Books Read in October 2022

Picture books

Standing in the Need of Prayer: A Modern Retelling of the Classic Spiritual
Carole Boston Weatherford, Frank Morrison
Read for Librarian Book Group

Weatherford and Morrison work their magic as they show Black history through the classic spiritual. Great endpapers!

Young Vo
Read for Librarian Book Group

We spend the day with Dat as he goes to school where a different language than his language is spoken. Illustrations show the nuances of the day.

Young Chapter Books

Cress Watercress
Gregory Maguire and David Litchfield 
Read for Librarian Book Group

An old-fashioned (possibly pedantic?) children’s book with gorgeous illustrations. The story centers on Cress, the daughter of a family of rabbits that has lost their their father.

Middle Grade

Maizy Chen’s Last Chance
Lisa Yee
Read for Librarian Book Group

This otherwise interesting story of a California Girl who spends her summer at her Minnesota grandparent’s Chinese restaurant and learns about paper sons is hampered by a lot of telling not showing that prevented this reader from making a deeper connection to the material.

Iveliz Explains it All
Andrea Beatriz Avogo
Read for Librarian Book Group

A novel in verse that is also journal entries in verse about the titular character who is having trouble taking care of her mental health after losing her father.

Young Adult

The Epic Story of Every Living Thing
Deb Caletti

Caletti does a lot with Harper and Instagram culture and being on a cell phone all the time. Plus sperm donors and helicopter parents. I loved watching the new bonds form between Harper and her half-siblings. The story felt unwieldy in the middle, but a plot twist perked it right back up.

Young Nonfiction

Yes! No! Subtitle Goes Here
Megan Madison and Jessica Ralli
Read for Librarian Book Group

Introduced the concept of consent in a perfectly adequate way. I appreciated the note at the beginning suggesting the grownup readers to ask the child or children they are reading to if they want to read the book together. Good modeling.

American Murderer
Gail Jarrow
Read for Librarian Book Group

While saddled with a true-crime-type title, this is actually an engaging study of how hookworm affected Southerners in the U.S. I learned a ton including that very few rural people in the South had any outhouse facility. Those that did often had unsanitary privies that leaked. Includes a ton of great photos and articles and pamphlets from the time. The photos are nearly all of white people, which makes sense for the times, but I would have liked that unpacked a little bit more.

Victory. Stand!: Raising My Fist for Justice
Tommie Smith, Dawud Anyabwile, Derrick Barnes
Read for Librarian Book Group

Anyabwile’s masterful illustrations lead Smith’s story of one of the athletes to gave the Black Panther salute at the Mexico Olympics. This wobbles a bit at the end, but it’s tough to sum up decades of discrimination that resulted from a few minutes of protest.

Grownup Nonfiction

Sure, I’ll Be Your Black Friend
Ben Phillippe

Phillippe offers to be your, yes your, black friend in this interesting memoir about his life as a Haitian-born Canadian immigrant who now lives in the U.S. and is an author and academic. His humor-—so present in his books—makes an appearance here. And I agree with his ranking of Rory’s boyfriends.

The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey
Rinker Buck

A coworker has asked me twice if I’d read this, and I read it so I will be ready to say yes the next time he asks. This is a long book, and about halfway through I figured out what bugged me about it. It was the taking for granted that wanting to travel on the Oregon Trail in a covered wagon pulled by donkeys would result in actually getting to do that. That’s one thing that Millennials are much better at than any generation that has come before: recognizing and calling out their privilege. Just a nod that not everyone gets to spend $30k on just the wagon, not to mention taking months off of work to ramble, would have gone a long way.

It took until three-quarters of the way through the book to figure out the other thing that wasn’t working. Buck has a tin ear for dialogue. Compact histories of trail-related minutia? Top notch! Descriptions of landscapes and the people in them? Well done! Relaying conversations. Not good at all.

It’s also a book that brings in Buck’s family of origin quite a bit, but that very large family is boiled down to his father, his brother, and a few passing mentions of other siblings. I was very curious about his mother and his sisters, but they were not to be found. It’s a very male-centered world.

With all of that said, I enjoyed many parts of this book. His summation of how donkeys built the US changed my view of those animals and their place in history. It was interesting to see him prepare for his trip and the many things that unfolded during the journey.

Where Am I Now?
Mara Wilson

“Oh yeah, her,” I said when the library hold arrived. I came by this book because Wilson was a guest on a podcast I listen to. These essays give insight into her time as a child start, the death of her mother when she was eight, and her transition into adulthood as a formerly famous child start. It was enjoyable to read about a child star making it to adulthood without falling into the usual traps of alcohol and other drugs.

Seven Seasons (and One Revival) of Gilmore Girls Later…

I resisted Gilmore Girls for years. It was many seasons, they were hour-long episodes, I watched the pilot and wasn’t blown away. But then I ran out of things to watch and so started limping through season one, still not loving it. My friend Ariel encouraged me to keep going and at least make it to the second season so I could start listening to a fan podcast, the Gilmore Guys.

I almost didn’t make it to season two of the show, but then I did, and from there I kept going. Is it a show I love? Nope. My feelings about the Gilmore Girls are complex and kept evolving as I watched it. Here are various thoughts sorted into Red, Yellow, and Green categories.



Emily Gilmore, Lorelai’s mother and Rory’s grandmother, is a person I would move myself far away from, should I encounter her in real life. She’s wealthy and thinks that makes her better than other people, she can’t keep a maid, she treats anyone not of her class like they belong under her shoe, and she constantly is scheming, usually in ways I do not like.

None of this is a reflection on Kelly Bishop, who is absolutely amazing in every scene as Emily Gilmore. She’s incredibly fun to watch, and with the revival season she has the best arc of any of the Gilmore girls. But she was a reason I had trouble getting through the first few seasons. “I think Lorelai is selfish, and I think her mother is a completely horrible person,” I told Matt in one of the many monologues he listened to as I complained about the show. Kevin Porter, one of the Gilmore Guys, adores Kelly Bishop (“Bishop is Queen,” is one of the things he says about her and he’s not wrong). If not for his love of Emily Gilmore, I might not have stuck with the series.


Edward Herman is incredible as Richard, Rory’s grandfather and Lorelai’s father. He knows exactly what to bring to the role, mostly gravitas, but also humor when it is called for. Richard the character gets to spend the entire series as the good guy, but he does shady things I find unforgivable including throwing his business partner under the bus. He also, as many men of his generation did, overlooks the many contributions to the household his wife provides.


Amy Sherman-Palladino is a great observer of the small details of first loves and Dean starts off as a great first boyfriend. That goes south fairly early on when he shows his needy true colors. While the main Dean problem is that he gets pretty dumb once Jess comes on the scene, my biggest problem is that he’s full of all sorts of super controlling red flags, like breaking up with Rory when he tells her he loves her and she doesn’t say it back. And I’m not sure how I would handle the situation if my theoretical daughter’s boyfriend rebuilt a car for her and gave it to her as a present, but I would take it as a warning of not-great things to come. And that’s what we get with Dean.

Jared Padalecki was really young when he was cast—18 when filming began—and his acting chops were, shall we say, still in developing . He and Alexis Bledel had almost no chemistry, which made it that much harder to root for them. One of the things I find too crazy to be true is that Padalecki went from this show to Supernatural and that show just kept on running. He started with Gilmore Girls when he was still in his teens, and was on the air with a series until he was 38. That’s a crazy amount of longevity, and I’m guessing his acting got better as he went along.


By the time we got to Logan, the third of Rory’s three boyfriends, I was sick of Rory’s boyfriends (Jess had been particularly exhausting), and I wasn’t looking forward to meeting another one. When he first appears, Logan has a scene with Rory where I didn’t really catch his name and I thought to myself, “I really hope that blonde boy wasn’t Logan.” Alas, the Gilmore Guys confirmed that he was.

I’m not a fan of the super rich or their offspring, and Logan’s big-spending, reckless ways combined with his masterful gaslighting of Rory made their entire relationship torture, even in Season 7, when the writers were determined to make him as amiable as possible. It got so I wished Jess would come back to exhaust me.

The Not-Poverty of the Stars Hollow Gilmores

The Hartford Gilmores are wealthy, and that’s the premise the show is built on. Emily and Richard Gilmore do all the wealthy people things: go to the club, live in a massive house, employ people and treat them poorly, be overly concerned about everyone else’s wealth status, and vacation in Europe. The Stars Hollow Gilmores are, we’re repeatedly told, very poor. Lorelai left all that wealth behind.

Except they are not poor. They eat out nearly every meal (and yes, they seem not to pay for their food ever at Luke’s Diner, but surely they haven’t charmed all the other restaurant owners in Stars Hollow.) They shop a lot. They have many magazine subscriptions. They live in a big house. My guess is that Sherman-Palladino grew up fairly well off in a community where everyone else had much more money than her, so her idea of poverty is different than actual poverty. At one point, when their fortunes have turned, Rory says, “No more clipping coupons?” and I snorted. They’ve never clipped coupons in their life.

I won’t even get into the number of times they are rescued from their theoretical poverty by various wealthy people around them.

Cool Girl Feminism

In Gone Girl Gillian Flynn has a most excellent takedown of the idea of the “cool girl.” It says, in part:

Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer…and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth like she’s hosting the world’s biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all hot. Hot and understanding. 

Lorelai Gilmore was invited long before Gillian Flynn wrote that passage, but she could have been thinking of Lorelai when she wrote it. And I think Amy Sherman-Palladino embodies a kind of Cool Girl Feminism. Lorelai and Rory eat whatever they want without gaining weight. They are kind to their female friends, but they don’t have many of them, and they don’t have anything nice to say about women who aren’t their friends. They actively body shame anyone who isn’t as thin as they are. They chart their own course and then have other people heavily subsidize it. Most of their relationships rotate around men.

I could probably do an entire series about Cool Girl feminism. Alas, it would mean rewatching the series.



Rory’s arc is that she starts out kind of cool in a nerdy way and gradually becomes insufferable. I can’t say I blame her. Something has to be sacrificed when a mother and daughter are best friends and it’s usually the daughter. Alexis Bledel is incredibly pretty and she does a great job, especially given this was her first acting gig and had a dialog-heavy script that she was responsible for large chunks of. But boy, I do not enjoy Rory, especially once she goes off to college.

The not-Poor Start Hollow Gilmore Girls party line centers the scrimping, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at Rory’s path. Private high school education. A new car when she graduates high school. Yale, paid for by her grandparents, with the promise of also paying for graduate school. A summer in Europe with her grandmother because she doesn’t want to deal with her mother’s anger over dropping out of Yale. A free place to live (her grandparents’ pool house that her grandmother redecorates for her) when she drops out. Yale, junior and senior year paid for by her father so she doesn’t have to “be under her grandparents’ thumb” anymore. A passing reference to a trust fund established by her grandmother. And through all those things, Rory continues to act as though she is so very different from her classmates.

It’s also interesting that she’s billed as a girl who is more into books than boys, but then most of the show revolves her story around the boys in her life. And my goodness do they stand in line for her. One of my favorite comments from fans of the Gilmore Guys podcasts was “Who is this girl whose greatest pleasure is spending Friday night alone folding laundry, and why do so many guys like her?”

Plus! (I have a lot of thoughts about Rory) She’s one of those characters that we’re told is super smart and amazing and seems, well, normal? She likes to read. Cool. That doesn’t make her smart. She’s good at being good at school. That’s not the same thing as being amazing or even someone who is very good at life, as we find out in the revival. Overall, she seems like a nice, quiet girl who likes to read and is pretty good at planning parties. Nothing to write home about.


She’s not my favorite character, Lorelai. She’s great with the quips, but I found her parenting style (especially in the first three seasons) to be annoying. I think it’s possible for a mom to be best friends with her daughter, but I don’t think it’s advisable and I don’t think it’s great for the daughter. I don’t think it’s possible for daughters to be best friends with their moms, especially when still growing up. The power differential is too much and there’s all sorts of weird enmeshment issues. Go find best friends your own age, Lorelai!

I also think Lorelai isn’t happy unless the spotlight is on her. I think she is selfish and self centered in a way that had me groaning aloud multiple times during the series.

However, is Lauren Graham brilliant at being Lorelai? Yes. Yes she is. She’s very fun to watch and I think Lorelai could have been so much worse without Graham’s skill as an actor.


Man did I hate Jess from the moment he showed up. Full of dumb anger and no where to go with it and why exactly did Rory like him again? Ariel received more than one postcard that gushed, “A Jess-free episode!” When I asked her how she felt about Jess, she told me that because she’d already seen his whole arc, she had trouble putting herself back in the place where she didn’t know how he turned out.

I did enjoy his needling of Luke, though. And now that I’ve gone through the Jess arc, I can remember how much I hated him, but he somehow managed to redeem himself. Maybe partially because Logan was so bad?


Melissa McCarthy is the best, and she’s delightful as Sookie. However, Sookie’s plot arcs aren’t great. With a few exceptions, she exists to (1) listen to Lorelai (2) be surprised every single time she gets pregnant.


Like Richard Gilmore, Christopher is a man who escapes a lot of aggro that should probably come his way. As the father of Rory, he’s not around when she’s growing up. There’s no mention of him paying child support. And yet he waltzes in when Rory is sixteen and all is forgiven. Not to mention that there’s a plot arc later in the season where he tells Lorelai and Rory he does want them to be a family and just as Lorelai comes around to the idea he pulls the rug out from both of them and switches tracks. And yet this also does not follow him.

David Sutcliff is an adequate actor, but really what makes Christopher fun to watch is the A-plus chemistry he has with Lauren Graham. It’s probably that chemistry that makes him so easy to forgive.


Gilmore Guys

I had a hard time getting through the first season. When I slogged into the second season I queued up the podcast with a skeptical eye. Why should I listen to two guys talk about a show that was famously created by a woman and about women? But the Gilmore Guys won me over. It helped that I had a mirror in Demi, the host who had never watched the show. He said he liked it, but it didn’t feel like he was bowled over by it. And Demi’s underwhelm combined with Kevin’s encyclopedic knowledge was a great combo. I was never going to love it anywhere as much as Kevin, but at least I got insight into why it was popular.

Gilmore Guys built a great following, had interesting guests, and gave me something to talk back to after each episode. Did I love that there was seemingly no editing and the episodes eventually dwarfed the 90-minute to 2-hour Filmspotting podcasts I used to complain about? I did not. But I enjoyed their homespun segments (Fa-fa-fa Fa-fa-fa-fa Fa-fa-fa-fa Fashion!) and their amusing asides. They were people I could interact with in real time (usually by shouting at the podcast) even though the episodes were more than six years old.

Writing postcards after every episode

“HE MADE HER A CHUPPA????!!!!???!?!?!?” was on the first postcard I wrote to my friend Ariel. That was the third episode of the second season when Luke passed off an intricately carved chuppa as something he just whipped up for Lorelai’s wedding to a guy who wasn’t Luke. From that point, Ariel got a postcard after every episode that included my reaction to the episode and my agreements and disagreements with the Gilmore Guys as I listened. I’m not sure she could read everything I wrote (oh, my terrible handwriting) but I had fun writing them. The Season 2 finale had so much happening, I had to switch to a letter, but other than that, it was my chicken scrawl on postcard after postcard.


Oh Lane Kim, the great tragic character of Gilmore Girls. She’s so very cool, what with her love of music and her tricky ways of hiding that love from her disapproving mother. She’s much more interesting than Rory. And like most interesting girls in high school, the boys did not flock to her. She had a brief moment of perfect boyfriend in Dave Ragowski, but Adam Brody went off to do the OC and never came back. She also was on a great trajectory as a drummer. But then came lunkhead boyfriend Zack, a very early marriage, a very early pregnancy (that the real Lane Kim probably would have aborted), twins, and stagnating in her small town forever.

Keiko Agena was always cheerily up for anything and I’m sorry she didn’t get a better character.

Luke (though season 5) (then he turns yellow)

As we have established, I’m not much of a fan of Lorelai or Rory and I’m not a fan of Dean, Jess, or Logan. But I am a fan of Luke. Does he overly involve himself in solving problems for other people? Sure. That’s not great. But other than that, he’s the kind of solid guy everyone should have in their lives. Small business owner, hard worker, grumbles a lot, but does so while donating his time and skills for causes.

When Luke and Lorelai finally got together, they had terrible communication and it wasn’t great. Plus, Luke got all weird about introducing his teenage daughter that he never knew about to Lorelai and it messed up their relationship. That was dumb.

But other than the April Nardini wrinkle, I always loved plots that involved Luke. Except for the ones where Emily and Richard Gilmore treated him like crap because he owned a diner.


Before Gilmore Girls, I knew Sean Gunn as a minor character in the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise. After Gilmore Girls, I know him only as Kirk, the guy in the town who had every single job. His odd, deadpan delivery and earnest nature perked up my viewing and distracted me from the many things I didn’t love about the show. I think the Kirk apex is him playing Teyve in a production of Fiddler on the Roof that otherwise starred children (and culminated in a performance of “Do You Love Me” with a tiny Broadway Baby that helped bring Luke and Lorelai back together), but anyone watching Gilmore Girls has their own favorite Kirk moment.


When Luke’s nephew Jess showed up in town, his mother eventually made an appearance. And with her came TJ, her eventual husband. TJ is played by Michael DeLuise, and as someone who Michael’s older brother Peter DeLuise imprinted on early thanks to 21 Jump Street, I was on board for TJ’s New York-accented idiocy. (This is not generally a popular opinion among Gilmore Girls fans)

Various Townies

Around Season 3, I was all in and probably this had to do with the townies. Babette, Morey, Miss Patty, Gypsy, Kirk, Grant, the Troubadour, and even Andrew all brought a lot of fun to the series. EW has even ranked them for your enjoyment.

Daniel Episodes

Daniel episodes are written by Daniel Palladino, Amy Sherman-Palladino’s husband. He’s not great a female characters (his Emily scenes are incredibly shrill), but he does like a weird plot. And I liked his weird plots. My favorite was when the hermit came to protest. The town of troubadours was also quite fun, and includes a Daniel cameo.

Gilmore Girls Promos

Partway through the Gilmore Guys podcast Kevin asked for and received audio of the original WB (and then CW) promos for each episode. And let me tell you, those promo people did not at all care about spoilers. We listened to them during the podcast episodes, after we’d presumably watched the episode in question. But real-time viewers had to contend with them before they had watched the promoted episode. The marketing people resorted to not only spoilers, but all sorts of trickery like cutting a tiny part of an episode and making it look like a big thing, or stealing scenes from future episodes and making them look like they belonged in the upcoming episode. Shame on them! But very hilarious to listen to after the fact.

TWOP comments

TWOP sounds vaguely dirty (“Dirty!” as Lorelai would say.) but it stands for Television Without Pity, the most wonderful website for early-in-the-millennium TV commentary. Aside from TV recaps, they had a robust group of smart, witty, and sometimes very angry commenters who liked to give their own takes about each episode. And Gilmore Guys liked to read some of those comments aloud. And some of those real-time comments from back in the day were written by Gilmore Guys host Kevin T. Porter when he was sixteen. Aside from being a fun time capsule, it was interesting to see the clever wordplay and the rage. So much rage.

Singing along to the theme song

Famously, Carol King rerecorded the theme song with her daughter. I say famously, because that was one of the press things when the show originally aired that I remember all these years later. It’s a bit of the song “Where You Lead.” The title credits are terrible, though, and since Netflix gives me the option to skip them, I do. The credits are bad enough that I would probably fast-forward if Netflix didn’t have that handy skip option. But, but, but! The Gilmore Guys end every episode by singing along to the theme song and I’m totally on board for that. Especially the part where Kevin throws in a “choo-choo” when the train is mentioned.

My ranking of seasons (original) and parts (of the revival)


  • Season 5
  • Season 4
  • Season 3
  • Season 2
  • Season 1
  • Season 6
  • Season 7


  • Winter
  • Fall
  • Spring
  • Summer

Remembering Leora

It was a sad day today, because we got the announcement at work that our colleague Leora Werner, had died. In early October, she had bacterial meningitis, and it caused multiple strokes. She never recovered.

Leora was the director of marketing for FLO Analytics and she was very good at her job. She was also the mother of two children, one of whom hadn’t even had his first birthday.

Aside from that, she was also a very kind person who looked for ways to connect with people, including me. I will miss her, and I can’t imagine what her family is going through right now.

Leora’s office is right across from where I usually sit when I go into work. She’s been working remotely since her son was born, and we never crossed paths in the office.

The “Don’t complain about the rain!” poster has always been in the background on video calls. I never got around to asking her about it.

One of my coworkers gathered together a few things she had in her office and made a little alter.

Placeholder Stove Cover

As mentioned before, the new stove has a cooktop I’m not looking forward to keep looking nice. I brainstormed with Graham and Julie about what type of cover would be best (Graham voted for butcher block and Julie voted for a nice thick plastic cutting-board type.) But then Julie pointed out that it was a fairly large space and I might find myself not putting the cover back on because it was too heavy and hard to move. She suggested having a placeholder for a while until I was sure I wanted to haul the cover back and forth.

Et voilia!

I asked my brother if he could cut me a scrap of plywood down to 32″ by 22″ did just that. It was also my birthday present.

He said it was scrap wood from The Emerson School, where I used to work. I wonder about that though, because TES didn’t celebrate holidays, so there wouldn’t have been an advent calendar section of shelving. But it might be left over from when the Montessori school was in the building.

#YearofStitch Sampler No. 7

I looked at the seventh sampler and thought, “There isn’t much to this one, maybe I should do four.” And so I did. (And that’s why I’m always behind.) The plan is to make them into napkins.

This was my first time using wash-away stabilizer that sticks to the fabric. That stuff is a wonder for working on dark fabrics. I traced the outline (four times) and got to work. It is hard to see how the colors actually look on the dark fabric, so fastidious people would probably want to do a test swatch.

It doesn’t feel as great as soft fabric does, but it does add a lot of sturdiness to the sewing experience.

The stitches this time are:

  • Sheaf stitch (Outermost sections of the cacti)
  • Pekinese stitch (Middle section of the cacti. Because this was going to be a napkin, I tacked them down)
  • Feather stitch (The other section of the cacti)
  • Woven picot (The cacti flowers, which were also tacked down.)
  • Herringbone stitch (The upper vase decoration)
  • Mountmellick stitch (The lower vase decoration.)

In addition, I outlined the cacti using couching, and the vase with whipped backstitch.

Whipped backstitch. Redeeming backstitch since January 2022, when I learned it. Uneven stitches become a swirly rope!

Overall, I loved mastering woven picot. I’m a fan of things that free stitching from the fabric. Because they were napkins, I tacked those flower petals down, but the could fly free. I found mountmellick to be a bit fussy.

For colors, I used the same two greens for the cacti and then picked colors from four different color palettes I keep on hand. The above is Stop in Santa Fe from Stitch Palettes. The one below is from the mix of colors that I got from Little Dear when I ordered my first embroidery kit. It was the summer blend. And since that blend was supplying the two greens to all four napkins, I was short on colors and added in the red and the yellow. I’m pretty sure those are two different yellows.

This is Chocolate Chip from Stitch Palettes.

This is Stitch Palettes’s Downtown Dubai.

As I was blocking the one with the bright colors, I noticed an unfortunate tear on the side that was going to make the napkin not very easy to stitch up. So that napkin stayed on the blocking device four about three weeks until I figured out the solution. Stay tuned!