Lots of Reading and Just a Little Sewing

It's been so long since the last needle & thREAD that I'm not sure I can remember everything I've read since we last visited. It's been a very busy reading summer. I've listened to audiobooks for several hours a week as I walk (and run). I started off on a major philosophical/self-improvement trail and made an abrupt turn into fiction.

Actually, it was a friend who suggestion the fictional diversion. I'd been reading Anna Quindlen on midlife and John Gottman on marriage and then on to the really excellent book on habits. I ran out of Audible credit ;-), so I went and reread The Happiness Project and Happier at Home. I truly love both those books. I find them joyful and uplifting and inspiring. Gretchen Rubin resonates with me. I "get" her and I think, if she knew me, we'd be fast friends. 

But all the self-improvement was beginning to sow seeds of discontent. A friend suggested taking a break on seriousness (even happy seriousness) and just indulging in fiction. The problem was that I really haven't read fiction (except for shared fiction with my kids) since cancer. I'm not sure why. I haven't watched movies, either. I think that the inevitable plot complex, with its conflict and its pain, always hits a nerve too sharply. But still, all that self-improvement...

So, I started with Evensong. I think it was the quote on this post of Anne Bogel's that intrigued me. I bought the print version. I read the first few chapters. Then I read the end, just to assuage my anxiety. It was as if I could bear to "feel" along with the characters as long as I knew how it would all resolve. I enjoyed Evensong. Some of the characters were a bit too odd to ring true to me, but the story carried me along and fiction turned out to be a good idea.

Then, I read the print version of What Alice Forgot. I've been eyeing this one for quite sometime. The plot intrigued me. A 39-year-old woman passes out at the gym, hits her head, and forgets the the previous ten years. When she comes to, she thinks she's a happily married 29-year-old about to have her first child. Instead, she's an about-to-be-divorced mother of three. Throughout the course of the book, the young woman she was discovers the middle-aged woman she is and teaches her a lesson or two. I really loved this book. It is the kind of book that sticks with you. It was artfully crafted and well-written. It held up to all my microscopic ifs, ands, and buts. Actually, I'd really like to talk about it more. Maybe we could meet up here in a couple weeks and have a book discussion? I will warn you: despite my best efforts not to, I binge read this one. Bet you can't read just one chapter at a time.

After that, I read Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. It's a book on writing. And on life. I listened to this one and really loved the narrator. The book is excellent, but it's on fiction writing, something I'm quite certain I will never attempt. Still, I took away several points of self-improvement. Oh, dear. There we go again.

After Anne Lamott, I thought I'd give Annie Dillard a try. I started listening to The Writing Life. it was too ethereal. Too much work. I didn't get it. Maybe I'll try again when I don't have to concentrate quite so hard on running form while I listen. 

Most recently, after loving Liane Moriarty in What Alice Forgot, I listened to The Last Anniversary. There were parts of this story I thought were excellent. Postpartum depression (and postpartum psychosis) is explored--and very well, I think. The relationship of depression to poor attachment in childhood was one I found very real and expertly crafted.

I liked Sophie, a rich character of Moriarity's girl-next-door variety.  As in What Alice Forgot , one of the protagonists is 39 and at a crossroads of sorts--only this one is unmarried and without children, but really wants both. 

I finished this one this morning. One thing about audiobooks, it's a little harder to cheat and read the end before the rest of the story (though not impossible, certainly). I made myself read the book in order this time and I'm proud of myself for it. This self-discipline contributed to binge listening. And after all that effort, I found the ending of this book to be a little disturbing and very disappointing. I'm annoyed;-).


Sewing? Kristin was sewing herself some tops a few weeks ago. When she showed me the troubles she was having with them, I thought maybe she could benefit from the brilliantly crafted and even more brilliantly explained patterns of Liesl Gibson. So, we went through all my Oliver & S patterns and chose one I've made several times, but never in a size tiny. We found some very cute stashed Anna Maria Horner Little Folks flannel and I stayed close by while Kristin let Liesl teach her to sew. The shirt is darling and I know Kristin got pictures, but she's got a blog and I'm not going to steal her thunder. ;-)

Oh, and did you see? There is "Miss Kate" yardage at the Fat Quarter Shop. I think that this line is going to go well with Bonnie and Camille fabric I still have stashed. I think I might let my Miss Kate do a little shopping. 

Tell me what you've been reading. What about sewing? What does fiction do for you? I asked for favorite audiobook choices on Facebook and got a wonderful, wonderful list. Chime in here with your favorite books and I'll be so very happy to make us a great big list to listen to together.