Sunday Lowdown #109


Several years ago, I was following a blogger named Roshni @ Napoleon Split. Her reviews were fun, interesting, different. She has since stopped blogging about books, but I’ve always been impressed with her ambition. Napoleon Split was started as part of a class project when she was, I believe, a sophomore in high school. At one point, she even did a class presentation on Grab the Lapels, which has always tickled me. Since then, Roshni has gone away to college, done an internship, traveled around, written for other publications, and earned a job with Google. She makes STEM look good, folks. Did we lose contact when Roshni stopped blogging about books? No! In fact, we’ve been handwriting letters for years. Maybe she’s an old soul?

Though we’ve written, Roshni and I never did a video chat for no discernible reason. That is, until last Sunday. We decided to buddy read The Street by Ann Petry and then talk about it. When our cameras came on, Roshni’s mouth was hanging open, so I knew either she was very surprised that I was really-real and liked me immediately, or she thought I looked like a dumpster monster. Fingers crossed on the former.

It was a great conversation, and she surprised me when she asked if we could start another buddy read — immediately! That day! So funny. It had to wait a week or so, but we are starting another buddy read, this time with The Coldest Winter Ever by Sister Souljah. I’ve been trying to read this book for years, but the library copies always have holds or are checked out, despite it being published originally in 1999.


We generated a lot of conversation on two sides of the globe when I posted my review of The Weekend by Charlotte Wood. I didn’t enjoy the novel for many reasons, but it was interesting to think more about how we treat the elderly, and what we even mean when we say “elderly.”

Thanks to everyone for reading and chiming in on the Mary Saracino feature on Thursday. Saracino thanks everyone for their interest in her work. There were great comments about the erasure and/or objectification of women in literature.


You remember earlier in the pandemic when we did a loose buddy read with the book Paradise Cove — the one with the “beefy sea god”? Well, author Jenny Holiday graciously agreed to do a Meet the Writer feature to celebrate her third book in the Matchmaker Bay books! Interview on Tuesday.

A new direction I’m heading in with my reading is toward authors with disabilities. One book I read recently was the poetry collection called A Life Interrupted: Living with Brain Injury by Louise Mathewson, another gem from Pearlsong Press. Review on Thursday.


I’m really trying to read the books I own this year, so I’m going to start keeping track of where I am in this section of the Sunday Lowdown. After that, I’m committing to using the library instead of buying books. There is a deep socialist element of my personality in some regards, including things like healthcare about public libraries. Should I write a post to detail more why I’m not buying books for the most part anymore?

Owned Books on TBR at Beginning of Year: 242 
Owned Books Read This Year: 25

This week, only one book was added at the very last moment, a recommendation made during another Zora Neale Hurston Gathering & Gabbing book club. Anyone can register to Zoom in.


  1. What a great story of your Readalong and video get together after all these years. I too have watched some who’ve left their blogs behind and moved on as the world and life demands their attention, it’s one if the little talked about gifts of blogging, those occasional relationships that develop and endure between particular souls. 🤗


    • It’s the folks who disappear without a trace who worry me. I’m glad Roshni and I have stayed friends. I hope to meet her some day — we almost did, as she was thinking of attending the University of Notre Dame, which is in the city where I live, so she would have stayed with us. Perhaps, after COVID, she and I can meet up!


    • Another book you might like, Shell, is the I added at the bottom of this post. Like I said, it was recommended during the Zora Neale Hurston book club. I can also see you liking that book club! I added the link, if you’re interested.


  2. Gotta love a kid (an adult now I guess) who handwrites letters. I did for years but it’s nearly all email now. I’m old enough I don’t need to get used to phones, chat sessions, Zoom. I like time to consider my responses. But I will sit down with friends and a glass or two of wine. My responses are quicker and silences more acceptable.
    I will buy new books if I’m in a bookshop (can’t help myself), but for obvious reasons I haven’t been for a year except for a couple of days before Christmas.


    • I used to feel a big responsibility to keep the local independent book shop open. If I bought a book anywhere else, I was harming the little business. But I’m a big fan of this used book store in South Bend that inside this guy’s house, especially because I never know what I’ll find there, and none of it is popular fiction. I’ve been in book stores that keep the Pattersons and Harlequins, and the place gets disorganized pretty quickly. I think I will write the post about why I don’t shop in book stores anymore. You’re the third person to bring it up. I started some research this afternoon.

      I would write you a letter.


      • That’s lovely of you to say so, but don’t write me a letter. The mails are stuffed, here as elsewhere in the world. It took me till February to get all my (few) Christmas cards and four months for a book Liz Dexter sent me to cross from England to Australia.


  3. Hi Melanie! My mouth was open because of the former. And I am SO thankful I met you and that we’ve stayed friends. Your letters always make my day and it was the biggest treat to get to meet on facetime after so long (why did we wait so long?) and discuss The Street! And also I can’t wait to meet in person after covid! See you soon! And we talked a little bit about independent bookstores vs. public library, so I’m excited to see your post about it 🙂


    • I’m so glad it wasn’t the second one 😀

      I’m not sure why we waited so long to do a video meeting. When you were in high school I wouldn’t have done it without your mom or dad present (just because you would be a minor and I always respect that), and when you were in college you were very busy and had many roommates! It’s so fun to think back when I was writing to you when you were in college because I always had to make sure I had the right address.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I think I know a bit of why you’re choosing the library over bookstores but I still think a post detailing your reasons would be an interesting read!


  5. How lovely to do a video chat after all these years! I’ve had a BookCrossing friend, Cari, for about 15 years and she’s also now a running blog friend and we finally met two years ago, which was very cool.


  6. I love that you’ve stayed in touch with the blogger via letters! That’s so awesome, the book world is such an amazing place, and readers seem to have a special connection, don’t we? I’m also extremely impressed that her blog was borne out of a high school project!!!


  7. I’d love to hear more about why you’re moving away from buying books and your thoughts on public libraries, if you’re considering doing a whole post. My book-acquiring habits are definitely formed based on availability where I live and how I like to use books so I suspect our ideals are going to differ, but it’s a topic I always enjoy seeing how others approach. And great work having read 25 books you already own so far this year! I wish I could say the same- my unread stack is a bit larger and I need to make some serious progress soon.
    On another note, your story about staying in touch with a book blogger so far beyond her days of book blogging was so heartwarming. 🙂 I’ve always felt the book community is a very genuinely friendly place, and seeing people stay in touch even when they’re not producing content really affirms it. I’m so glad the two of you had a nice chat and are planning another buddy read! That’s some great positive energy to put into the world.


    • Your location and library experiences have made me think more about how libraries serve communities out “in the middle of nowhere.” Talking with Jackie has made me realize that a larger system may not be tons better. She’s in Madison, but due to a consortium of libraries, books, even older ones, may not be available for ages there, too. My post will definitely be from my perspective/experience, but I’m hoping that others will share their experiences with me and give me a better sense of what’s out there, too.

      Roshni is so sweet. I wish folks would stay in touch or say they’re not going to blog anymore and share a non-blog email address. Jackie’s not blogging much due to the new baby, but we text every day.

      Liked by 1 person

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