Sunday Lowdown #171


Sunday Lowdown #170 got rather too long, so I saved my trip to the American Writers Museum in Chicago for #171. If you’re curious about what did with the rest of my week, just know that I was miserable due to my stitches getting irritated by the humidity, which led to me trying one whole day at home topless. I felt clever until I realized I couldn’t lean back or lay down on anything because the stitches require Vaseline, and do you know how hard it is to sit up all day?? The next day I went back to a sports bra and the humidity about destroyed my stitches. So awful. The third day I tried to not think of Stefanie @ A Stone in the River and turned on the A/C. I started watching the entire Purge series, horror films which had to seem ridiculous during the halcyon days of the Obama administration when they were released, but in 2022 they were way too on the nose.

Things got better, except not being allowed to exercise or even walk fast enough to increase my heart rate for two weeks means my blood pressure went up, my feet swell a bit, and my anxiety got out of control. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and the sponsor of this post is clearly Xanax. So, let’s just pretend this week did not happen and get ourselves back to the American Writers Museum.

I took a lunch break. While Chicago is the land of inflation, there is now inflation-inflation, and thus you pay $18.74 for a small burger meal.
I took this photo because Sue @ Whispering Gums posted about Australian publishers sending books to folks in the military, which was also part of a movement to recognize Australian lit as something of note.


Because I follow a few Aussie bloggers, I feel inspired to read more Australian writers so we bloggers can make a connection. The Words in My Hands (Australian title: Future Girl) by Asphyxia led to conversations mainly about how we use the word “normal.” It’s not a useless word, but context is everything. Something I didn’t add to my post is just how colorful Asphyxia’s book is. She includes her own drawings, paintings, and collage so the book looks like the main character’s art journal. Check out this page for some examples.


When I learned that Daphne du Maurier, one of my favorite authors, had a book in which an English lady runs off with a French pirate, I knew I had to read it. The question is, will she leave her dense husband and two children to be with a quick-witted, lovely pirate, or will she give up the only time she’s felt alive to return to her family? It’s a rather unexpected plot. Review Wednesday.


Owned Books on TBR at Beginning of Year: 202
Owned Books on TBR Last Week: 181
Owned Books on TBR Today: 181

Almost all of these books were added to my TBR while I was at the American Writers Museum. There was one exhibit in particular at which you could click on authors and listen to and watch them answer questions about being immigrants, children of immigrants, refugees, etc. They were asked about language, family, why they write, what “American” means, etc. If you want to see what the exhibit looks like, click here.


  1. Melanie- The Frenchman’s Creek was a very fun read made even more enjoyable by the vivid descriptions and discussions with you! ♥️♥️~B


    • It was a fun book, and it was always stinky to have to stop reading when I reached the end of a section for book club! Also, I’m going to have to watch Cutthroat Island soon. I love Gina Davis. I’ve seen a few interviews with her lately and how no one in Hollywood will hire her because she’s older. Also, how she’s almost entirely remembered for Beetlejuice and nothing else. That makes me sad.


  2. Oh, I remember reading Fifth Chinese Daughter way back when!

    Anyhow, I’m so sorry you had a terrible week. As an eczema sufferer I understand exactly how humidity can cause pain to skin. It’s bad enough on sensitive skin, but on damaged skin it can be unbearable. I hope you are better now – physically and mentally.

    That museum looks great. I see you also bought the recent Aussie book, New animal, that in fact I mentioned last week because it was a runner up in this year’s Best new novelists award (for 35 and under writers.)

    Of course, I love love love that photo of the books for the army services, of course. Thanks for linking to me. How fascinating about its impact on The great Gatsby.

    And, I enjoyed the discussion on Asphyxia’s book.

    Have a good week, Melanie.


    • I’m slowly getting better, but it can’t come fast enough. It’s such a slow process. Fortunately, the weather dipped and is right around where it’s supposed to be: about 70F. That helps.

      My library has New Animal, so I added it after seeing it in your post. I didn’t link you because you don’t have a review, but perhaps you’ll now be persuaded to read and review it, too!


      • I’m glad you are getting better, though it’s a shame about thew slowly bit.

        That’s perfectly fine of course about not linking my post because as you say it was not a review, but I am really pleased that my post encouraged you to check it out. I’d love to read it but I am really bogged down at the moment so who knows.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. The museum looks amazing! I had no idea about the subtext of Charlotte’s Web!

    Five Guys fries are the best. But yikes that’s a lot for one meal!

    I’m sorry about your discomfort and anxiety. I hope things are getting better?

    Definitely want to read Frenchman’s Creek. My own book for DDM week is not going well… nonfiction about Cornwall… it’s just a slow read, and I’ll pick at it and finish it eventually.

    Hope you have a much better week this week!


    • I didn’t know about Charlotte’s Web either, and now I want to re-read it through that lens. I also want to seek out some nonfiction by White and learn more about his politics. I love his books, especially Trumpet of the Swan.

      Well, today is Tuesday, so it’s early, but I think things are going a bit better. I’m trying to get a few things organized for this summer.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Love the idea of a writers museum. Though perhaps I chose the wrong exhibition to look at – the writers quoted seemed at pains to affirm their Americanness, which is very American of them.
    My only connection to your books this week is that I’ve bought two of them, and given them away (as presents) without reading them – Carson and Asphyxia.
    I wonder now why I didn’t include Langston Hughes in my North America project for this year. I’ll have to look around for Not Without Laughter.


    • It’s specifically the American Writers Museum, so they were looking at what it means to be American (there was the whole exhibit about immigrants and refugees and first-gen). The other big exhibit was a long series of famous writers in the U.S. from before the founding of the country. That’s where I got a lot of the books I added to my TBR, so look forward to a lot of classics! I love that you give away books as presents. I always feel shy about it, like I’m trying to push a part of myself on other people. About three years ago I gave my dad a book about the Great Lakes around Michigan, because he’s really interested in them, and I’m still not sure if he read it.

      I love Langston Hughes’s poetry, but sometimes his personal life seems….overly-emotional? It seems like he often felt put upon in some way, based on what I’ve read.


  5. That museum sounds so cool! Now I want to hear your thoughts on all these new books you’re going to read based on that exhibit! I’m curious – what’s the average price of a burger out where you are? Because that would be a pretty standard total in a restaurant around here.


    • I just looked it up what it would cost for the burger, fries, and drink here, and it’s $14.89. So, that’s a few dollars less. Then again, I live in a medium-ish size city.

      The books I added are mostly older, so I’m excited to get into some American classics. I have a deficit in older books in my reading history, especially the U.S., oddly.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ok, that’s not that different from what we would pay. In fact, we got burgers from a local takeout spot last night and our total with fries (though without drink) was pretty close. We tend to pay more in grocery stores here than in nearby cities so I was curious.


        • I don’t pay a ton of attention to the individual price of items in the grocery store because if I need it, I need it. However, I am cognizant of how the total keeps going up overall. I had a range where I thought “this is normal” when I paid, and now it’s much higher.


  6. Stressful times and I hope you’re feeling a lot better very soon. I always thought having a garden meant popping out with an attractive basket and snipping shit, but actually it’s always heaving around sweatily for no good purpose, even though we have a v small garden really!


  7. Oh Melanie! I think you are allowed to turn on the AC in your case! How long until the stitches come out? The writer’s museum looks really cool. And I love that you have added Silent Spring to your TBR. Carson is an amazing writer.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your blog is impactful, because any time I do something that affects the environment, I think of you. I’m sitting here with no lights on and my laptop unplugged because I was thinking of you. 🤣

      The stitches dissolve naturally, but have to have Vaseline on them to keep them from getting brittle. I was supposed to be done with that today, but turns out I’ve been sentenced to one more week.

      I did learn that Carson had terminal cancer while she was writing Silent Spring but kept it under wraps so no one could accuse her of writing because she was mad about her own condition.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I really hope this week goes better for you. ❤ The writers museum sounds fun! Chicago sounds fun in general. Moth has been but I have not. I want to see that sweet aquarium!
    I'll admit, you've got me leaning closer and closer to giving Daphne du Maurier a chance. 🙂


    • The aquarium is cool, but there are SO MANY PEOPLE. And everyone wants a photo of everything, which is weird because the animals are in water and don’t photograph great unless the flashes are going off — which they will. But! If you can go on a weekday, that could be cool.

      Daphne du Maurier is awesome. I will say sometimes her first chapters are a bit dense, but if you do your best and think, “Yeah, okay” and then keep reading, you’re all good.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I hope you are feeling much better soon (and it sounds like the AC was a medical need so you definitely shouldn’t feel bad about it)!

    I liked Frenchman’s Creek, but I was never nearly as convinced by the pirate as I felt du Maurier wanted me to be. I’ll be interested to see your thoughts!


    • He wasn’t a terribly piratey pirate. He planned things and always went for the most risky version, but he was also kind and sweet. It’s like he was too sweet to be a cutthroat lord and pirates are less devilish than English landholders.


  10. um ok what???? That Daphne Du Maurier book is REALLY piquing my interest. I’ll wait until your review, and if you like it I may jump on that ol’ bandwagon.

    Also – not being able to exercise (or even just move comfortably when you need to) is the absolute worst, and I feel you.


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