Books Read in June 2023

Middle Grade

A First Time for Everything
Dan Santat
Read for Librarian Book Group

Santat takes us along on the trip to Europe he took in middle school. So much freedom those kids had!

Young Adult

Some Kind of Hate
Sarah Darer Littman

A very interesting premise that was bogged down by stilted dialogue and annoying omissions. Here are two: How does one make a spiked bat? How do you block security cameras? It seemed as if the author didn’t want to give us that information, but the show-don’t-tell rule still applies to things you don’t want your readers to do.

Different for Boys
Patrick Ness and Tea Bendix
Read for Librarian Book Group

A very of-the-moment book what with the self-censoring black bars across text to make a point. But also succinctly and briefly examines and explores being gay in high school.

Nigeria Jones
Ibi Zoboi

Nigeria’s grown up in “the Movement” a Black separatist household. Her mother is gone, and she’s navigating life and coming to terms with what she believes rather than what her father believes.

Saints of the Household
Ari Tison
Read for Librarian Book Group

Two brothers each give their perspective of the last semester of their senior year of high school and the aftermath of a fight. To find their way, they connect more with their Bribri (Indigenous Puerto Rica) heritage.

Warrior Girl Unearthed
Angeline Boulley
Read for Librarian Book Group

I love a main character who is an underachiever, and Perry is one such character. She also fully knows herself. That’s why learning more about NAGPRA rocks her world. This book is also a good mystery and readers will benefit if they have recently read Firekeepers Daughter.

Buffalo Flats
Martine Leavitt
Read for Librarian Book Group

Rebecca and her family are “settling” Canada in the 1890s and this book abounds with pioneer details and a sprinkling of love interests. This is a slim book that packs in a lot of detail.

I was Born for This
Alice Osman

A famous 18-year-old trio is wrapping up a word tour in London. Angel is a superfan who is finally going to meet the band. Told in alternating perspectives from Angel and Jimmy, one of the members of the band, we get a thorough examination of celebrity from both sides.

Grownup Fiction

Romantic Comedy
Curtis Sittenfeld

An engaging book that hit all my pleasure zones. So much so that I read it again immediately after finishing it. Aside from hanging out with a female writer of a sketch comedy show, I wrapped Sittenfeld’s long paragraphs and observations of subtle things around me like the warm blanket they are.

“It was a belated realization to have, but it occurred to me that perhaps this was how grownup conversations worked—not that you communication didn’t falter, but that you both made good-faith attempts to rectify things after it had.”

Curtis Sittenfeld, Romantic Comedy

Once More with Feeling
Elissa Sussman

This is a serviceable romance that unfortunately was next up after I read Curtis Sittenfeld’s book Romantic Comedy. While the main romance was served up as usual, I never got the feeling the main characters had anything to do with starring in a Broadway play. Whereas with Sittenfeld’s book, I felt like I was sitting in the writers’ room at a sketch comedy show.

Grownup Nonfiction

Hollywood Ending: Harvey Weinstein and the Culture of Silence
Ken Auletta

A deep dive into Weinstein and his various enablers. It includes his trial in New York City. Detraction: the book put a big focus on the size and condition of Weinstein’s body in a way I didn’t love. There are many gross things about Weinstein. There’s no need cast his body, which is similar to bodies of a wide variety of people—the majority of them good and kind people, as gross.

Four SKS Postcards

Sara wrote me four postcards and posted them on the same date. They arrived on the same date!

On this postcard, Sara sent some postcard fun from a quiet Sunday in her house.

This arty card came from Yachats. Sara also bought a bunch of older cards for 25 cents each. I enjoy the wallpaper-like background, the bird and the enthusiastic-but-waffling message.

This card is very pink. And very message-y. Sara says hi.

Sara sent this postcard from Eureka Books (I’ve been there too!) to marvel over the letter I sent to her house in Arcata, but which was delivered to her campus mailbox, for some unknown reason.

Celebrating Matt’s Birthday at Emperor Georgiou’s Tea Room

Somewhat recently, Emperor Georgiou’s Tea Room, set up (tea) shop in Kenton. Matt decided to celebrate his birthday there so we could experience the tea.

Some pretty cups.

One of our platters of food. While no service job is easy, being a wait staff at a tea shop does have its advantages: a very limited menu; a set timeframe; the inability for people to become inebriated by consuming the product.

I grabbed a picture of Matt and his mom, Linda. I neglected to catch the rest of the table.

Two Good Choices I Made with Orange Door Landscaping

When we redid the side yard to feature native plants, I planted two bushes, one to the left of the door and one in the front bed. This is the first year they have really popped.

To the right of the door is Oceanspray (Holodiscus discolor) which has done a great job of growing in the shade of the flowering plum tree. It has also behaved by growing up more than out, giving us a bit of a screen in front of the porch. I have done a bit of pruning to keep it from shooting out to the sidewalk, but not very much. It’s a very vertical plant.

I was excited to plant Syringa or Lewis’s Mock Orange (Philadelphus lewisii) because it’s the Idaho state flower, and I’ve always like to say the word “Syringa.” It has also done a great job growing mostly upward, though it needs a little more pruning than the Oceanspray. And it tends to fall over, if not anchored to a stake. But it’s very pretty in general and I love the white flowers. The USDA fact sheet says Native Americans used it for arrow shafts, combs, bowls, cradles, and other things.

Here’s to success in landscaping, especially landscaping carried out by a person with few landscaping skills.

Shopping for the 30-Year Reunion

My 30 year–high school reunion is in July, so it’s time to find something to wear. There are two events, so I need two dresses. (Two new dresses are not actually required, but I included them in the budget for this weekend. Because who doesn’t want new dresses? And new new dresses, not new-to-me dresses.)

After flaming out at Nordstrom’s—I didn’t seem to catch their legendary customer service—I visited Amelia Boutique* to see if they had potential candidates.

*Reporting from the future, I see that Amelia Boutique has closed. I’m quite sad to hear that.

Boy, did they! Amelia brought me a ton of options, even ones I wouldn’t have necessarily chosen myself. I found a really great dress (it’s the blue one on the left).

Amelia also helped me problem solve as there was a fun dress, but not in my size. She pointed that all purchases come with free alterations, and with the dress I was looking at, I could buy a larger size and then take it in so it fit.

I did just that. It worked perfectly. What a great day of shopping this was!

SKS Visits the Trees of Mystery

In somewhat of a postal service miracle, the four postcards that Sara sent commemorating her visit to the Trees of Mystery arrived on the same day.

I visited the Trees of Mystery in 2019, but Sara, living a few hours south, finally made her way north to this wonderful site. (To be fair, there was a pandemic in the middle that jumbled things up.)

In this card, Sara points out the vintage cars in the lot and hazards a guess that this photo is from 1978 or 1982.

Sara said that her family enjoyed brunch at the Forest Café, and that it was a “unique dining experience” as the postcard promises.

Sara was traveling with her niblings, who she calls niblets.

Sara reports that Dr. Summer Sara is balancing some work and play and that she was glad the Trees of Mystery was part of that play.