Sunday Lowdown #87


  • There’s a large, ongoing road construction project near my house, and the new road redesign is less than safe. I’ve been feeling terrified as I almost crash my car once per week. I feel so helpless and angry. I once read that anger is an opportunity to make change, so for the first time I called the city of South Bend and was given the direct cell number to the bridge engineer. I talked to that guy about how dangerous his project is. While I didn’t get anything solved (he’s the head of the project but didn’t design the bridge), I did feel better that I did something.
  • I’ve been adding so many new books lately, especially thanks to buddy reads, that I looked at my Goodreads TBR and thought, “ugh.” So, I went through and deleted any book I added to the list before 2017, unless I own it, no wavering. I dropped about 100 books.
  • I’ve been scouring the web for recipes and cooking more and more new dishes. While I’m cooking, I listen to Parliament’s 1976 album The Clones of Dr. Funkenstein. Nick says he likes coming home to a funky kitchen.


An experimental memoir about a life of poverty and exploration on a farm in Missouri made for a challenging, but wonderful read. Check out my review of Debra Di Blasi’s new book, Selling the Farm.

A poetry collection that was a bit too simplistic for me nevertheless attracted the attention of many of my readers. Learn more by reading my review of Mary Lambert’s book Shame is An Ocean I Swim Across.


A book that has a bit of everything — religion, witch magic, guilt, river people, friendship, and commentary on motherhood — Chocolat by Joanne Harris is a complex read set in rural France. If you’ve seen the movie, note that the layers that complicate the novel have been removed from the film script. review Tuesday.

A new novel about writing life and relationships with men, Writers and Lovers by Lily King is all in the title. While one reader in my book club said he didn’t care to get into a book “about a bunch of MFA-types,” I disagree that King is another writer writing about writing. Check out my review Thursday.


Thanks to Sue @ Whispering Gums for her recommendation! As you can see, I didn’t add as many books this week. I do plan to continue weeding library books I added to my Goodreads TBR if they are more than three years old. By the time I get to them, the library will have weeded them from their collection!


  1. Thanks for the link Melanie. I’m chuffed that my review has encouraged you to add the book to your pile! I’m impressed too that you did such a good job on cleaning up your TBR list at GoodReads. I don’t keep a TBR list there or anywhere, actually, because I know I won’t get to them. I have so many books to read right in my house, and I am regularly given books (though with my Mum dying this year that’s one lovely source or gift books gone. You know, I hadn’t thought of that until this moment. Sad.)

    Anyhow, I also haven’t read Chocolat though have seen the film a few times. You have intrigued me, and, the King book sounds interesting too. Unlike your bookclub person, I’m probably not turned off by a book about MFA-types.


    • As much as I enjoy having book blogger friends from around the globe, in a lot of cases I can’t get the books they’re reading because the title isn’t published in the U.S. I’m glad there’s one we both can read!

      I’m very sorry about your mom. It’s lovely that she was a reader, too. I must say I’m surprised you don’t have a TBR because you’re reading books you own. I can smell the jealousy coming from other bookish people!

      Chocolat is a lovey book — see if my review appeals to you on Tuesday. And book club guy? He’s insufferable. He mentions as often as he can that he has a PhD. The first time he came to book club he tried to convince the group to read his self-published novel. Erm, it’s a library book club? We’re not exactly buying books, let alone how awkward it is to have someone pop in for a sales pitch.


      • Yes, I understand. Fortunately Jaswal is Singaporean and appears to be published internationally. A big plus.

        I have TBR, it’s just that I don’t active.y look to add to it… as well as books I own I have a backlog of review copies. I do buy books occasionally, but that’s mostly from writers festivals and author talks. The thing is, that I just don’t get much time to read. Most days I’m lucky to read my book for an hour. You don’t get through a lot that way!

        That’s a shame about that fellow in your book club. With a
        library based one you don’t get to pick and choose your members like our personally organised ones.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. When you finally convince me to meet you for dinner over Zoom, I think I want the sweet potato black bean quesadillas. I wonder what Milly will cook you – she experiments in the kitchen all the time. My job will be to provide a couple of Western Australian pinot grigios, though if Nick prefers, WA has some excellent craft beer pale ales.
    Writers writing about writers writing will give us something to talk about (when we’ve stopped complaining about traffic and roadworks – I’m not sure our freeways ever have all their lanes open at once, and our federal politicians are apparently planning to spend more billions on “temporary” lane closures to stimulate the economy)


    • Given our time differences, I think one of us would be eating breakfast while the other had dinner. I’m not sure what Aussies have for breakfast, but I doubt it’s PopTarts. Honestly, I think the quesadillas would make an excellent breakfast, too. They had a lot of staying power. What is it you don’t like about video calls?


        • Good gravy, I hate talking on the phone. Because of my hearing, the lack of facial cues on the phone utterly freak me out. I’ve gotten better at it the longer I work at the library, which required a lot of phone use. You get skills to direct a conversation.

          I do forget that not all writers are talkers. They take a long time to think about what they want to say, and thus the conversation feels a little slow.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows is excellent, I think I had it from NetGalley and really enjoyed it. I just went a bit over-the-top in Amazon’s politics and history Kindle sale – oopsie.


  4. That sweet potato dish looks delicious. Cornbread is one of the things on my list of foods that I really want to try if I ever make it to the US! Friends of mine went to watch baseball on a trip there last year, and were delighted to find that they were about to buy chili and cornbread instead of crisps and beer to eat during the game. They could not stop talking about how good it was!


  5. I periodically purge my TBR list on Goodreads too. If it’s been on my list for 4+ years and I don’t still really want to read it or already own it, it goes. Those TBR lists can get intimidating so sometimes it’s nice to remind it that it doesn’t ALWAYS control you. :3


    • When I add a book to Goodreads TBR, I always include the “shelf” for which library it’s located at. That helps me think about 1) not paying for the book, and 2) if the library has had it for a while, I should check their site again and see if it’s been weeded.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I am EXTREMELY impressed by you calling the city re: the construction project. And the fact that they actually connected you to someone on the project is also very impressive! I understand that anxiety, there’s a really scary intersection with a ton of overpasses and weird colliding highways here in Calgary that I didn’t understand for the longest time and I’d get all freaked out having to go over it, or just avoiding it completely. I did it enough that I get it now, but I’m ashamed to say it took me a long time to get to that stage…


  7. I hope your phone call re: the construction makes a difference and good for you for taking action! You never know, maybe others have also and together your voices can add up!


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