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November 2015
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I read some books in 2015

I've been meaning to note via Goodreads the dozen or so volumes I completed in the last calendar year. Not that the record there will go away, but this is sort of a more accessible archive. (In some cases I have longer mini-reviews there, but I'm not going to cut and paste.) I love novels and see that almost no non-fiction made the list. I do consume a lot of long-form pieces online; I'll have to look into a way to track that as well. And I read books along with my girls, either before them or at their recommendation.

I'm going to post these chronologically, with a comment or two.

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I read this at the audio urging of NPR's Barrie Hardymon on my fave podcast, Pop Culture Happy Hour. Set about the same time as Downton Abbey, this book shows working-class life in London, quite the contrast. I sped through its thrilling ride during the Christmas-to-New Year's holidays, and I loved it.  

  • Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant by Roz Chast

I received this graphic memoir for Christmas (I think), and as an adult who's lost both her parents, I was especially moved. Of course I've always been a Chast fan, given the family New Yorker subscription that kept me from missing a cartoon. 

This YA novel was younger daughter's Christmas gift, at the recommendation of the NYTimes Book Review. We both loved its Superstorm-Sandy-influenced story, and its autistic protagonist.

  • The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Read this because both girls were into the Percy Jackson series. For me, one was enough, but I enjoyed revisiting the mythology and seeing Riordan's contemporary update.

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  • Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher

OMG, this book cracked me up ~ and I think it would've done so even had I not spent four post-grad years in an English department!

Pop Culture Happy Hour strikes again, with a read-along of this light and entertaining novel. Even though it's set in the 1960s, for some reason I kept picturing Adele. Maybe she can star in the film adaptation!

  • Splinters of Light by Rachael Herron

This author is a personal friend, thanks to this here blogging world: we both started knitting blogs way back in the aughts before Ravelry. I've enjoyed watching her publishing success, first with her Cypress Hollow romance series, and now with a pair of seriously moving novels (the first is Pack Up the Moon). This is a gorgeous familial love story, interestingly worked around early-onset Alzheimer's.

I was getting ahead of the movie version on this one, having done the same for The Fault in Our Stars. Good YA read; Green's a master. 

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  • The Last Flight of Poxl West by Daniel Torday

Like a lot of my reads, this came from the New Releases shelf at my local library branch, and did not disappoint. But it's complex to explain, because there is a memoir within the novel. 

  • Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina

This YA novel is on my older daughter's shelf and I think I read it before she did. Author Meg is local to Richmond and I enjoyed her window into another world.

  • All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

I've heard a variety of opinions on this award-winner, and I get the comments that it's a bit facile, but I truly enjoyed Doerr's tiny chapters full of luscious language.

  • Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

Plucked this off the shelf at Target when I needed a paperback vacation read. I liked it; I lived those 1970s as a teen. I valued the insights into life as a Chinese-American.


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  • Twisted: My Dreadlock Chronicles by Bert Ashe

Another book by a friend; Bert and I attended grad school together two decades ago. This is a remarkable hybrid of memoir, social history and cultural commentary. I learned so much!  

  • Above the Waterfall by Ron Rash

This library find made someone's "Best of 2015" list, but I cannot recall whose. I loved it because I have spent a lot of time in those North Carolina mountains, and the novel successfully incorporates one character's poetic musings.  

I've finished two books so far this year, and am currently working on the first of Ferrante's Neapolitan novels, Ta-Nehisi Coates's Between the World and Me, and the new Elizabeth Strout! 


Alabama Chanin Verd T

[Ooops, there went another three months!] As I was last writing, after warming up with several recycled-T garments, I was ready in summer to spring for an honest-to-God DIY kit straight from the Florence HQ. This would be the perfect project to tote on family vacation and work on in the months when wooly knitting is too darned hot to handle. Fortunately, Alabama Chanin often offers discounts, and I think I used one such opportunity to purchase the Verd Unisex Shirt, which I ordered in a long-sleeved unisex small because I wasn't sure whether to get a women's small or medium. I chose the nude color called Ballet for the bottom layer on the reverse-appliqué front, and replaced the kit's variegated brown embroidery floss with both light pink and variegated gray-to-black.

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And when I couldn't decide which one to stitch around the golden leaves, I ended up using both: the pink for leaves that were whole intact, and the gray for leaves that left the field at the neck and sleeves. 

Because I had the AC women's T pattern at hand, I overlaid it on the cut body pieces and added just a bit of waist shaping. I also stitched and trimmed all of the large leaf motifs that didn't have any small leaves stenciled atop them; in the example that was not the case, but I wanted more of the lighter color to show. (The wall at my local library branch was a nice match, as are the pair of linen pants I made a few years ago.)

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Putting in the sleeves was not difficult – I like the method of holding the sleeve and side seam to be stitched as one. I trimmed the length of the sleeves, actually a bit more than I wish I had. But the finished garment is such a dream to wear! I'm not sure I can put on that scratchy blue wrap skirt now that I have the PJ-comfort quality of the organic jersey to compare. I've worn the finished T so often that I decided it needs a matching skirt, now under construction ~

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