the habit of being_7.22.14


The thing about being under the weather when you’re never under the weather is that it affords one a certain amount of time in bed to read. Of course said time was made possible by the three older kidlets who entertained the Wee Lass in royal fashion and kept a steady supply of tea coming my way. This is clearly an instance of my parenting paying off, affirmation we haven’t banged up this gig too badly. So indulge me, pretty please, with yet a second post this week about my reading (in case you missed it, the first post can be seen here).


“Perhaps,” I thought, while her words still hung in the air between us like a wisp of tobacco smoke — a thought to fade and vanish like smoke without a trace — “perhaps all our loves are merely hints and symbols; vagabond-language scrawled on gateposts and paving-stones along the weary road that others have tramped before us; perhaps you and I are types and this sadness which sometimes falls between us springs from disappointment in our search, each straining through and beyond the other, snatching a glimpse now and then of the shadow which turns the corner always a pace or two ahead of us.”

— Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited


Rereading Brideshead Revisited, the story of Charles Ryder’s entanglement with the Flyte family again as an adult has been an entirely new reading experience. Reading Waugh as a youth and again as an adult, especially this, this story of youth and privilege and sensuous pleasures has me ready to declare Waugh as the lyric novelist par excellence. The subtitle, The Sacred and Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder, casts a light on the themes of the novel — love as interpreted by the Catholic church vs secular love, and the concept of sin — these themes underlie the novel.

Brideshead Revisited is a haunting, melancholy swan song to all that is elegant and pure in this world. An ode to the idealism of youth, it is pure poetry, a reminder that beauty and love exist in this dreary and heartless world.


Do you have a book you revisited as an adult for a completely new reading experience?

  • Brideshead Revisited is one of my sister’s favorite books, I’ve never read it.
    I think the book To Kill A Mockingbird is a book I appreciate much more now that I have read it several times as an adult and would place it in my top ten.
    I do hope you are feeling better Amanda and I am glad you have such a sweet family to take care of you.ReplyCancel

  • Kirsten

    I loved Donna Tartt’s The Secret History and absolutely loved it. Until I read Brideshead Revisited, and realised that this really was the original classic. Wonderful book. Hope you’re feeling better soon!ReplyCancel

    • admin

      Kirsten, I loved The Secret History, gave copies to all my friends for birthdays. So good. But yes, there is something about a true classic that is just life changing!ReplyCancel

  • I’ve always wanted to read Bridehead Revisited but never have.

    I remember Wuthering Heights was a very different read as an adult vs. when I was a teenager. Also even the Anne of Green Gables series. I really enjoyed the books where Anne is a mother much more than I did when I was younger.ReplyCancel

  • Janet

    Gift From The Sea never disappoints. Feel better. Love that the family is providing extra love on you through your sickness :) ReplyCancel

    • admin

      Janet, that is such a fabulous book!ReplyCancel

  • I’ve read that book twice and each time I had a different experience. Once as a teen and then a few years ago. I found Sebastian’s life quite sad both times. I also saw he mini series back in the 80′s (70′s???) on PBS–love! I hope you’re feeling better.ReplyCancel

    • admin

      Karen, yes! Sebastian, poor miserable Sebastian and yet he seemed to cultivate bad decisions, didn’t he? You know I’ve never seen any interpretation of this book on screen. Husband says I should watch the Jeremy Irons version but I’m afraid of disappointment ;-) ReplyCancel

  • ah, one of my favorites. i remember so well reading it during a family vacation when i was in 7th grade and not wanting to do anything but sneak away and get back to it…ReplyCancel

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Yes, it is clear to me other people are affected by the decisions I make, but in the end it is my life, the only one I’ll ever have. I’ve made promises I cannot keep.

So I sit and wonder, to what am I entitled? Do I deserve this new life I’ve slipped into? Can I leave behind a life I feel is no longer mine?

— Denise Parsons, After the Sour Lemon Moon



After the Sour Lemon Moon is a quiet novel but one not to be underestimated. Sophia is a woman looking to rebuild her life and she does so in a cottage in foggy Northern California.

As a mother, I was alternately staggered and mesmerized by Sophia’s decision to leave home, her family. I think it’s fair to say this is something we’ve all thought about on the particularly bad days, a fleeting thought that never translates into anything but grumbling. I dithered — is this incredibly brave or is it cowardice? In Sophia’s case, I think it was incredibly brave to leave, to claim the space and time necessary to find her footing, and then to actively choose to build a better life, a life of her choosing.


PS: Denise, the author, blogs here — it’s a quiet and beautiful space worth visiting.

  • That quote is so powerful in it’s complexity… I’ll be adding this to my must read list!ReplyCancel

  • Denise’s spot is quite nice and peaceful, thank you for the introduction.ReplyCancel

  • Intrigued, adding it to my reading list. Thank you.ReplyCancel

  • going on my list…ReplyCancel

  • i’m currently reading through the archives, it’s seriously blowing my mind:

  • I love coming here and getting book recommendations. I choose books carefully, because I don’t have enough time to read books that aren’t really grabbing me…I’m blessed to have access to SO many thousands and thousands of books, but my standards are pretty particular, so I want to spend time on books that live up to them. (and of course my standards come from my own unique personality, so it’s not always a matter of one book being “better” than another; I just personally preferred it.) Anyway. All that to say, thanks for another intriguing book recommendation. :) Your recommendations tend to perfectly meet my standards! :) ReplyCancel

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“Wasn’t that the point of life? To find someone to share it with?

And if you got that part right, how far wrong could you go? If you were standing next to the person you loved more than everything else, wasn’t everything else just scenery?”
― Rainbow Rowell, Landline

I bought Landline based solely on having read Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park. And this was decidedly different, not YA but adult and not reading the blurb prior to purchase (impulsive much?) I was surprised by the story. While a thoroughly enjoyable read and full of great pop culture references, Landline was a good read but the story and the main character (Georgie McCool) did not grab me like Eleanor & Park did.

I picked up We Were Liars after hearing all the raves. I loved the story and the unconventional writing style ― it’s beautifully crafted and pieces of the story are told through re-imagined fairy tales. If I had to describe it, I’d go with unusual and inventive. We Were Liars is a tragic story full of suspense and I didn’t see the ending coming until Lockhart delivered it ― big points for that.

What are you reading?


  • I was so excited to see you had read We Were Liars because it’s on my list and I value your opinion so much.
    Right now I’m reading The Husband’s Secret and wondering why it has so many great reviews? Maybe it’s me or maybe I just haven’t reached the great part yet, but so far it’s just kind of blah.

    I hope you have the best day with your family and your new six year old!ReplyCancel

    • admin

      Tracey, I’ve not read The Husband’s Secret. You’ll have to let me know if it gets better!ReplyCancel

      • Amanda, a complete waste of time and money, don’t bother.
        I have started We Were Liars and I’m loving it, thank you.ReplyCancel

  • i’ve been on the fence about Landline. i read Eleanor&Park, loved it and so i read Attachments which while enjoyable did not hold me like E&P did.
    i’ve added We Were Liars to my to read list, waiting for availability at the library.

    currently reading Guy In Real Life by Steve Brezenoff. Steve went to college with my husband so i’m super excited to actually “know” the author!ReplyCancel

    • admin

      Lan, If you *loved* E&P, you will most likely find Landline interesting but not gripping – I’d suggest a pass.ReplyCancel

  • I will have to jump on the Rainbow Rowell bandwagon. Everyone raves about Eleanor and Park and likes it best of all her novels.

    I’m reading “Goodnight June” (which hasn’t gripped me like her other novels) and still working on “The Bird in the Tree.”ReplyCancel

    • admin

      Danielle, I found Violets in March interesting enough to finish but not compelling enough to make me want to pick up any of her other books. If you make it through, keep me posted and let me know if it gets better!ReplyCancel

  • maddalena70

    I am reading “A mother’s rules of life”, “The message” aka the Bible in contemporary language and “Plan it do not panic. Everything you need to know to successfully create and use a meal plan”ReplyCancel

  • oh my list is ever growing and you are not helping at all. Another two books to put on the to read list! Thanks :D ReplyCancel

  • Just finished When God Was A Rabbit and enjoyed it as I could relate to many things from my childhood, some great characters…an overall good read. Going to be starting Instructions For A Heatwave next by Maggie O’Farrell.ReplyCancel

  • i have just finished Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand – beautifull written, hilariously funny at times and so very English in places, it made me long for England.

    i am now halfway through The Pilots Wife and enjoying that too.ReplyCancel

  • I’ll have to pick up When We Were Liars, that sounds really interesting. I don’t have any fiction in my stack right now, all nonfiction (of the how-to variety).ReplyCancel

  • i’m reading WILD by cheryl strayed….and it is sooooo good. it will be a movie later this year and i’m so excited to see it!!!ReplyCancel

  • I get so excited when I hap upon one of your reading posts! I added We Were Liars to my list. I liked Eleanor and Park, but I’ll probably pass for the time being on her new book. I just finished Wally Lamb’s We Are Water. It was good not great. Now I’m very much enjoying The Orphan Train and The Empathy Exams. I’m also rereading Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible – it’s one of my favorites!ReplyCancel

  • THanks for mentioning We Were Liars, I’ve requested it from our library. I’m reading Noble Norfleet by Reynolds Price, one of my very favorite authors. I just started The Case for God, by Karen Armstrong. Her books have helped me make sense of God and religion. And, I just finished The Violent Bear It Away by St. Flannery! Wow.ReplyCancel

  • Thanks for the update on Landline. I think I will pass for now. May add We Were Liars, but I have a long list. It may be awhile before I get to it! Just finished a few. My mother encouraged me to try Outlander and The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls. I am embarrassed to say Gabaldon’s book held my attention, and I liked it. It was a good story. DiSclafani’s work was just okay. I did not find the main character to be one I could appreciate. I also finished a bit of David Sedaris and am working on Benediction (which I am enjoying).ReplyCancel

the habit of being_maths
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If I had to put my finger on it, I’d say we found the soft spot of summer late last week. The soft spot being the place where things have slowed to an almost standstill. Mornings come a bit later (as do bedtimes), meals revolve a variety of favorite salads, a baguette, fresh fruit. As I write, the Nacho works on the math lesson he requested and the Wee Lass is coloring. The Frog Prince is sprawled on the sofa, one leg slowly keeping time to some internal rhythm while he reads this (again). The Poulette is on the stoop reading this and working closer to her goal of reading the entire series by Christmas. The Red Bean, the soon-to-be teenager, is sitting at the other end of the table eating her english muffin and drinking tea, still unable to form a complete sentence. There is an entire day stretching ahead of us full of nothing and yet full of promise. This is our soft spot. This is not idleness, listlessness, nor torpor. This is us settling in for the long haul that is summer in the deep south, much like one would sink into a well loved couch.

Weaving words along with everyone else inspired by julu prompt-a-day. join us and link up over here, on the write alm fb page, or on twitter or instagram using the hashtag #writealm.


  • I can picture it- sounds lovely and soothing, nice to take life a little easier- I feel as if I am in the slow lane too, the heat forces me too.
    Congratulations Amanda, hope you are feeling well in the heat.ReplyCancel

  • Kirsten

    Ah, perfect. Sounds just like our summer – despite our weather and the length of our summer being quite different! I don’t really understand people who feel the need to fill their days with planned activities. Well, I understand that they’re different from me! Our days are much more like those you describe – moving gently from one thing to another, perfectly content with the simplicity of our lives.

    And, Nancy Drew! I’d forgotten about Nancy Drew!ReplyCancel

  • Summer has my heart, for just this reason.ReplyCancel

  • Reading your words always transports me making it seem like I am there in the corner watching your day unfold, just perfect Amanda.
    Oh, and the photo of the wee lass with her color is priceless :) ReplyCancel

  • I can actually envision this scene.

  • Your soft spot of summer sounds good. My soft spot starts when I finish work next Wednesday until August 10th…I CANNOT wait : ))ReplyCancel

  • Manise

    Soft spot. Love it! Your description and definition is the best! And that photo of the Wee Lass slays me. Such intense concentration, the hugeness of that crayon in her plump hand and fingers curled around just so……. you made my day. :-) ReplyCancel

    • admin

      thank you, manise! that was her first box of crayons (she’d been using some coloring blocks) and first coloring book so big milestone :) ReplyCancel

  • Sounds like a really good place to be. :) ReplyCancel

  • Such fond memories I have of a summer spent reading Nancy Drew!ReplyCancel

    • admin

      Me too, Erin! Nancy Drew was so well loved.ReplyCancel

  • When I turned 13 my summer was spent on the front porch swing reading books and keeping a list of what I read. It was the BEST summer ever. Love seeing a peek into your summery days and the rhythm.ReplyCancel

  • Oh my. This photo. Eep! So happy for the long ease of days you have been experiencing. And I love your words here. The beautiful sink into summer. I think I have that couch too. XOReplyCancel

the habit of being_7.10.14

I’m not one to write sonnets, nor to read them (at least since I left academia behind). What I do love is that sonnet comes from the Italian sonetto, meaning a little sound or song. And that one up there in the photograph in the crazy outfit only a 2yo could love, it’s what she is. My wee lass, our Bootsie McFly, she is the song in our days.

I like my poetry half-rhymed, unrhymed, and even unmetrical. I like lyrical beauty and depth, the exaltation of everyday miracles. And that is what my little sonnetto brings to our days, a world full of beauty, love, and wonder. Thank you my wee Irish songbird.

PS: why write?

Weaving words along with everyone else inspired by julu prompt-a-day. join us and link up over here, on the write alm fb page, or on twitter or instagram using the hashtag #writealm.


  • Your thoughts make me smile, and what a sweet sweet photograph.ReplyCancel

  • Such a sweet picture and words <3 these words you wrote could come from my soul too "I like lyrical beauty and depth, the exaulation of everyday miracles." Yes. This. Those are the types of poems that have been coming from my pen lately. I was starting to think it wasn't "real" poetry because I never rhyme. Silly brain!ReplyCancel

  • Manise

    So sweet… all of it!ReplyCancel

  • Oh, what a sweetheart! Love your words too Amanda.ReplyCancel

  • she is a sweetie and I can imagine those little ditties she is humming. That is what I miss most about having little ones in the house.ReplyCancel

  • Ellie

    A real cutie that’s for sure, she’s so delightful. I had a little curly haired one who, at this same age sang all day in her own made-up words. She was the song in our day in more ways than one – all grown up now she still is too :) ReplyCancel

  • such a sweet reflection and tribute to your wee lass…ReplyCancel

  • LOVE the chalkboard wall!!!
    We have few walls in this house…but you did it on the back of a door…AHA!

    • admin

      C– the back of a door counts as a flat surface and it’s a weird door we never use so win win!ReplyCancel