Friday, February 28, 2020

What to Watch March 2020

Spring is nigh, and this TV lover's thoughts turn to new shows on the horizon. As always, I've made my list of shows we'll be looking for in the Choco household, and I'm sharing it with you, dear readers, along with links to everything coming to the ever-expanding universe of streaming services.

And away we go!

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

My Favorite Books Read in the 2010s

My Favorite Books Read in the 2010s

The 2010s passed by in the blink of an eye. The most satisfying way I can measure all that time slipping through my fingers is through books: What did I read that I loved each year?

So I've looked back at my Goodreads account, and even pried open my old Library Thing account, to check out what I read each year for the last decade. I've compiled the books and audiobooks I liked the most – not the ones I rated most highly, but what I look back on fondly or that left a lingering impression.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
I loved this book and its main character so much! Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is a tale of loneliness and trying to overcome childhood trauma, a story of not fitting in and not understanding why. I don't want to give anything away by detailing her struggles and their outcome, but the story grabbed me immediately and I couldn't wait to find out what would happen.

I sympathized with Eleanor even though I could see why other characters often found her odd or difficult. As author Gail Honeyman said in an interview with The Bookseller: "I thought it was important that Eleanor was never self-pitying, because I think as a reader that is when you lose sympathy for a character. Even if [a character] has been through horrendous experiences, if they are seen as self-pitying, it’s a very distancing thing. She’s broken but she’s not destroyed. She’s a survivor of it all."

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Me by Elton John

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Of all the music I've loved in my life, I come back most often to Elton John's songs, the tracks least likely to prompt me to change the dial or tell Alexa to skip. I'll listen to it the rest of my life, and I'm sure people will still be listening to it many lifetimes after I'm gone.

Maybe I enjoyed every page of his autobiography, Me, so completely because I'm a fan, but I don't think it's only that. The writing is simple, engaging and honest, with a thread of humor and self-awareness running through it like a clear, sparkling stream. It swept me along.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Fun with The Oscars

I never cared to watch award shows when I was single, and I still don't – with one exception: The Oscars. Since my husband and I like watching movies together, seeing which ones scoop up awards is a fun game for me. My husband may grumble that he doesn't care about the Oscars, but we always have a good time watching and comparing notes.

With the help of printable ballots offered by various websites, we make it into a no-stakes sporting event. If you want to play at home, grab a ballot and mark your votes in advance. PureWow offers a great printable ballot. You can also peruse the Oscar Nominees laid out with nice thumbnails to jog your memory of a given movie or role. That site also offers a printable ballot. (Several sites have ballots; I like to look over a few and find one without a lot of unnecessary extra graphics and a layout I like for printing.)

Monday, February 3, 2020

I Miss You When I Blink by Mary Laura Philpott

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

These essays had a comfortable sense of familiarity to me. They made me laugh, nod my head in recognition, or mull over the truth that even when your world sounds pretty great in many respects (as the author's certainly does), you can still get sucker-punched by life and your own issues. Hell, even when you have some pretty significant problems, you can usually count the ways millions of people in the world have it worse – yet knowing that doesn't make your troubles melt away like a snowman in the sun.

Many passages reminded me of myself ... in small ways. The messed up ways rather than the "You're winning at life, pal!" ways. Her dire sense of direction, the need to plan things out, get things right, check off boxes, be responsible and reliable and expect others to behave similarly. Sometimes annoying the shit out of others with all of that. Taking up the slack at work or anywhere really; if others don't do what needs to be done, stepping up. And end up taking on too much. Swimming in anxiety at times. Yep, sounds familiar.