Currently: New House Edition

Hello, house!

We’re getting settled in our new home, and every day there’s so much progress and so much stuff added to the to-do list. But it’s all good stuff, and we’re getting through it swimmingly. The Dear Man makes everything better, even the endless rounds of garage door opener programming.

And today I’m sitting at the kitchen island with coffee in the special mug he gave me, and everything feels just right.

 

Here’s what else is cookin’ at the new Unruly Residence…

 

Reading | My reading life is disrupted all to heck because of the move. And I’m not complaining. Despite the flurry of activity, I finished re-reading Larry Watson’s masterpiece, Montana 1948, for a book discussion, and it was even more powerful than I’d remembered. And I finished Nomadland by Jessica Bruder for another book discussion just before the move. It was an unsettling thing to read while in transition, because it’s all about people who are displaced and migrant due to economic forces. Heck, it’d be unsettling anytime.

 

Listening | Since my commute has been reduced 95% (from 45 minutes to 2 [this is the part where I’m too excited even to flap; all I can do is get bug-eyed with wonder]), my audiobook listening boom time has come to a close. I’ll still always have an audiobook in the car, but it’ll be much slower going. And that’s a minuscule price to pay for those free hours I’m gaining as a non-commuter. During the move, I listened to Matthew Quick’s The Reason You’re Alive, which is magnificent on audio. If you like curmudgeonly narrators, give it a whirl.

 

Watching | Yeah, so the TV isn’t set up yet, so we’ve been watching exactly nothing. Except the occasional new homeowner YouTube how-to video on how to set up the garage door opener and thrilling new things like that.

 

Learning | I watched two YouTube videos about flower arranging, went to Trader Joe’s (right in the midst of our move), bought some hydrangeas, and I arranged those puppies! 

 

Loving | Our cat. She made the move and transitioned from Outdoor/Indoor to Indoor Only — all without a peep. We already knew she was the best in the world, but she’s seriously outdone herself. She’s one cool, calm, and collected cat.

 

 

Anticipating | One fine day, our house will be box-free and we will begin normal life. Until then, we’ll be unpacking and unpacking and unpacking… Seriously, people: Before the move, I KonMari’d twice.  I have no idea where all this stuff came from.

Celebrating | Every morning, waking up in the new place and looking through these huge windows… it’s one of life’s happiest miracles.

 

My fellow readers… what’s rocking your world this September?

Unruly Is Moving… and Moving Is Unruly

The Dear Man and I recently moved into our first home together, and he’s very much my favorite human ever, so the happiness level is unprecedented.

And our house is so beautiful, I can hardly stand it. I just keep flapping and bursting into spontaneous applause.

So: happy house. And: house beautiful. Also: house chaotic.

The place is so full of unpacked boxes, I can hardly sit still long enough to type these words.

The library currently looks like this…

 

…and it’ll probably be that way for a while. And I’m weirdly OK with that.

Because: the spices are alphabetized, the kitchen drawer dividers are in place, I whipped up a frittata for dinner, and there are flowers in a vase.

 

But in the moments when my mind wanders free, I ponder the Unruly Library and I dream big dreams.

In the short term, it’ll be a weird mish-mosh of bookcases (and not enough of them), but eventually…

One day, it’ll be a dream come true.

In the meantime, the big dream has become realized, and we’re living in this gorgeous, dreamy space that I can hardly believe is ours.

And in these moments, I know I am truly blessed.

So please tell me… What’s your best advice for people who’ve recently moved to a new place?

And so we say goodbye

My little house and I, we’ve been together for 21 1/2 years.

That’s a long stinkin’ time.

And now I’m spending one of the final evenings here in my little house, and the sad feeling is on me. Because this little house and I… we’ve been partners.

It’s sheltered me for those 21 years, and when it needed a new roof, I researched roofing companies and hired the very best one, and they took care of my little house’s little roof. And then that roof took care of me. There’s no place more snug than this little house in a thunderstorm or a blizzard.

That front door, I’ve varnished it every year. Some years, twice. And it’s welcomed me home every single day.

So now, as I face leaving my beautiful glamour wall library, I also face leaving the place where, as a solo homeowner, I’ve experienced some of my life’s most memorable moments of unadulterated joy.

And I’m grateful to this little house.

The leaving is a happy occasion—it’s downright jubilant!—but tonight I’m pausing to give thanks for this good place.

Shelfies: Children’s Literature

Today we conclude our tour of the Unruly Library with the little bookcase from my childhood nursery.

My mom must’ve known she had a little reader on the way, because she made sure there was a bookcase by my bed from the very beginning. (And she read aloud to me in the womb, which we both have always believed contributed enormously to how I turned out.)

Because it feels right, my children’s books—the ones that have survived year after year of librarian-like weeding cycles—are shelved in my childhood bookcase.

Here’s a list of the authors who dominate my childhood bookshelves, listed in the order in which I read them…

  • Beverly Cleary
  • Lois Lowry
  • Louise Fitzhugh
  • Madeleine L’Engle
  • Gordon Korman
  • Paula Danziger
  • Jean Webster

And then we have a handful of mass market paperbacks from my high school years, when I read everything by Richard Bach and Catherine Marshall.

But my favorite book on the shelf is the most re-read book of my entire life: The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin. I finally bought a hardcover, because my paperback literally fell apart.

This bookcase just makes me happy.

What are the most-loved books of your childhood?

Nonfiction Shelfies: Women’s Lives and Self-Improvement and Civil War and the Titanic

Today’s home library tour brings us to the reading room… which houses the lovely barrister bookcase.

I super-duper despise dusting, and besides looking all serious and historical and quaint, this puppy keeps the books from getting dusty.

The only thing I don’t adore is that each shelf is a different height, which leads to some very un-librarian-like blending of genres based solely on the size of the books. I get a little twitchy if I think about it too long. (There’s fiction on these shelves, people! Interspersed with nonfiction! Chaos reigns!!)

Despite the weirdness of the blend, there are four distinct collections on this bookcase. Let’s have a look.

Women’s Lives

I seriously adore a good autobiography or memoir by a woman who’s done remarkable things. And biographies of these women — they’re right up there, too. And sometimes I favor a perfectly told tale of everyday life. Here’s where the books about suffragists and spies and princesses are shelved.

Self-Improvement

We already know I can’t resist a solid self-improvement book. And here we have so many of my favorites…

Civil War

When I was in college and library school, my pleasure reading consisted of epic biographies of Civil War generals and lengthy, in-depth books about a single day of a single battle. I was truly a barrel of laughs. (My mom wanted to buy me clothes for Christmas, but I was committed to keeping that Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain biography at the top of my wish list. Best mom ever? I’m quite sure: Yes.) Since that phase of my reading life preceded the blog years, there’s little evidence of it here. But it’s part of me.

The Titanic

This one goes all the way back to high school, when I first read A Night to Remember by Walter Lord. And then I was down that rabbit hole for years. During my Titanic reading phase, I lived in a 1903 house, and it delighted my mind (and haunted my nighttime thoughts) that people living in my house would’ve read about the event in the newspaper. In my current 1871 house, same thing. (Life goal: always live in a place that was built before the sinking of the Titanic)

 

Next week: we head into my reading past… Children’s books are up next.

So readers… What were the topics of reading phases you remember fondly?

Nonfiction Shelfies: Aviation, Presidents, Adventure

The home library tour rages on!

Last week we toured my fiction shelves.

Today’s bookshelf tour brings us to the right side of the Glamour Wall…


…which houses Nonfiction!

Actually, it houses a few specific categories of nonfiction, because my nonfiction collection is by far the largest component of my home library — and that means it’s spread throughout the house.  [small shiver of joy]

The living room holds some of my perennial favorite categories of nonfiction: aviation, presidential history, and true adventure.

 

On the top shelf: Aviation (because it seemed suitable to place it nearest the sky)

 

Aviation Favorites

The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe

Carrying the Fire by Michael Collins

Rocket Men by Robert Kurson

The only thing missing is my pilot logbook (that’s in next week’s installment).

 

Then we segue into Presidential History. (Here I fudge a little and include general political history, too.) This area is heavy on biography and autobiography.

 

Presidential History Favorites

No Ordinary Time by Doris Kearns Goodwin

The Death of a President by William Manchester

All the President’s Men by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward

 

 

And that brings us to True Adventure. I actually placed these books in the living room simply because I want them near to me. I just like looking at them and knowing such books exist in the world. And while I don’t think I ever conceptualized this section as True Adventure in so many words, the term more or less fits.

 

True Adventure Favorites

Young Men and Fire by Norman Maclean

Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand

 

All of the favorites I’ve listed are books I’d be completely delighted to re-read. (Some of them I’ve already re-read more than twice.) In this world, which never spares enough reading time, it’s significant to feel compelled to do the re-read. And this area of the shelves is full of them.

 

My fellow readers… What books do you feel most compelled to re-read?

Fiction Shelfies

So how about we tour my bookshelves? Yes, let’s.

This is Part 1 of a series of posts about all my bookshelves… every last one of them. Here we go…

Today we’re talking fiction, and I’m taking shelfies.

We’re starting with the first bookshelf a person sees upon entering my house, and weirdly enough (given my nonfiction-y ways), that’s fiction.

Here’s the wide view…


…and the fiction is on the left. (We’ll hit the right side next time. Stay tuned.)

So… fiction. Recently I weeded my collection, and I merged the mysteries into the general fiction. Still not too sure how I feel about that, but that’s how it currently sits.

So after the Big Fiction Weeding of 2018, the only books that remain are the ones I truly love (along with a few I haven’t read yet). It’s normal for me to stand in front of this shelf and coo.

Here we’ve got the top two shelves…


And the bottom two shelves…

Since it’s fiction, of course the books are arranged alphabetically by author’s last name. Because: librarian.

So while I love all of these books, I’m gonna highlight some of my most favorite favorites, just because I want to.

 

The thing that always strikes me about fiction is the way it makes my mind and my heart expand. And so often, I learn as much from fiction as I do from the most practical nuts-and-bolts nonfiction book out there. It makes me nearly get verklempt to think about it.

And of course science has proven it now, so we don’t have to feel all touchy-feely when talking about the power of fiction. There’s science to back it up.

So let’s pause and pay tribute to the beautiful fiction shelves this week.

(There. Didn’t that feel good?)

 

Next week, we’ll be looking at some of the nonfiction that fills the Unruly home… because reader cannot live by fiction alone.

 

In the meantime, please tell us…

When you look at your fiction shelves, which books make you happiest to see there?

Book Club Update: Summertime and the living is gory

It’s book club in the summertime, and in the past sometimes that’s meant short stories or children’s books or novellas. This year it means nonfiction about unpleasant topics. Plus a small dose of time travel.

 

Kidnapped: The Tragic Life of J. Paul Getty III by Charles Fox

Discussibility Score: 3

Because: While none of us liked this book, and all of us were frustrated by its style and structure and the intrusion of the author all over the place, we had a reasonably spirited discussion of how much it irritated us.

 

The House on the Strand by Daphne du Maurier

Discussibility Score: 4

Because: Yowser, the discussion! The key point: Was this book a time travel story or a cautionary tale about the psychedelic drug scene of the 1960s? This part of the conversation was extremely lively and thought-provoking. While we adored Rebecca, this book didn’t do it for us. (I flat-out despised it.) But the discussion made the reading displeasure worthwhile.

This weekend we meet to discuss The Indifferent Stars Above: The Harrowing Saga of a Donner Party Bride by Daniel James Brown. And man, do I have thoughts about this one… Stay tuned.

 

In the meantime, for more book club goodness, check out the Unruly Book Club Central for a list of our most discussible books ever.

 

And please tell me… What books have you read lately that you’re aching to discuss with someone?

The Woman’s Hour: I vote yes

The Woman’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote by Elaine F. Weiss

3 words: stirring, detailed, political

Anyone else look at the pictures in nonfiction books before starting to read? (I always, always do.)

I knew I’d love this book when I got completely verklempt looking at the photos while standing in line at the Apple Store. The heroism and the teamwork and the long, long wait for success… it got to me. And this was before I’d read a word of the book. And then the feeling got stronger.

Looking at the final battle in the fight to win the vote for women, it’s astonishing to consider how long these women had been doing this work. I mean, they were already in the second generation!

The opening to this book is downright riveting: women from across the country are boarding trains to converge on Nashville, and they know they’re heading into a serious political battle. It made me goose-bumpy.

When we were in Nashville last year, we saw some of the important suffrage sites: the state capitol and the hotel where the key players stayed and lobbied. It’s pretty amazing to be in the room where it happened.

 

This is one of the rooms!

 

And we visited the recent statue to honor the strong women who helped give half of us Americans the right to vote. (I dearly love to vote.)

 

 

What surprised me about the story: learning just how difficult it was for women to win the right to vote, and learning how racism was a key factor in granting women the right to vote. There was a contingent that opposed enfranchising women because it would meant women of all races could vote. It’s appalling. And it makes it all the more significant that women were granted suffrage, because it was a win in more than one way.

If you enjoy reading about political movements and learning the behind-the-scenes maneuvers, this book is for you. And especially if you like books where the good gals win… pick this one up.

 

Give this book a whirl if you like…women’s history, the complexity of social movements, strong women, history writing that puts you in the moment, heroic women

 

What book got you all stirred up about politics?

Essays on the reading life

The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby

3 words: literary, conversational, amiable

 

I didn’t think I was in the mood for bookish essays, but the good Citizen Reader announced an Essay Project, beginning with Nick Hornby, and I can’t resist a reading-related Project.

Then I got a few pages in and started praising Hornby and Citizen for the delightful reading experience. Turns out I was in the mood for bookish essays (at least Hornby-style bookish essays) after all.

It’s weird: I wasn’t particularly interested in the books Hornby writes about, but his comments on the reading life were quite perfect.

I kept marking lines that made me smile, and before I returned the book to the library, I captured my three favorites. Here they are:

  • “A couple of months ago, I became depressed by the realization that I’d forgotten pretty much everything I’ve ever read. I have, however, bounced back: I am now cheered by the realization that if I’ve forgotten everything I’ve ever read then I can read some of my favorite books again as if for the first time.” (p. 43)

 

  • “Books are, let’s face it, better than everything else.” (p. 58)

 

  • “Being a reader is sort of like being president, except reading involves involves fewer state dinners, usually. You have this agenda you want to get through, but you get distracted by life events, e.g., books arriving in the mail/World War III, and you are temporarily deflected from your chosen path.” (p. 63)

(that last one!!!!)

 

My fellow readers, he’s one of us. (Except he also writes the kinds of novels that lots of people love, but never mind that)  He’s our readerly kin.

Thanks, Citizen, for the reading suggestion. This stuff’s worth quoting.

 

Give this book a whirl if you like… literary essays, a self-deprecating tone, reading about books and the reading life, a touch of humor

 

Anyone else a fan of Hornby?