Books About Books

Ryan made the observation once that I seem to enjoy books that are about books. The more I think about it, the more I’m inclined to agree. If I read that a book is about an author or involves other written works or even just about the art form of writing, I’m intrigued.

There are many reasons I’m looking forward to the new Cormoran Strike novel (I pre-ordered my copy, have you ordered yours yet?) and one of them is that the client in question is an author and his disappearance seems to be related to what he’s currently working on. I am currently making my way through The Salinger Contract, the first book I’ve *read* not listened to in months. I am enjoying the experience, both the book and the paper reading. This book, as well, is about authors writing and relating to other authors. I’ll come back when I finish, but so far I’m really into it.

Since us bibliophiles love few things more than lists, I thought I’d compile a list of books I’ve enjoyed about books!

The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon — These are the crowning jewels of my list! The first and second installments in “The Cemetery of Forgotten Books” series. Both are tremendous and beautiful works of literature. The Cemetery of Forgotten Books is hide away catacomb in Barcelona where books of  all calibers are brought and kept if for no other reason to prove that they exist. Both The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel’s Game stem from books found and discarded in The Cemetery. In the first, a young boy picks a book that is being hunted down by a firy phantom. The second shows a much darker side of written words, and what becomes of men who attempt to write the divine. I really can’t do these books justice, they are fantasic and endearing. I just found out there is a third installment!

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield — Margaret Lea is asked to ghost write a biography for a famed author. As her life unfolds the author’s family dark history begins to intrigue and frighten Margaret Lea.

Plot it Yourself by Rex Stout — A good ole Nero Wolfe mystery from the late 1950’s.  The answer to “who done it?” is found by comparing the all author suspects’  tone, phrasing and word choice. Even Archie gets in on the literary analysis!

The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley — Bestselling author, Carrie McClellend hopes to use the ruins of an 18th century castle as the setting for her new book. But the more time she spends on the Scottish crags the more she dreams of the people who once lived there. This inspiration unnerves McClellend as she discovers those who come to her in her dreams may well have been living members of the castle household.

Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James — Essentially a good murder mystery in the guise of Jane Austen fan fiction. Wickham is murdered in a most sudden and suspicious way 5 years after Elizabeth and Darcy say “I do”. In finding the murderer and the motive, Jane Austen’s classic work is reminisced with some startling new details.

Out of the Flames by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone (non-fiction) — The heretical works of Michael Servetus haunt him around 16th century Europe ultimately giving John Calvin reason to burn Servetus at the stake. Long after Servetus’ death, his works take on a life of their own surviving into the 21st century among the rarest books in the world.

The Professor and The Madman by Simon Winchester (non-fiction) — The strange true story of the Oxford English Dictionary’s most prolific and eccentric contributor.

Deconstructing Penguins by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone(non-fiction) — A guide to teaching basic literary analysis to children, helping them further enjoy and understand the books they read.

Books About Books


Are there any books about books you enjoy? Is there some small subset of literature genres you gravitate towards?

Cormoran Strike Draws Ever Closer

Of course July is greatly anticipated in our house as we prepare for Genevieve. But does it make me a bad parent to admit, I may be more excited about June when Cormoran Strike comes back? Maybe that just makes me a mother of 4. Let’s not dwell on it.

Moving on, I just double checked Barnes and Noble’s website and they have an official availability date for the new Cormoran Strike novel, The Silkworm! The last time I checked, it was unclear if the US release date would be within three months of the UK release. Now it seems all is well and the book will be released here JUNE 19!!!

Here is the B&N link, you can pre-order for $21. And on that note, if anyone wants to gift me $21, that’d be cool.  As I may be waiting until our local library gets a copy, please don’t ruin the book for me come June 20th. Please and thank you!

Watermelon Birthday Party

Cake Table (2)








This weekend we celebrated Reuben’s first and Felicity’s second birthdays! Felicity’s birthday isn’t until this Saturday, so for the rest of this week we have two one year olds in the house. It makes us feel so tired. However, the party was a lot of fun and I waned to share some of the simple crafts and such I did to match the “theme”

Watermelon “Happy Birthday” Banner

There are quite a few of these available on Etsy, but when I started crunching the numbers, I decided I could easily make my own and it would be significantly cheaper. To make it I used:

  • white poster board
  • lime green poster board
  • red card stock
  • string
  • scotch tape

I intended to buy a red poster board, but apparently they are harder to come by or something, so I used red card stock. If you’re lucky enough to find red poster board, it will work just as well. I wanted to use something sturdier than construction paper.

I knew the overall shape I wanted and made each pendant out of three pieces — one of each color stacked on each other. I started with the red and cut a pie piece. I used it as a templet to cut out the white piece and likewise with the green.

I needed 15 of each piece to spell out Happy Birthday plus have two blank ones to go on either side of “happy”. This was the only tedious part. Once all the pieces were cut out, I began gluing them together. Once each pendant was assembled, I free-handed the lettering. Obviously you can use a stencil or stickers if you don’t trust your handwriting or if you’re more of a perfectionist than I am. For the two extra pendants, I drew on tear drop shaped seeds on the red part.

Banner (7)

I laid out each row face down. Remember to lay them down in a mirror image of the word — for the “happy” banner, lay the pendants down left to right Y-P-P-A-H. I used scotch tape to attach each pendant to the string and voila!

Pictures Mounted on Canvas

I’ve done one of these for each birthday party with the current\birthday picture matching the theme of the party. This time, since it was a double party I had to coordinate the canvases with each other and the decor. To make these I used:

  • 8×10 stretched canvas
  • 8×10 picture
  • 12×12 scrapbook paper
  • Mod Podge
  • sponge brush

picture (5)

Start by brushing a thin layer of Mod Podge on the top of the canvas. Center the scrapbook paper and glue down. Work Mod Podge around the edges and back and wrap around the paper all the way around. Once the paper is set you can mount the picture. Again, use a thin layer of Mod Podge on the top and set the picture. Once the picture is in place, brush more Mod Podge over the top of the picture and around the edges. This top coat will add texture to the picture and also hold the picture on better. I use one coat, but you can do multiple coats or use a different finish Mod Podge to attain a thicker texture.

Fruit Kabobs

These are pretty straight forward and just a cute variation on your every day fruit tray. On wooden skewers, I threaded watermelon, three green grapes, pineapple, apple and repeat. I chose watermelon and green grapes to match the colors of the party, then just added whatever else sounded good and could be cut up in kabob size pieces.

Kabobs (3)














Marx Brothers Gem

Last night we found the most unexpected and delightful surprise from an AFI movie yet. We watched our second Marx Brother’s movie, A Night at the Opera (1935). We were enjoying the zany antics and quarky puns when out of nowhere, Chico sits down at a piano. We both grinned waiting for a cacophony of comedy from Chico. But what did we get instead? Chico…actually *playing* the piano. Playing well and for-real but also with a comedic flare. We were spell-bound watching the screen in disbelief!

Because, of course they can play instruments!

Our New Nook

I don’t think many families consider kitchen renovations among their nesting to-do’s.  However, we convinced ourselves before Genevieve comes, among other things, our kitchen needed some sprucing up. A month and a half ago I got to show off the awesome built-in mail organizer my dad made for us. After a few weeks off, he was back!

This idea came about before the ink was dry on the purchase agreement a year and a half ago. When we bought our house, there was a laminate cabinet unit installed in the far corner of the kitchen under a corner shelf and tv stand. The TV stand didn’t last long and the mail organizer by the fridge did away with the need for the shelf.

Kitchen Before (3)

Our kitchen is long and wide. Wider than a galley kitchen, but not wide enough for a full breakfast nook. Our idea was to add some seating with a small table for the girls to be able to sit and color or what-have-you while we are in the kitchen. I’ll come back later with more details about the design and building process. Mostly I just wanted to show off this beautiful, custom kitchen banquet we now have in our kitchen!

002 (2)

It looks so natural in this spot and fills the corner perfectly. A table is still forthcoming. My parents found one at a flea market in Pensacola that needs a little lovin’. After all the work that went into making the banquet, we’re going to live with the table as is for a while. That also gives us time to decide how best to modify it.

Before and After Kitchen Banquet Before and After 2

With custom fitting and design, this was not a quick project. But in the grand scheme of what Pinterest calls DIY, it was simple. And it makes such a difference! To me, this bench makes more sense for the kitchen than the stand alone cabinet. It also significantly adds to the quality, aesthetic and functionality of our house. I know I didn’t build it, but I am so proud of this banquet!

You may also noticed my stenciled frames hung up in all their glory! I’m working on ideas to make those walls a gallery or collage corner. There’s still more deciding to be done on that end, but right now I’m so happy with my bright picture frames and adorable pictures of the kids.

built in kitchen banquet

We’re starting up the third trimester and Reuben and Felicity’s birthdays are drawing closer. After their party, phase two of baby prep begins. With the completion of this project, I’m willing to call Phase 1 done!

Phase One To-Do List:

  • move bookshelves to master bedroom
  • move changing table to Reuben’s room
  • set up children’s library
  • install shelves in hall closet
  • install shelf in Reuben’s closet
  • move chest of drawers to Reuben’s room
  • install cornice board in girls’ room
  • build in kitchen mail organizer 
  • build in kitchen banquet


The French Connection–But Why??

We’ve been trucking along on our movie goal to watch AFI’s top 100 movies of all time. Since my last post, we’ve watched: The French Connection, Do the Right Thing and Blade Runner.

It is both fun and risky watching these movies which we don’t really know or have any preconceived notions about. I think it’s fair to say we enjoyed Do The Right Thing (the first Spike Lee movie either of us have watched). The sudden turn at the end took us by surprise and we had to sleep on it before we could even put any thoughts together about it. Glad to have seen it.

The French Connection, however, not so much. Honestly, we got to the end (a laborious task indeed) and both asked “why is this even on the list??” Roger Ebert wrote the year it came out about the car chase scene and the dynamics of Popeye’s character. We read the review, and we respect that Ebert knew what he was talking about, but neither of us could see where he was coming from. We agreed that maybe it was something special in 1971 when it came out, but it doesn’t seem to be much of an enduring film. The main character wasn’t relateable or even love-to-hateable, the pace was elongated, not suspenseful and the plot both overly simple and over done at the same time. We’re not opposed to cop movies, just this one I guess.

Eh, win some lose some, I guess. What made me mad though, was that The French Connection won over Fiddler on the Roof in Best Movie, Best Director and Best Leading Actor at the 44th Academy Awards. Cannot believe it. Fiddler on the Roof, Norman Jewison and Topol are all vastly superior to The French Connection et al in my opinion. And, can I just say it, Fiddler on the Roof has a much better grasp on the use of the violin.

Fiddler on the Roof > The French Connection
Fiddler on the Roof > The French Connection

We’re working our way up from the bottom of the list. Of the final 10, we have a handful left:

90. Swing Time (1936)

91. Sophie’s Choice (1982) — Ryan has not seen, but I will not watch again

92. Goodfellas (1990)

93. The French Connection (1971)

94. Pulp Fiction (1994

95. The Last Picture Show (1971)

96. Do The Right Thing (1989)

97. Blade Runner (1982)

98. Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)

99. Toy Story (1995)

100. Ben Hur (1959)