Friday, July 19, 2019

heat wave ~ and book and author obsession

It is HOT here in Illinois today, as it is in much of the country. We hit 108F with the heat index and it's supposed to be even hotter tomorrow. I am so grateful for electricity and working AC during weather like this. The humidity is so high that after yesterday morning's thunderstorm, I moved the welcome mat to air out over the railing...and the wet spot on the cement porch from the soaked mat is still there!

Of course, the coneflowers love the heat. They are really taking off now. This photo is from yesterday. I was outside this evening walking around the yard, and saw that all these coneflowers are now in full bloom. Amazing how much they can change in 24 hours.

Phlox is another perennial that loves the heat. It's a beautiful plant and low maintenance, but it spreads like crazy. So don't go putting it in any established garden beds unless you want it to take over. That was obviously a "learn from experience" thing.


We planted peppers and tomatoes in the ground and some in pots. The peppers in the ground barely grew and then were eaten by some kind of bug. The tomato plants in the ground are spindly and barely producing fruit. However, both the peppers and tomatoes in the pots are doing fantastic. I'm assuming it's the soil. Brian loaded the pots with a mixture of potting soil and compost from our compost bin.

What are you all reading lately? I'm in the middle of reading Aging for Beginners - the middle book in the pile below. I highly recommend this book for anyone over the age of 55. It's written by a Zen teacher and he covers topics such as grief and loss, dealing with physical pain and decline, anxiety, depression, loneliness, facing our own death, etc. Sounds like depressing topics, but this book isn't depressing at all. It's more about acceptance of these things and a time of renewal and inner exploration. You don't have to be Buddhist to read or enjoy this book; it's fitting for everyone.

Being an avid reader and book nerd, I'm always fascinated by other people's book piles or shelves. And when blogging friends talk about what they're reading and authors that I'm not familiar with, I look them up. Recently, Claudia at Mockingbird Hill Cottage talked about the author, Beverley Nichols and his books. The books sounded so lovely and charming from Claudia's descriptions. Nichols was an English author, as well as a playwright, composer and public speaker. He's best remembered for his gardening books. They're hard to find - and usually a little pricey when you find them online. I got lucky and found Green Grows the City for only $6 when we were at a used bookstore in Chicago last month. If I like this one, I'll keep my eye out on online (Abe Books is a great source for older books) and in used bookstores for his other books.

A Thousand Years Over a Hot Stove had been on my "want" list for a long time. It was another one I found at the used book store in Chicago and has been sitting in this little reading pile since then. I wanted to finish these three books by the end of the month, but that probably won't happen. A Thousand Years Over a Hot Stove is an illustrated book with recipes and stories that "celebrates the power of food throughout American history and in women's lives" (Amazon). 

I've also discovered some wonderful authors through Dewena at Across the Way and her other blog, Dewena's Window. We have the love of certain food writers in common; namely, MFK Fisher and Ruth Reichl, but Dewena has mentioned other authors that have piqued my interest. Are you familiar with Rumer Godden? I'm not, but can't wait to be! She was another wonderful English author. Yes, I know there's an Oliver Sacks novel at the end of this stack...he's another author I recently read about and was fascinated by, so thought I'd start with his book, Awakenings. Why does there have to be so many interesting and wonderful authors out there? I'll never have time to read all these books!

Dewena has also talked about Elizabeth Goudge on her blog. Now that author I was a bit familiar with, because I already had The Scent of Water on my bookshelf. I just hadn't read it yet. Thanks to Abe Books, I've found a few more of her books to add to my collection. Goudge was a best-selling British author (guess I have a thing for British authors lately!) who won the Carnegie Medal for British children's books in 1946 for The Little White Horse. 

I'd also be remiss if I didn't mention Debbie at Mountain Mama. She's talked about her book piles and latest reads over the years, and I've discovered some wonderful gardening books from her. 

So, do I dare ask what you're reading right now, or the latest author you're obsessed with? Because, you know, I need more recommendations like a hole in the head. 

Have a wonderful weekend and stay cool!


  1. It’s super hot here, too. Spent yesterday going from ac to pool to ac again. I think today will be filled with more of the same! Stay cool!!

  2. So sorry it is so hot there, we are humid like always but only up into the low 90's here. Enjoy your wonderful books.

  3. This heat is getting old, but it does give us a good excuse to stay in and read.
    The first book you mentioned sounds good and filled with advice that would be very relatable at this stage of life. Thanks for the recommendation. I bought a Beverly Nichols book years ago in the gift shop of a local botanical garden. My husband and son ended up ordering the rest of them for me. They are one set of books that made the cut when I did my major book purging before moving. I don't think I ever read all of them, but they make a nice looking grouping.
    I just finished "Educated" and enjoyed it very much.

  4. My cone flowers are toast. They were beautiful till about a week ago. I'm reading a book on my Kindle, but I rarely remember the name if I'm not seeing it on an actual book. In terms of bugs getting to your plants, Nathan said he moved all the herbs I gave him that were lemon (lemon balm, etc) next to his tomatoes and the bugs went away. The insects hate the lemon scent.

  5. Can't help but wonder if your copy of "Green Grows the City" originated in my house in Chicago. It went from me to the Newberry library book sale in Chicago. Maybe?

    1. A possibility! I found this copy at Bookman's Corner on Clark St.

  6. I love Elizabeth Berg. You can check her out on Facebook. She writes bits on there and has three books made up of old posts. But the best are her novels which you can check out at Amazon or your libary site. I plan to look for some of the authors you mention. Thanks!

    1. I have read every one of Elizabeth Berg's books, Joan! :-)

  7. Elizabeth Goudge lived a hop, skip and jump from my childhood home in Devon!
    Her books are lovely.
    Right now I'm reading ICE ("The Nordic Bestseller") and a great title for this heat, by Ulla-Lena Lundberg. I don't think it's available in the US - I was given it by a German friend.

    Your garden is great now the heat has arrived - at least the earlier spring rains are paying off and you should have a beautiful summer. Stay cool - like you, I'm so thankful for a/c and happy we at last replaced our old system this year!

  8. I love seeing other readers' book piles, too. Especially when there is a mix of fiction and nonfiction, like yours. As I was reading this post, I was jotting down titles -- like I need more books to read! I really enjoyed The Scent of Water and would like to read more by that author. I've been reading some self-help books and I'm working my way through a biography of Herbert Hoover (Dan and I are both history nerds). So, I'm ready for a good summer novel, and it's going to be a re-read of one of my favorites -- The Valley of Decision by Marcia Davenport. It was written in 1942 and is one of those rich family sagas that takes place over several generations. Also on my pile is The German Girl by Armando Lucas Correa, and a Daniel Steele that my friend lent me. What would we be without books? :)

  9. Melanie, I think we must be book soulmates. And I'm so glad Claudia brought Beverley Nichols to your attention as he is one of my favorite British authors. I have 9 of his books, 8 of them original early publishing dates. He is such a delight and I start reading them over again in late February each year when I'm longing for spring.

    I reread my Rumer Godden boos constantly too, I think In This House of Brede is my favorite, oh no that's not right, it's my 2nd favorite because China Court is my favorite, maybe even my favorite novel of all time. But then when a house IS the main character that's a plus for me.

    I'm thrilled that you're reading Elizabeth Goudge now! So many wonderful books ahead for you with hers. I have 3 of the ones you show but must read I Saw Three Ships sometime, although I'm wondering if that little one might be in an anthology of hers that I have.

    I'm jotting down Green Grows the City to look for and your Thousand Years Over A Hot Stove sounds intriguing. And yes, like you, I know I'll never read all the books on my books to look for list but we'll sure make a darn good try at it, won't we?

    I can't believe how hot you have been there in the north! More miserably hot than here in Nashville I think. It's like you went from winter to summer with no spring.

    I just thought of a another book loving blog friend of mine that you might want to visit as she posts on books a lot. Nan of Letters from a Hill Farm.

    It's a drizzly cloudy day here so I'm getting ready to start a big new book that came from Amazon yesterday about Nancy Lancaster. My treat for the day!

    Happy reading and a big hug from Dewena!

  10. I can not even imagine 108 in your humidity. Hang in there . . . this too will pass . . . that's the nice thing about bad weather :)

  11. This heat has been brutal. Makes me feel sick from my MS. The humidity has got to go. It's going to rain today and take the humidity with it.🙏🙏

    My husband is a huge book lover. Enjoy your Monday


  12. Thanks for the shout out my friend!! Sadly my library has NONE of these books you've mentioned! I'm currently finishing Anne Tyler's Clock Dance and next on my list is Jan Karon's To Be Where You Are or Daniel Magariel's One Of The Boys. I've been trying to ONLY get books through my library app (FREE!! BUDGET!!) so even though I'm intrigued by SOOOO many books I read about, I limit them...however I did break down and buy a few used books recently....including Gladys Taber's Country Chronicle, and The Magic Apple Tree by Susan Hill, which I'm super excited to settle down with come winter and those long nights by the fire!

  13. Beautiful photos. Stay cool.


Thank you for taking the time to leave a kind comment - I read and appreciate each one!