Dispatches from the Distancing – catch up to day 339

I was about to write this post and I realized that last week was days 233-239 and, if it will be a year in March, something was wrong. Apparently, in October, I totally messed up my counting and got off by, oh, a hundred or so days! Yikes, so today is really, truly day 339 of the quarantine!

The big news in our house is that yesterday was my daughter’s 12th birthday! Because of the pandemic, there was no party (although a couple friends left presents on our doorsteps), but she seemed okay with that. Next year, I’m sure that birthday parties will be all-out events! The only thing she said she wanted for her birthday was snow and, being the best mother in the world, I made sure that happened (okay, I might not have had any control over it, but I’m taking credit!). The kids had fun playing outside yesterday, but things are warming up today so I’m expecting the white stuff to be gone tomorrow, which is how I like it! I loved snow until I moved to Boston and discovered that snow that doesn’t melt within a few days just becomes ugly gray sludge!

And onto this week’s books! As usual, I am linking up with Kathryn at Book Date and her It’s Monday….What Are You Reading? blog hop.

This week, I finished:

The Paragon Hotel by Lyndsay Faye
(2.75 stars; Goodreads review)

I had never heard of this book before it was suggested in one of my book clubs, but it sounded right up my alley. Apparently, it wasn’t quite my alley after all. While I had high hopes, those hopes ended up falling flat.

There are two stories going in this book–one of Alice’s life in New York and one of her life in Portland. Both are fairly interesting, but I don’t understand why both are in this book. The New York story adds very little to understanding Alice and the Portland story is self-contained. What I found even more annoying is that the switching between the two stories did nothing buy interrupt any flow I had going with this book.

My bigger problem, and I realize this probably falls under the personal preference umbrella, is that this book was just exhausting–and it was a very specific form of exhaustion. It took me a while to put a finger on it, but it was if someone like me (an introvert) was stuck in a conversation for hours with someone who is just always on. If you know, you know. Honestly, if this hadn’t been a book club book, I probably would have DNF’d it.

So, this one definitely wasn’t a hit with me. However, I can’t say I would turn people away from this book–my issues may not be shared with others–but I probably wouldn’t recommend it.

The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking
(3 stars, No Goodreads Review)

Okay, I’ve seen this book on a lot of blogs lately and I’m sure what I’m about to say will ruffle some feathers (for more than one reason), but here it goes. What a crock!

I don’t dispute that the Danes (and other Scandinavians) are happy. I get that being cozy is comforting. I realize that I need to rethink some of the lighting choices in my house. That is all true. But, here’s the thing, the Scandinavians are not happy because of their socks or blankets or candles or lighting. They are happy because they live in a welfare state. Wiking realizes this as he does kind of, sort of refer to it at a few points. This book is just a marketing attempt to sell Americans on something they won’t ever achieve because, as we know, the American dream is told hold onto to our own stuff, complain about paying taxes, pay even more for things that would be provided to us if we paid more taxes, and then just deal with all the added stress and anxiety that Scandinavians don’t have to worry about.

Did I drive everyone away with that rant? Anyway, this book had its good points, but I honestly think that if someone was truly looking for a self-help book that would actually do something, a book on minimalism would be a better choice.

The Fortunate Ones by Ed Tarkington
(4.25 stars, Goodreads Review)

This is the book that I didn’t know I needed to read.

It was the comparisons to The Great Gatsby that convinced me to give it a try, although rich boys at a private school didn’t really seem like my jam.

This isn’t a Gatsby retelling but clearly Fitzgerald’s work was an inspiration. Instead of flappers and bootleggers, we are in world of late 20th/early 21st century affluent Southern Republicans. While the political side doesn’t come until later in the book, the seeds can be seen in the early pages. This isn’t a book with very many, if any, truly likable characters, so you’ll have to be okay with extremely flawed individuals.

I was surprised at how quickly and completely I was sucked into this story. To be fair, I am not unfamiliar with this world as I’ve known people such of these in my life, but that only made the book more believable. This is also a story that just makes sense, and it helps to make sense of our current reality.

My only complaint with this book is that I felt the last third or so was inconsistently paced. At points it felt like we were going down roads that didn’t need to be traveled while others felt rushed. It wasn’t enough to leave me with a negative view of the book once I finished, but it was something that I noticed.

This is definitely a book that I would recommend to someone who wanted something based in reality that may add clarity to where we are today.

What I started this week:

A Fountain Filled with Blood (A Rev. Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne Mystery #2) by Julia Spencer-Fleming
This is the second installment in the crime fighting Episcopal priest mysteries and I’m quite liking it. For those that haven’t read it, I would say it would be in the realm of Louise Penny’s books (that being based on my reading exactly one Louise Penny book). Also, the titles are taken from hymns and make the books sounds heavier than they actually are. They aren’t light, but there is a far amount of levity and the relationships in the book can be quite charming.

What I don’t like is that my library only has the first book in eBook form and I have to get hardcovers from here on out. I don’t know why, but this is the sort of book I like to read on my kindle. I’m trying to make a dent into my own print book TBR and that’s hard when I keep having to get library print books! Also, it’s just depressing to go to the library right now–we can go in to pick up holds, but there is no browsing and all the books are blocked off from the public. It is much less of an emotional task to just download the book from Libby!

I’m still reading:

We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry
The Witches of New York by Ami McKay
Monument by Natasha Trethewey
Middlemarch by George Eliot

26 thoughts on “Dispatches from the Distancing – catch up to day 339

  1. Hmm we are kind of somewhere in the middle of the USA and Scandinavia I’d say in terms of social welfare etc. I think they have a good system actually. Go them. That’s a lot of days of pandemic. We are in a minor lock down for a couple of days, you should hear people moan. I just think of all the bloggers in other countries I know of, and think they just don’t know how lucky they are. Hope your reading is good this week. Suited to an introvert!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, our lockdown has been very long. Of course, it didn’t NEED to be that long, but he who must not be named decided not to lead, which lead to deadly consequences. And, not everyone is observing lockdown as we are. One of my brothers “doesn’t believe” in COVID. We haven’t seen him in a year, but I’ll have to see him soon (to deliver Girl Scout cookies), so I will need to figure out how to do that safely. I’m sure some feathers will be ruffled.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Happy birthday to your daughter! And yay for snow! Although I agree- I love it when it falls all pristine and white, but after it turns gray and sludgy it gets old. 🙂

    I think I started the Little Book of Hygge a few years ago but never finished. Your rant made me laugh haha I think I agree!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You didn’t miss much with the Little Book of Hygge. Unless the country decides to change course, the best you can do is invest in some warm socks and buy some soft-light lightbulbs!


  3. It seems like its been forever doesn’t it? This is Mardi Gras week and here in New Orleans last year we were joking that all the Chinese junk they were throwing into the street was going to infect us. Well, it probably didn’t but they said the Mardi Gras crowds were why we were hit early and hard.


  4. I have been astounded by how long we have been locked down. I haven’t counted the actual days, but I know that we were locked down here in my residence on March 11, 2020…and I haven’t left this community since…except for one brief visit to my doctor’s office for blood work in October! And I had to be brought right back afterwards and questioned about my contacts, mask wearing people, and social distancing.

    I laughed a little about your thoughts on the Hygge book.

    Happy birthday to your daughter, and thanks for visiting my blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Happy Birthday to your daughter! I’m so happy she got her birthday wish of snow!

    I’m still amazed at how long this pandemic is going on. I’m hoping vaccines will help, but even with vaccines, they say it’s going to continue for awhile.

    I hope you have a great week!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I have no clue when this will end. I’m not sure when we’ll get our vaccines, but I’m hoping for late spring or early summer. In the meantime, we will stay hunkered down!

      My daughter loved the snow. I was glad there was something to make her birthday special!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Happy Birthday to your daughter… and what a mom to make it snow! Yay!

    I loved The Fortunate Ones! It actually reminded me more of something Pat Conroy would write than The Great Gatsby. Have a feeling it will end up being a 2021 favorite.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Yay for snow that comes for a day and then melts. I live in northern Minnesota. Our snow just stays and stays… Nice variety of books. The whole hygge thing just baffles me. Of course, except for the pandemic, I like my lifestyle the way it is. Come see my week here. Happy reading!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I honestly think the allure of hygge is the idea of finding some happiness. While what it suggests can bring some momentary joy, it isn’t really a lifestyle. Oh well, I guess it sells books so whatever!

      I’m an introvert so I’m not as stir crazy as some are during the pandemic, but I am ready to get back to normal!


  8. Happy birthday to your daughter! Good mom for getting your daughter the one thing she wanted for her birthday, snow.

    I think there is something to what you say about Scandinavia. I also think a lot of our problem in America is that we are always trying to resist things that can’t be changed. It uses up our energy!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. If you live in the Boston area, have you checked out the “Partner Libraries” option in the OverDrive app? You can search other library networks’ OverDrive collections and borrow from them with your own library card! A Fountain Filled with Blood is available as an e-book from the Boston Public LIbrary OD collection, and any state resident can apply for a BPL e-card. (Librarian here! haha) I agree with you on the Hygge book; I read it early in the pandemic, and thought the same as you. I just brought The Fortunate Ones home from the library last week, but forgot that I had borrowed it, so thanks for reminding me. I need to get to it soon before it’s overdue!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Just to clarify, you don’t need a BPL card to borrow from the BPL OverDrive collection, but if you have one, you can use it in addition to your regular card (and increase your number of holds!)

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I actually don’t live in Boston–I lived there for 3 years after college, but now I live in Oregon (where I grew up). Boston had a fantastic library system…one of my favorite things about the city!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on these books. I would give The Fortunate Ones a try. The priest mysteries also sound good. Like you, I am not into the library right now. We have to schedule appointments if we want to come in to use the resources, or schedule a pick up. I like to spontaneously drop by and browse.

    Thanks for visiting my blog today. Hope you enjoy your books.


  11. Happy Birthday to your daughter! That was so nice of you to make sure she had a white birthday. 😉 We do a friends birthday party every other year and this was supposed to be that year. It will save me money (yay!), but I feel bad for my daughter. We’ll do what we can to make it special for her. Her birthday is coming up next month. I am still sorry that The Paragon Hotel didn’t work for you. I have it on my TBR pile to read. At least The Fortunate Ones was better for you. I hope you have a great week, Melinda!


  12. I live in SD and we can get snow as early as October. Snow that falls in Nov-Dec, we can usually expect to stick around until the end of January. UGH!

    All of your books are new to me and look very interesting. Happy birthday to your daughter. Have a great week and happy reading!


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About Melinda