Sunday Lowdown #49

News at Grab the Lapels:

Whether to read library books or books I own is an ongoing saga at my house. Here’s what happened:

Just this past week, I signed up for Daily Lit. This site helps you get in bits of classics each day by emailing you an excerpt of a novel. I got this idea from Briana at Pages Unbound, and I’m already several chapters into The Brothers Karamazov.

I also own a copy of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s novel, which I keep in my huge TBR tote in my closet, and I wanted to pull the chonky book out so I could review passages before bed that I had that day read on email. Although the rule had been I could only buy books as long as the fit in the tote and the lid could close, there was a pile of books (lid off) spilling all over the place because I’ve been buying Friends of the Library sale books because my home library weeds aggressively!

Panic ensued.

I loaded up almost all the library books in my possession (40+) and returned them in the drop slot that morning. Not only did I feel better, but Kitty had more room to chill on the table by the window.

Kitty sits on one book and skritches her face on others. Happy Kitty!

So, I’m back to reading my oldest and newest books to clear away the mess I’ve made in a few short months (short, like two). If I “need” a library book and it’s gone, I’ll inter-library loan it.

This Week’s Blog Posts:

Audiobooks don’t seem as popular on book blogs as I wish they were — I know Bill @ Australian Legend and Nicole @ Read. Eat. Sleep. Repeat. are fans — but I still have mini reviews of audio works planned for 2020. I started by pairing Shirley Jackson’s memoirs about her family life, excerpts of which originally appeared in women’s magazines and likely affected what Jackson was willing to include. My reviews are HERE.

If you didn’t read along with Jackie @ Death by Tsundoku and I last year as we consumed 16 Mercedes Lackey (and later Larry Dixon) Valdemar novels, you haven’t missed your chance. This year, we’re going back in Valdemar chronology, so there are places you could jump in with no confusion, including a stand-alone novel that would be a great taste of the adventure. The reading schedule and jump-in recommendations can be found HERE.

Next Week’s Blog Posts:

Thanks to Oscar buzz, the film Can You Ever Forgive Me? starring Melissa McCarthy entered the public conscious. However, the movie about Lee Israel forging letters by famous people was first a memoir. I’ll post my review of it on Tuesday.

Along with Emily @ Literary Elephant, I’m reading My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier. It’s the first time for both of us, though I’ve seen the movie starring Sam Claflin and Rachel Weisz. Fortunately, the 2017 film hasn’t ruined the book, as no film truly captures a du Maurier. Check back Thursday for my review.

Book I’m Reading Aloud to My Spouse:

Uncle Joss, the monster landlord of of an inn no one patronizes, continues to terrorize and threaten in Daphne du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn. Funny that I’m reading two du Maurier’s right now, but I can’t get enough of her complex characters and vivid settings.

I’ve read Jamaica Inn before, so it’s interesting to hear the spouse’s thoughts about the characters. He’s drawn to my attention two interesting points: that there is more mystery to the novel than I had perceived, especially because readers don’t know how complicit Aunt Patience is in her husband’s bad dealings, and heroine Mary Yellen continues to make assumptions about events, but lacks evidences.

Secondly, the only other du Maurier the spouse has read (or had read to him, by me) was Rebecca. He noticed both novels are about a fish out of water, but that the water is very different.

Books Added to the TBR Pile:

I must have mentioned Debra Di Blasi’s books 100 times on this blog, but few are reviewed here because I read them pre-2013 when Grab the Lapels was created. Likely, I’m going to go back and read many of them soon. Exciting news: Di Blasi will be coming out with a memoir in 2020, and to start organizing for marketing, she asked if I knew any good blogs. Do I?! So, you may hear from her via whatever contact method you list on your site.


  1. I routinely review books I’ve listened to rather than read and it doesn’t seem to make any difference to my (small) readership. If I can, and especially if it’s an ‘important’ book I’ll try and find a hard copy for quotes and to refresh my memory. Audiobooks keep me at least a little bit up to date with contemporary fiction from outside Australia, though more often with genre fiction, which I rarely bother to review.

    Is it your policy to review every book you read? Mine is to review one or two books a week and otherwise my reading and listening life is my own.


  2. I have sort of carried on with the oldest/newest thing, simply because my Christmas books just will not fit on my TBR shelf! Hopefully it will all shuffle up and fit on soon and then I’m going to go back to reading the oldest first as I have so many in the middle I just have not reached! I am looking forward to reading Rebecca and Jamaica Inn in March for Heavenali’s reading week.


    • Yeah, I felt relieved pulling out all the books I own that I plan to read for 2020. It’s a big pile (I try to read 6 books per month x 12 months), but it allowed me to close the dang plastic tote WITH the lid on once again!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. 40+ library books!! Wowza that’s a lot!!
    I’ll be interested to hear how your experience with Daily Lit goes. I’ve wondered if that would be worthwhile for me to do. Is the excerpt length set in stone or is that customizable if you find yourself falling behind or wanting to read more?


    • You get an email on the days you pick with Daily Lit. I chose M-F. You can also choose short, medium, and long excerpts. I chose short at first, but found that I was clicking the “send next excerpt” button pretty often, so I adjusted it to medium. I really like it, especially since it’s emailed to me. If I get behind, the emails are still there and I can catch up on them in order later. They’re actually labeled, too. So, right now I’m on installment 22 of 352.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I enjoy your audiobook reviews. I don’t always make a distinction when I review them but I do have a favorite audiobooks of 2019 coming up soon. 🤣 I also am looking forward to hearing what you think about My Cousin Rachel. I haven’t seen the movie but I think I liked it better than Rebecca


    • My audiobook reviews tend to be much shorter simply because I don’t have quotes or anything, and I’m working off memory over a long period of time (I get through about 1 hour of audio per week day, and most audiobooks I check out are about 12 hours, so we’re talking around 2 weeks of spread out listening).

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ahhh! I use audiobooks through my library and use the bookmark feature to go back for quotes I want to include or make note of. I also listen at 2x -2.5x speed which my husband had told me isn’t decipherable but I politely disagree.


  5. I can’t read half of this because the pictures are overlapping the text? It might just be my computer or browser which is out of date but I just thought I’d mention it.

    The Daily Lit does indeed sound interesting! I think that’s a great way to consume classics… in small doses.

    And I read audiobooks! I don’t usually dedicate a whole lot of extra time to reviewing them. I’ll usually say how I liked the narrator or point out whether I would recommend another format if it’s a confusing sort of book. Sometimes I probably don’t mention it. I’ll try to note it from now on though (thanks for the tip).


    • I double checked the post, and it looks fine. I’m wondering if it’s your browser. I always use Google Chrome, but I know some people still like Explorer, which doesn’t play nicely with a lot of websites. Thanks for the heads up, though! I’m always looking for feedback (and giving it) when I see something wonky on WordPress.

      I super duper appreciate when other people review audiobooks and let me know what they thought of the voice narrator. That person, and the quality of the recording, makes a massive difference.


  6. Oh man, I would love to see a photo of the panic-inducing collection of books. I understand why it isn’t here, but still. What a wonderful image! I am with you on having too many library books checked out. I recently returned my largest single stack of 26 books at once — I am shocked that you had 40! Is this from spending so many hours in the library?

    From a selfish perspective, I love the audiobook reviews. Do you write mini reviews for other formats? I wonder if it’s audiobooks or if it’s mini-reviews people don’t gravitate to as much? I know my brain tends to get distracted if there are multiple books reviewed in a single post. For me, it’s about focus. This is why I don’t write reviews for multiple books in a single post.

    Keep sharing all the wonderful thoughts Nick has on du Maurier. Brilliant. I have only read Rebecca, but I hope to read more of her work soon. Isn’t reading aloud such a different experience than reading to yourself?!


    • It was over 40 books, and I just got an email that the other 8 or so that I kept are now due. I basically went and checked out everything I wanted to read in 2020 so they can’t weed it! It didn’t work. I just ended up with too many books in general.

      This time around the audiobook review got a lot more love. I think the issue is that I was posting on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. The audiobook reviews typically landed on Friday, and no one was reading then (I think I overwhelmed readers with too many posts). I don’t typically review multiple books at a time, but Shirley Jackson’s just go together — in fact, the memoirs follow one after the other pretty much right away in time.

      Thanks for your kind works about Nick. He’s so lovely 🙂 Reading aloud is weird because I feel a little out of body when I’m doing it solely to focus on the words and get those right, as opposed to thinking about what I just read. This is why re-reading a book is easier; I already know what I think about the novel. I have to say, after reading Rebecca, My Cousin Rachel, and Jamaica Inn, the book that affected my emotions the most, that lost me the most in the story and made me put down the book because I was getting upset thinking about what was happening….that book was My Cousin Rachel.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hahaha. That’s a really brilliant strategy! I mean, I definitely will occasionally check out books I know I won’t be reading in the near-term to show that the books are still circulating. Is that gaming the system? Maybe, but it keeps my books alive. 🙂

        I find that posting on Friday typically means fewer people interacting with my post. I get a similar number of views, but I think people are too busy to comment and start a conversation. I’m glad to hear that the audiobook post got more love this time!

        Good to know about du Maurier’s work. I have both those books on my TBR. But I feel like they are good for book clubs and discussions. I’d love to at least buddy read these books. That would be lovely.


  7. I’m not at all suprised that your husband is picking up on totally different things that a straight reader would-I think listening to a book read aloud (and audio books) changes the focus drastically-the read-alouder emphasizes different things than the traditionally reader would, so other details will naturally come to the fore. Yay for Daphne du Maurier! I’ve got my hold on the Shirley Jackson book, I can’t wait to read it!


  8. Ah, your cat is so cute!!
    I never want to return library books unread, so having 40 checked out sounds stressful! If I get to 6 or so I start to worry, lol.
    Looking forward to seeing how your review for My Cousin Rachel turns out! It’ll be brilliant, I’m sure! 🙂


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