first mini-stop in New York City.  Instead of spending our nine hour layover sitting in the airport, we decided to head into the city and squeeze in some extra sightseeing. We ate at Mario Batali's restaurant, Del Posto, in Manhattan and absolutely fell in love with the Chelsea area.

There are few cities I've visited that I felt like I could live in,  (Dublin.  That's probably it.) and I honestly wasn't prepared to like NYC (I thought I'd be claustrophobic and on edge. I'm used to spread-out-California.) so it surprised me.  I loved the style, the literature, the music, the pace, the people.  I want to go back!

After that brief excursion, our first main stop was Iceland.  We've long been intrigued by Iceland (the music scene, the remoteness) and finally decided to go. We aren't big hikers or backpackers, so we were rather oddball tourists there...when we travel we really love to see the architecture and history, and experience the people, food, and culture.  Iceland offered plenty of those things, so we didn't feel like we were missing out by not being super outdoorsy.

We inadvertently visited during summer solstice, so it never really got dark the entire time we were there.  The sun officially set around midnight and rose around 3am, but the sky never actually gets past dusk.  The landscape is so interesting in Iceland—very volcanic with moss and some wildflowers, but very few trees outside the city.

Apart from Reykjavik, we visited the Blue Lagoon: geothermal hot springs with natural salinity and silica clay that give the water its signature color.  The weather was actually quite temperate, considering how far north the island is.  All the people we met were friendly, and the food was good (though there were a surprising number of hot dog and hamburger joints).  They love skateboarding, and I was thrilled that we happened across a small competition on one of the days we were there...I missed my kiddos.

The Blue Lagoon.
Midnight sunset in Reykjavik.
The Laundromat Cafe...that's my kind of decorating!

Art in Barcelona.  :)

After Iceland, we traveled to warmer climates.  We spent a few days in Barcelona, and then met up with my brother-in-law in Ibiza and Mallorca. I sprained my ankle in Barcelona, so we didn't get to do as much exploring as we wanted to, but it all ended up working out.  We became soccer converts (that's a big deal for us non-sports people) and watched many a World Cup match in one of the local cafes. We also went to the Picasso Museum strolled through the Gothic Quarter.

The islands were beautiful...especially seeing them from the water.  I'm not a big boat person, but  Ibiza wouldn't have been nearly as wonderful if only seen by land.  It was worth the rocking and rolling, the perpetual equilibrium distortion, and the challenge of getting on and off a boat with a sprained ankle.  We didn't go to any clubs, though that seems to be what Ibiza is known for (thank goodness because that really isn't my scene) but had plenty of good people watching.





Seeing the progress on our house when we arrived back home was another treat.  The walls have been insulated, and the finish work is progressing.  It's starting to come together!  I can't wait for the day when my time can be used for reading and writing instead of house design and decisions.

I did get some good reading time in while I was away, but that'll have to wait for the next post.  For now, happy summer and happy reading.

Cedar siding in the master bedroom.  So pretty!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

For the Record: May 2014

The speed with which the last month has evaporated is truly astonishing. I wrote a wonderful post about getting out of reading slumps, but Blogger dumped it into oblivion and I didn't have the motivation to recreate it.  Basically, I've been having a hard time with long or slow books, but have been pushing myself through anyhow.

We are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel with our house project, and are hoping to be able to move back this autumn. We've passed our rough inspections and are getting ready to start insulating and installing floors, drywall and tile. I am more than ready for it to be done, and I can't wait to get my books back on their shelves!

3 Books Read in May: (28 year-to-date)

1 Nonfiction/Classic/Book Club:
  - 12 Years a Slave, Solomon Northup (4.5) I recently watched the film, and then had the pleasure to read it for book club.  The movie followed the book remarkably well.  Such an incredible first hand account of American slavery.

1 Read Aloud to my kiddos:
  - Folk of the Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton (4) The end of the trilogy - these will go down as some of my daughter's favorite childhood books for sure.

1 Other:
  - I Shall Be Near to You, Erin Lindsay McCabe (4.5) An impulse buy at my local book shop and SO worth it.  I was sobbing in bed at midnight because it was just that kind of book.  Based on true accounts of women who followed their husbands in to the American Civil War, it is necessarily both touching and (when the time comes) harrowing.

    


2 Current Reads:
  - Cloudsplitter, Russell Banks.  I'm still reading this. It has been very good, just Long.  On page 500 of 750+ so I'm finally getting there.
  - Devil in the White City, Erik Larson.  I'm still listening to this. Also very good, just haven't had much time for audio lately.  I'm over halfway though.

      

On My Nightstand:
I have a 2 week vacation approaching (celebrating my 20th anniversary!) so I'm beginning to decide what to take along with me. My goal is to have finished Cloudsplitter and be able to move onto other things. What those will be, I'm not quite sure. Perhaps I'll finally finish Les Miserables!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

On Creativity

When life gets too crazy or stressful to allow for my usual creative outlets, the pressure builds.  All the creativity that typically gets unleashed while pondering the latest book I've read is left to erupt in bursts of imagination at odd intervals throughout the day and night.  I'll have full stories bloom in thin air: dreams that wake me up laughing, characters that start telling me their stories as I drive kids home from school.  Each stranger I see (and there are a lot in SoCal) inspires an elaborate story.  I'm not crazy, honest, I'm just a creative soul without an outlet.

This state cannot continue for long.  It's my brain's way of cluing me in that something has got to change.  The default accompaniment is a driving desire to get out of the city as soon as may be—also a signal that I need to slow down.  A change of pace is in order. Regardless of all the things that need doing, I need to make time for the basics.


Last weekend we finally got ourselves over to the Getty Museum.  It was a perfect day (other than the traffic on the 405 which is always horrid): blue skies, cool breeze, no crowds.  One of the feature exhibits right now is Jackson Pollack's Mural.  I've been wanting to see a Pollack painting in person for quite a while; I'd long ago decided this was the only way to have a proper opinion on his work.  Would it feel chaotic? elementary? inspired?

My 13yo daughter (the artist) and I walked into the room where it was hung and our breath was taken away.  Inspired.  No doubt about it. There is so much life in that painting that it kind of made me want to cry.  That is art.  That is the reaction I hope to find when I open a book.  It really doesn't look like much on screen, but when you get a little closer it is pretty incredible.

(want to know more about this painting? click here)
Also, I must say that the staff here was amazing.  They were always ready to smile and help, even approaching to compliment and engage in conversation with my kiddos. When my 13yo daughter asked one of them what it's like to stand in the same room all day, we ended up with an entertaining and informative lesson on tapestries, history, art, and people.  When we left, the lady at the exit saw my daughter and exclaimed, "Oh, I remember your beautiful blue eyes!" (Living in L.A. is often more isolated than life in a small town, and these personal interactions are not necessarily the norm. My daughter has a way of asking people questions that get them laughing and talking, but this was more than usual. Definitely a treat!)


So, I haven't been doing too much reading lately, and I've desperately wanted to escape to my beloved NorCal mountains, but I'm finding my way through.  I've been forcing myself to sleep more and reminding myself that school is almost out for summer break.  Before long, the craziness of rebuilding a huge house will be winding down, and I'll be able to breathe, to read, to write.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

For the Record: April 2014

I didn't read much this month, which surprised me since it didn't feel that way.  I suppose I was busy (our house rebuild still absorbs tons of time) and the month just disappeared. Plus, Willa Cather had me procrastinating.  There were no huge standouts, though Under the Overpass has stuck with me the longest.

4 Books Read in April: (25 year-to-date)

1 Classic:
  - Death Comes for the Archbishop, Willa Cather (3) It makes me sad to have to give three stars to a book by Willa Cather! But, as I said in my review, this was really much too slow and meandering for my taste.  It was more successful at filling in a gap in my history reading than being an enjoyable novel. This was the twelfth book of hers I've read (of twenty published works) and unfortunately, the least enjoyable so far.

1 for Book Club:
  - Me Before You, Jojo Moyes (3) Coming on the heels of such popular successes as The Rosie Project and Eleanor & Park in my recent reading, and being generally just as adored, I had high expectations for this book and ended up being majorly let down.  The characters were rather stereotypical, the plot rather predictable, and the writing and construction very unrefined.  It was enjoyable, but in an empty sort of way.  I won't be surprised, however, if I'm alone in that opinion at my book club meeting tomorrow.  For some reason it seems to be a tear-jerker for most girls, but not even close for me.

1 Nonfiction:
  - Under the Overpass, Mike Yankoski (3.5) This was loaned to me by a book club friend.  Homelessness is an obvious issue where I live, and I've always struggled with wanting to help without enabling.  This book really allowed me to give the issue some serious thought, and has stayed in my head...pops back in every day when I'm confronted with the homeless around me.

1 Other:
  - The Position, Meg Wolitzer (3.5) The Position had many similarities in style, though I didn't love it quite as much as the Interestings. I love Woltzer's talent for writing about mundane life in a way that is anything but boring.  She is also amazing at the pacing and structure of her storytelling.  She'll be an author I return to.

      


2 Current Reads:
  - Cloudsplitter, Russell Banks.  My 15yo son was horrified when he found out that this book had been a gift from my husband almost fifteen years ago, and yet still sat unread on my shelf.  Horrified.  All those years of rejection: he couldn't even fathom the depths of injustice I'd inflicted upon the earth.  He made me promise I would rectify the situation immediately.  (He has a very strong sense of justice.)  I'm at page 139 of 759 total, and thoroughly enjoying it so far.
  - Devil in the White City, Erik Larson.  I haven't had much available audiobook time lately, but I'm about a quarter through and it is wonderfully fascinating.  I wish I didn't have to concentrate so much when I'm homeschooling or house-designing...I want to listen to my book!

      

On My Nightstand:
There is so much I want to read, and I honestly don't know what will be next.  These are the two that I keep looking at on my nightstand:

  - Longbourn, Jo Baker (sounds like my kind of light reading!)
  - With or Without You, Domenica Ruta (a former Indiespensable pick that I'd like to move off the shelf.)

  

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Death Comes for the Archbishop, Willa Cather

Looks like I've found my least favorite Willa Cather novel.  So far. (I still have three other novels on my journey to read her published works chronologically.)  This pretty much stinks, both because many people adore this one (my husband says I'm a literature rebel) and because I've adored everything else of hers.  I didn't hate it, it isn't terrible, it was just really boring for me.  Like Gilead. (So chances are, if you loved that one, you'll love this one too.)

It felt so much slower than her other books, with less focus on the characters.  True, the landscape in this book (New Mexico) isn't much my thing.  Nor is the period in history (1850s acquisition of new territories) one that is currently entrancing me.  Nor is the subject matter (the Catholic church) one that holds my interest.  So if you are interested in those things I imagine you would have much better luck.

It spurred surging desires to jump into a bookstore and buy new books, which (I'm proud to say) I channeled into a more productive action: barreling through the last hundred pages so I could move on to one of the other lovelies on my shelf. The writing was breathtaking at times (as to be expected from Willa Cather) so I had to share a quote.  Maybe someday I'll be moving at a slower pace and will be better equipped to enjoy stories such as this, but for now I'm just glad I'm done!

"...you should not be discouraged; one does not die of a cold." 
The old man smiled.  "I shall not die of a cold, my son, I shall die of having lived."

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Being the Lucky One (The Interestings, Eleanor & Park, The Rosie Project)

Guys, I've read some really great books lately. So good that I don't even feel bad that I haven't read any nonfiction yet this year (although I am working on fixing that).  I want to talk about each of them, but first thought I'd ponder on a thought that struck me today.  I've thought about it before, but it really sunk in again today.

It's the idea of being the Lucky One.  Lucky in love, lucky in life, (what have you).  It's easy to look at being lucky as an extension of being grateful—I'm lucky I have wonderful parents.  But it gets interesting when you consider being lucky in the face of personality or lifestyles because so much hinges on perception.

In her song, Alison Krauss sings, "Give you a song and a one night stand, you'll be looking at a happy man, 'cause you're the lucky one."  While her song makes it sound as if she doesn't actually envy the person in question, there is some truth to that sentiment. It must be easier to live a life free of contemplation, longing, and regret.  Is it luckier to be the person who thinks deeper and observes more, or the one unbothered by convictions?

It's Complicated: I started thinking about this again because my husband will soon be going on a sailing trip, while I'll be staying home taking care of the kiddos...which spurred loads of feeling-sorry-for-myself.  Not because I want to sail also, but because I feel like I am easy to leave behind.  Honestly, this is mostly emotion rather than truth but I started thinking...would I rather be the one who finds it easier to leave?  Sometimes that sounds quite enticing. But if that meant giving up all my deep thoughts and contemplations, then I'm cool.  I'd rather feel deeply.  But that's a matter of perspective if I've ever seen one...things are never that simple.

That's what I liked about The Interestings.  Meg Wolitzer doesn't pretend that life is simple, that you have one main story arc and none of the other details matter.  We Are Complicated.  And so are her characters (and I love that).  Still, the first third of the book had me convinced that I'd be bored until the very end. You see, I didn't much like the main character.  Jules wasn't a terrible person, but she nurtured envy, and that's a terrible place to be. She was jealous of her friends Ethan and Ash: they were the lucky ones.  Jules thought they were lucky because they had money, but I think they were lucky because they didn't suffer from a paralyzing envy.

I loved the way she told the story, and I loved how real the story was.  The story flipped between different times and different points of view, but it was handled so delicately, so expertly, that the telling was always smooth and easy to follow. If you enjoy themes that make you ponder and characters you feel you know, this is a book worth reading.  All 480 pages of it. (It doesn't feel that long, honest.)

And then there's Eleanor & Park.  Have you read this? Oh my.  My heart felt bruised after closing the cover.  I don't even know how to talk about it without gushing spoilers all over the place.  Set in the '80s (but not obnoxiously so) in Nebraska, we find Eleanor and Park: two teens whose story is anything but normal.

From the first glance, it is obvious that Eleanor doesn't fit in. As the story builds, however, we see what we've really known all along: we all have ways that we don't fit in, and we all just want to be loved in spite of it.  There are some serious issues that Rowell addresses that complicate the story, but what felt truly unique to me was the way she captured the incredible magic of young love. From the shocking realization that you have feelings for someone, to the unimaginable sensation when holding hands for the first time, and finally the wonder of having your quirks and secrets understood.  So often those things are underestimated or ignored, superimposing older experiences onto the relative innocence of youth.  I married my high school sweetheart, so perhaps that created an extra special connection to this book, but I think we can all relate to the awkwardness and novelty of a first love.

Finally, The Rosie Project. I tend to gravitate to depressing books, generally speaking...those stories
that I think are heartwarming are actually pretty sad.  When I am asked for a "happy book" recommendation, I come up rather empty.  It isn't that I don't like happy, it's just that happy is usually boring or typical.  Not so with The Rosie Project.  The writing is fairly simple and light, in contrast with the story itself which could have been written in a more serious tone.  The humorous touch serves to deepen the connection with the story, which really is a rather sweet one.

Don, professor of genetics, has some social-interaction-differences and has decided that the best way to go about finding the ideal mate is to develop a properly thorough questionnaire.  We all, at some point, have thought about what qualities would comprise the ideal mate.  Someone like ourselves, right?  Rarely do our ideas pan out in reality, and the same is the case for Don.  His journey to happiness brings many smiles along the way—I've finally found a happy book to recommend.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

For the Record: March 2014

I didn't do very good on my weekly-blogging-goal this month.  I also failed to read my Classics Club Spin book. And I haven't updated the Back the Classics stuff.  So, all around not a great month for reaching blog goals.  I've been working on a post about some of my recent favorites, but it has been slow in forming.  I don't know why some things seem to write themselves and others are slowly birthed.  It probably has to do with the depth of my thoughts and the amount of time I mull it over. Things that I actively ponder seem to come out fully composed.  I must not be doing that with this post!

I did, however, welcome a nephew (today!) and a near-niece (day before yesterday) and said goodbye to an uncle (at the beginning of the month) which makes it fairly natural that blogging would find itself on the back burner momentarily.  It meant that I completed some knitting projects, as that is portable/multi-taskable work.  I finished a baby blanket and three hats and put some more work into a sweater that is almost complete (the weather has been so warm that I find myself unmotivated on that end).  I also happened to squeeze in a trip to Napa, experience an earthquake in a theater built in 1924, and even found some time to read...not really sure how that happened but I'm not complaining!

Napa in the spring is such an incredibly lovely place...the morning mist just adds to the effect.

9 Books Read in March: (21 year-to-date)

3 Read Aloud to my 9 year-old:
  - The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton (4) My 9yo daughter can't get enough of the Faraway Tree.  This was the second in the series, and we've begun on the third (and final). Fun little adventures, if a bit predictable.  Good for the kiddos who like the innocence and fun of the older books.
  - Along Came a Dog, Meindert DeJong (3) We loved DeJong's The Wheel on the School, but this one wasn't quite as captivating.  The best parts were the moments described from a hen's point of view—you don't get that very often! Overall, though, it was a little slow.
  - The Sign of the Beaver, Elizabeth George Speare (4) This was a reread for me, but still quite enjoyable. It provides a fascinating glimpse into life as an early settler with a fully satisfying Native American involvement.

2 Audiobooks:
  - Half Broke Horses, Jeannette Walls (2) I've had this on my TBR list since reading The Glass Castle.  This one has been called a novel because Walls has filled in the details of her grandmother's life and written from her point of view, but it really is more of nonfiction/memoir style read.  I enjoyed the first part, but it started a downward spiral about halfway through.  By the end of the book I was quite thankful I'd never met the lady and couldn't wait to be done reading about her.  Don't get me wrong, she had quite an interesting life. But where other people saw a spunky personality, I saw meanness and selfishness. I'm sensitive to this perhaps, as I have extended family that classifies rudeness and a lack of consideration as humor and spunk, and I simply can no longer indulge that point of view.  Over and over, Lily justified how she treated her children because it was the means to her selfish goals. It was sad, and I think explained her daugher's demise into emotional/mental issues and homelessness.
  - The Sisters Brothers, Patrick DeWitt (4) I listened to this on audio because I thought I'd be bored with the book itself, but it was so much fun to listen to that I just may reread it (with my eyeballs this time) at some point.  The narrator did an excellent job capturing personalities and humor.  It's like a modern, funny True Grit, but totally stands on its own also.  If you enjoy tales of the Gold Rush or the Wild West, or if you like a Wes Anderson style of humor, check this one out.

3 New Books:
  - The Interestings, Meg Wolitzer (4.5) This is one of the books I've been wanting to blog about (hopefully that'll pull together soon!) because I was surprised how much I enjoyed it.  The negatives: it's on the long side, it was somewhat slow to start, and some won't like that it's character driven.  The reward is in how fully fleshed out her characters are and how expertly the story is told, not necessarily in the story arc itself.
  - Eleanor & Park, Rainbow Rowell (5)  This is another of the books I've been wanting to blog about! My heart felt bruised after closing the cover of this one. It might be a bit sentimental in some ways, but there was so much wonder and loveliness that I didn't care.
  - The Dinner, Herman Koch (3.5) Fun to read a modern book in translation, though stylistically it wasn't really my thing.  If you enjoy an unreliable narrator, however, this is a delight.

1 to Cross Off My List:
  - Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides (3) Once again, Everybody's Favorite left me cold. It happened with Owen Meany (most notably, since I couldn't even finish that one) and scores of others that I'm not going to waste the effort to remember.  I can see why people like it, really I can, but there is something about his style of writing...no, about the author himself and the things that speak to him, that I really don't connect with.  It wasn't a terrible read, but it wasn't wonderful either.

                


2 Current Reads:
  - Me Before You, Jojo Moyes.  My current book club book...I've just started so I don't have much to say. Lots of good reviews on this one, so we'll see!
  - Devil in the White City, Erik Larson.  I just started this on audio. It takes a little more work to listen to nonfiction, but Larson just might be the exception.

      

On My Nightstand:
I haven't been doing much planning on what books I'm reading, but I'll be heading out of town for a week and these are the books I might take with me:

  - The Big Burn, Timothy Egan
  - Death Comes to the Archbishop, Willa Cather
  - Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston
  - Longbourn, Jo Baker

      

Pass it on!