June 09, 2014

The Great Escape


We are big time book readers around here. One of the things I really want to do this summer is spend more time with my nose in a book. I'm getting a good start. That book on top? The Ghost at the Table? Just don't. I don't generally have a lot of time to read so I'm bummed when I finish something that leaves me dissatisfied. My favorite books of all time take place in small towns, Midwest and New England are always lovely but bonus points if it takes place in the South  (saying Hey to my roots Y'all!) and have quirky characters. A few faves that come to mind Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, Where the Heart Is, The Help, The Secret Life of Bees, Divine Secrets of the Yaya Sisterhood, and Saving Ceecee Honeycutt. I also love a good small town, quirky character story set in Europe, Chocolat and The Matchmaker of Perigord come to mind. Now that I've shared some of my favorites, I'm hoping you will share some of yours with me.


I intend to spend a good bit of time this summer plunked right here reading. I'm going to be needing a great escape this summer. After finishing the ceiling demo on our porch project yesterday, we discovered we have quite a roof problem. So not only will this project probably linger through the entire summer but I'm guessing that just blew our budget big time. I, of course had just splurged on some new porch furniture, and in my experience, no good splurge goes unpunished. So now we likely have a new porch roof in our future and as a bonus Millie needs some dental surgery Thursday. Thank goodness for the library which will likely keep me sane through all of this.

43 comments:

  1. I have two favorite book series to share.

    The first are the Mitford books by Jan Karon and they take place in a small town in the south! They are easy reads and so uplifting. The main character is a priest and some may consider this a Christian book series, but I am not a religious person and I absolutely love the main character and the books.

    The second series I recommend are the Outlander books by Diana Gabaldon. I discovered this series about ten years ago when only 5 of the books were out. The 8th book is being released tomorrow. These are really long books - some topping 1,000 pages - but definitely worth the read.

    The nice thing about both is you can try out the first one and only keep reading the series if you like it. Also, because they are popular series I expect your library will carry them.

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    1. LOVE the mitford series! on my list of "comfort books".

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  2. Kate Morton. In order of my favorite first: 1. The Forgotten Garden (Australia/England) 2. The Distant Hours (starts during England WWI) 3. The Secret Keeper (starts during WWII London) 4. The House at Riverton (flapper era)

    They are hefty books, but extremely memorable.

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  3. i'm starting my bookreading list as well, i love reading novels in the summer.
    I really like the series of books by C.A Belmond starting with A Rather Lovely Inheritance and then there are three more and i also like Kate Mortons The forgotten garden
    Some books on my list this summer are:
    The Vintage Teacup Club by Vanessa Greene
    The language of flowers by Vanessa Diffenbough
    The school of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister
    and Casting Off by Nicole R. Dickson
    I'm hoping these are good ones
    Enjoy Your summer reading :)

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    1. The School of Essential Ingredients is wonderful & magical!!

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  4. At least you have a great place to sit and enjoy your reading time. Good luck with the porch repairs. :)

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  5. I love the list of books you mentioned and have read most of them. Someone else commented on the Mitford series and they are great. Just make sure you start with the first one. I enjoy Mary Kay Andrews and Dorothea Benton Frank as well - both southern authors.

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  6. We have many of the same favorites. I love a good Southern quirky story. Check out anything by Joshilyn Jackson. I have loved everything of hers that I've read.

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    1. Gods in Alabama made me laugh out loud so many times--a good read that is somewhat literary as well as fun to read!

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  7. When it rains it pours, doesn't it? Well I'm glad you got that porch furniture or it might have never landed there at your cottage. :)

    My goal is to read more books this summer too. I started a list in 2012 and haven't read most of the books on it so that's my reference point. I too loved Fried Green Tomatoes and all of the Fannie Flagg books. Like Penny, I love Mary Kay Andrews and a few of the others you mentioned I have read. Oh, Where the Heart Is, is a book that I think about all the time...it was such a good story. Have you ever read To Walk Across Egypt? It's a movie but I read the book years ago and it was wonderful! Last summer I read something else by Clyde Edgerton (can't remember what) and it was good too. He's a southern style writer.

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  8. That looks like a wonderful spot to while away summer hours with a good book! Sorry to hear about your porch roof . . . isn't that just how home improvement goes? And it's always the boring stuff like roofs that take all the money and leave nothing for the 'fun stuff'! Good thing you already got that porch furniture!!

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  9. I heartily third Jan Karon's At Home In Mitford Series. :)

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  10. Thanks for the heads up on The Ghost at the Table. People have been showing it on their coffee tables, but now I will pass.

    Yes to everyone above who said the Mitford series - loved them all.

    The Secret Keeper is wonderful and The Forgotten Garden are also favorite.

    I loved The French Gardener by Santa Montefiore.

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  11. Oh this post and all the comments was JUST what I needed! Thank you for all the fun suggestions! I'm going to make a list now! All I've been reading is history curriculum for next year. Not exactly cozy front porch reading.
    I hope your porch gets fixed sooner than you expect.
    I LOVE your aqua bench! Is it vintage? I think I "need" one of those for my summer reading don't you think?

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  12. I recommend books by Elin Hilderbrand they always take place in Nantucket and books by Barbara O'Neal they are based on food! I read a lot outside in the summer, but usually under my apple tree as we do not have an expansive porch. Enjoy!

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  13. YES! The Mitford Series by Jam Karon! Absolutely one of my favorite series that must be read in order. I don't like her new series, though. But Mitford is just like your small town with quirky characters and a wonderful story line. My husband and I actually longed for this fictional place, the food that was detailed beautifully, the quirky and hilarious characters, the charming moments...you will love it!

    I'm looking for good books that have a bit of domesticity in them but not too corny. Tough to find. I loved The Help, Secret Life of Bees, and am currently reading Burial Rites by Hannah Kent...dark but good and interesting!

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  14. There is an old book that is my favorite of all time- It is a long read that takes you through 3 generations...It is Apple Tree Lean Down by Mary Pearce. It is worth checking out if you can find it. I LOVE reading. xo Diana

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  15. have you tried Dorothea Benton Frank? lots of southern quirky characters! also Mary Alice Monroe. Cassandra King. Karen White. enjoy your reading!!!

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  16. Billie Letts? Haywood Smith? Mary Kay Andrews?

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  17. I enjoyed all of the Mitford series, reminds me of our small town. Lately I have been reading Robyn Carr, Virgin River series read them all and now I am on to her new series Thunder Point. Okay, they are a bit on the romance side (nothing wrong with that), but also great small town stuff in there too. I've also gotten hooked on Raeanne Thayne's Hope's Crossing series and of course lets not forget Debbie Macomber's Cedar Cove series. Well, that's me, takes me away reading these books!

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  18. That looks like a good stack of books. Nothing better then sitting outside on a beautiful summer day escaping into the lives of the characters. Enjoy

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  19. I totally feel your pain about the roof...our house is always needing something major done, and sometimes it gets discouraging. Our furnace and central air units are the original of the house - 26 years old! - so we're living on borrowed time with those. We need all new windows and siding, too. And the master bedroom? Still has the original carpet. :-o So, on to better subjects: books. I'm an avid reader, too. Are you on Goodreads? If so, you can follow me on there. I loved all the books you mentioned. Have you read The Obituary Writer by Ann Hood? Other suggestions: Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet; The Baker's Daughter; The Lost Wife; The Language of Flowers; Water for Elephants.

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  20. The Mitford Series, like so many others mentioned, is a delightful escape. The Miss Buncle books (3 in the series) by D. E. Stevenson are very fun. The Scent of Water by Elizabeth Goudge is wonderful, and your daughter might like The Little White Horse by the same author (my 10 year old daughter did).

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  21. I am longing to carve out some time for reading. I may just have to escape for a day to the beach. Love the pillow, and looks like a good porch project. I am guessing you put that one together. So sorry about the porch roof. Seems like when we have a project around here, one just naturally leads to another. Have fun reading. Oh, and I am reading Finding Spiritual Whitespace new by Bonnie Gray.

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  22. Oh my, sorry about the unexpected expenses! Those big ones (the porch roof!) are the worst kind of surprise. As for books, I have to agree with Rachel, The Mitford Series comes to mind immediately as a wonderful series of books, some of my favorites.

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  23. HI Jen! Mitford series gets my vote too.........has been a long time since I visited "Father Tim" and the rest of the Mitford gang, but those first books of the series are wonderful, enjoyable reads!

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  24. HI Jen......ok, got my list of all time FAVORITES, the books i have to read every so often for comforts sake; Some are non-fiction and revolve around farm life, the others are well known favorites;-
    Bean Blossom Dreams Sallyann Murphey, A Country Year by Sue Hubbell, Barefoot Summers by Faith Andrews Bedford (a former Country Living contributing writer, excellent short stories of her life), Once there was a Farm by Virginia Bell Dabney, 50 Acres and a Poodle by Jeanne Laskas, A Place called Sweet Apple by Celestine Sibley about her life renovating a log cabin in the country. The fiction books I love are The Mitford Series, Bridges of Madison County by Robert Waller, Nicolas Sparks books are enjoyable too! I have jotted down suggestions from others here and look forward to adding to my favorites list!!!

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  25. I wish I had that kind of time. My summer is spent helping my disabled Brother find housing and hopefully moving him after our Mom died and I just moved myself back from out of state. I have been packing , unpacking, moving since February and now I get to do it all for him again as he is unable to function normally. Between the packing, sorting Moms things and constant driving in traffic I am spending my summer frazzled and in constant state of stress. I get to spend a total of he entire summer in hell dealing with him and his problems To have a life of nothing but sitting reading must be wonderful. I cannot imagine not having extreme stress or nothing to do every day but that.

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  26. I really enjoyed Listening is an Act of Love. It's about the StoryCorp Project on NPR, so if you are familiar with StoryCorp you will enjoy the book. For fiction I enjoyed The Marriage Bureau for Rich People and Major Pettigrew's last stand. I've read your blog for a while now and I really think you would enjoy both of these. They have a calm, beautiful arc to the story that (in my mind at least) match the mood I pick up when reading your blog. I found both rewarding.

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  27. I just finished the violets of march. A very easy and fun read. My husband was up north (it's a Michigan thing) and I read the book in 2 days.

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  28. I am loving Elizabeth and Her German Garden, by Elizabeth Von Arnim. She is also the writer of The Enchanted April, also an excellent read set in Italy and England. And also a wonderful movie. My go to read when we go to the Oregon Coast each June is That Camden Summer, by Lavyrie Spencer. Set in New England on the sea coast, with a gutsy lady as the star. Wonderful story. Enjoy! Kit

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    1. these are wonderful books, particularly for a gardener. The Enchanted April was made into a film years ago, one of my favorite "small" movies. Just gorgeous to watch.

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  29. I loved The Language of Flowers and would highly recommend it. The best book I've red in the last 2 years was Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. I avoided it for a long time because it is not the type of book I typically enjoy...but I was absolutely fascinated by this amazing true story. Happy reading!

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  30. If you don't already know Sarah Addison Allen, I'm pretty sure you will love her and her books. Read the Just so you know section on her site and you will be charmed. I have read all her books but I strongly recommend Garden Spell and The Sugar Queen. http://www.sarahaddisonallen.com/index.html

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    1. i was about to recommend these books to jen as the perfect summer read/escape! love the small town settings, the way she works a little magical realism into her stories, the quirky characters and her charming, hypnotic writing style.

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  31. I love all the books mentioned!!! I too have decided to spend more reading time this summer~slowing the pace of life to read especially outdoors surrounded by the sound of birds and the scent of all my flower beds! great Indiana long summer days and evenings with a splendid book! Way to go, ~~~the slow life at last!!
    Enjoy! Lori

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  32. I love reading as well and try to spend as much of my free time reading as possible. I love sitting in the yard with the pool fountain on while I read. We are frequent visitors to our local library.

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  33. Jen, in the summer my go-to reads are childrens'/young adult lit. The Anne of Green Gables series, A Girl of the Limberlost (classic set in indiana), The Children of Greene Knowe series (not well known here, british series....the first book has a lot of description of the actual garden at the home of the author---so many new & classic titles to choose from!!

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  34. I just read The Whole 30 because I was tired of IBS controlling my life and dissatisfied with the treatment my GI doc prescribed. I'm now on a gluten, diary and (mostly) sugar free diet. I've also cut way back on my consumption of coffee and for the first time in decades I'm not plagued with constant abdominal pain and exhaustion. I've tossed out the medication prescribed to me that made me feel worse than ever and I'm hoping my dietary changes will prevent me from developing an autoimmune disorder that I'm genetically predisposed to on my dad's side of the family. I can truly say that the book changed my life! On the lighter side, I also read the latest in the Bridgett Jones series. I love me a humorous book as an escape from everyday stress.

    I love your new porch furniture and the pillow that I'm sure you stitched up! Darn on the roof repair!

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  35. I read over 70 novels in 2013 and my favorite by far was Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler. So so good. Also love anything by Joshilyn Jackson, Anne Rivers Siddons, and Adriana Trigiani. Also try The Apple Orchard by Susan Wiggs.

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  36. I read over 70 novels in 2013 and my favorite by far was Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler. So so good. Also love anything by Joshilyn Jackson, Anne Rivers Siddons, and Adriana Trigiani. Also try The Apple Orchard by Susan Wiggs.

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  37. Jen, I would just love to grab a good summer read (probably one of Mary Kay Andrews), park myself on your lovely new porch furniture (in my favorite color, I might add) and sip a tall glass of sweet iced tea. No words needed...just the sweet sounds of summer and the compatible silence shared between two good friends.

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  38. have you read Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns? You should. i also love the Mitford books as your first commenter posted. :) and i'm super curious to hear your opinions on the rest of the stack. :) sounds like we need to email about books too! :)

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Thank you for taking the time to say hello today! I always love to hear what you have to say.