Bacon on the Bookshelf

Savory picks for the free range reader

Whiskers on Kittens

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Staying sane in the time of corona has gotten easier in some ways and harder in others. I find myself Really Impatient in the home stretch. 

ML Davis stops in at Bacon today with some good energy and reading recommendations, including a terrific 25 cent purchase. I’m in a better mood already!

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Thank you for spending some time in the Bacon Neighborhood today, ML! 

What is your state of mind?

Primarily positive with consistent gratitude. My mother-in-law told me years ago that optimism is a learned trait. She is right. And resting in the knowledge that God’s plan is bigger and better than any of our plans. 

Do you feel more dread or hope heading into January and February?

January has always been my least favorite month. I call it ‘post-party partum’ when all the festivities are over and the guests have gone home. This year is clearly different but the spirit is the same. We have been known to host ‘January’s Over’ parties just to have something to look forward to. Perhaps a ‘We got the vaccine’ party later this year?

What aggravates you the most right now?

Random acts of rudeness

What’s your best coping strategy right now?

Just the basics: Working out, brain games, pets, books, wine and sugar. I’m reading the Bible cover to cover because I decided it was time to do so. I just made it to Jeremiah, so I’m celebrating the milestone.

What brings you the most joy? Or contentment…

A random sampling, here goes: A glorious sunset and the magical twilight of color that follows, chocolate chunk cookies from almost anywhere but especially Baked on 8th, my husband’s good attitude about most everything, our daughters thriving in their lives and careers, discovering a book that I love, great art, closing a deal and celebrating 5 years as a realtor with Worth Properties, a quarantine cat named Julie adopted from one of my clients who couldn’t keep her, Leontyne Price singing ‘Ave Maria’, a fresh box of Junior Mints, remembering the first time I saw Cheekwood in 1999, pink tulips and peonies, my husband bringing home veggies burgers from J. Alexanders, the acoustic version of ‘The Rain Song’ by Robert Plant and Jimmy Page, people who get me, 30a, old episodes of Seinfeld, friendly neighbors, running the Blvd and not getting hit, my niece in addiction recovery, Something Special Tex Mex wraps, the covid vaccine, the scent of good candles not trying to smell like food… and of course, whiskers on kittens. 

Julie, the Quarantine Cat

What are you reading right now?

A Painted House by John Grisham. My daughter bought it at McKays for 25 cents, read it and recommended it to me. I hadn’t read Grisham in decades but the timing was good, and I completely adore it. Set in the 50’s in rural farmland Arkansas and inspired by Grisham’s own childhood, the star is a sweet 7-year-old boy who encounters more than his share of drama that he must keep to himself. No more details or it will be spoiled for prospective readers. I have loved it so much for its storyline and down-home values that I recommended it to my parents who favor clean material. My father drove to the bookstore that day and bought it to read aloud to my memory-challenged mother. Pro tip for audiobook fans: It is an audio delight! I could not resist loading it up on Audible to hear the characters come to life. It is a riot to hear the dialects spoken by the narrator for each character – So accurate! My own grandparents and all their young ‘uns came up in small towns and rural farmlands of North Carolina, so I reckon I’m a fair judge of this here talk. 

What was the best book (or best books) you read in 2020?

Ken Follett’s The Evening and the Morning. The prequel to Pillars of the Earth. Outstanding as expected. Follett followers are sure to be pleased.

Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman. I knew absolutely nothing about this book (or film) other than Armie Hammer had something to do with it, and me being impetuous and impulsive, just dove right in. Read some reviews or the back cover? Why waste time! I went head first into a blank canvas. The exquisite prose captivated me from page one soon revealing a gay coming of age love story set in the Italian countryside. So very enchanting from beginning to end. 

The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd. Another that I picked without knowledge of the subject or reading any reviews. Surprise me, Sue Monk Kidd. And she certainly did. I cannot describe it as beautifully as it is. It’s about Ana, the wife of Jesus. I realize that concept may offend some readers, but I pressed on out of curiosity honed by the gorgeous writing talent of Ms. Kidd. 

Honorable Mention: The first third of Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins, which details overcoming childhood adversity and his stumbling blocks to finding success in the military. But then it turns into a psycho physical training smackdown. While the memoir portion of the book was engaging and the author clearly presents a tremendous military success story, his great lengths of effort toward mental toughness and physical accomplishment left me thinking that the author is untethered, ceaselessly searching for something that cannot be found in brutalizing himself to run 100 miles on broken ankles or complete 4200 pull ups in 24 hours. Layers of skin peeled off his palms, and he kept going!  However, if I had a son or daughter in or considering the military, I would definitely suggest they read it because the motivation and military respect it exemplifies is impressive. I found the book after reading Living with a SEAL: 31 Days of Training with the Toughest Man on the Planet and was driven to get the backstory on David Goggins.

From ‘Bacon,’ The Vanishing Half, Becoming Edward, Before We Were Yours.

What is a most memorable book from years past?

Hands down, A Piece of Cake by Cupcake Brown. A memoir about survival of deplorable circumstances in the foster system of California and subsequent homelessness, addiction and prostitution. The author ultimately becomes an attorney who advocates for children’s rights. Unforgettable. This book was the impetus for my service with CASA Nashville (Court Appointed Special Advocates for children navigating the foster system due to abuse, neglect and/or adverse childhood experiences) as a volunteer advocate and board member. Disclaimer: The language is deplorable at times with passages extremely hard to take.  

What will you read next?

How do you decide what to read next? I will likely read more under-the-radar Grisham novels hoping to discover more hidden gems like The Painted House. And I rely on ‘Bacon’ to give me ideas on what’s next! Clearly I fly by the seat of my pants on selecting books, but I am confident there are plenty of good ones in my future. 

What are you watching/listening to? Please recommend any TV series or podcasts you’ve especially enjoyed lately!

Like many, Schitt’s Creek! Also Travels with My Father, Good Girls, Unorthodox, Atypical, Younger, The Kominsky Method, Dirty John (a creepy stalking saga, but Connie Britton and Julia Garner from Ozark kept me committed), The Ranch, and rewatching one of my all time favorites, Friday Night Lights.

How has life in the time of corona changed you – if at all?

Other than the deficit of in-person socializing, the biggest daily change has been solitary fitness which has translated into more walking, running, and cycling outdoors plus strength training with my new favorite online fitness instructor ‘Healthy Fit with Ty’. She has dozens of FB videos with excellent workouts and no chat. Otherwise work has been the same since people are still moving to our resilient city and selling homes in Middle Tennessee. 

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19 Comments

  1. Well, ML brings me great JOY, no doubt! January is off to a great start. Thank you to two people –ML and Jennifer–who make my 2021 a better year already.

    • You are a treasure to me, Louise, and I am thankful that I still get to see you in the ‘hood during this challenging season. I look forward to seeing what unfolds for your family in 2021! Thank you for your kind words on my Bacon post 🙂

  2. I loved hearing from you, ML – and thank you for giving a warm, cozy, loving home to the fabulous Julie!

    • Julie, the Quarantine Cat, said to tell you hi, Mary! She is thriving in her new home with us, maybe too much as she is looking a bit thick in the middle. That Meow Mix is irresistible, right? I miss seeing you on Sundays and look forward to seating across from your pew down the road…

  3. ML is the consummate optimist! It is fascinating to learn some of her secrets and views, especially the point about learning optimism. Her recommendations highlight so many learning opportunities too. Great read, ML and Jennifer!

  4. Thank you Jennifer and ML for this lovely start to the day! ML, I miss being your neighbor!

    • Likewise, I STILL miss having you on our street, Carolyn ~ Your neighbors are lucky to have the Taylor family in their midst! All the best in 2021!

  5. Not being a Grisham fan, I was totally surprised at how much I enjoyed The Painted House, and the two Camino Island books are fun too because the main character is an eccentric owner of a bookstore. Good escape fiction at a time when we need another world to live in, for a while!

  6. Thanks ML and Jennifer for the big dose of encouragement and hope! I will take to heart the words from your mother-in-law ML. Priceless!

  7. Thank you, ML! Love your optimism and enthusiasm! Definitely going to try some of your recommendations.

  8. to define ML, see Webster’s…”exuberant” and “genuine”. loved hearing from you today. please pop up lore often!

    • MJ! This warms my heart, you clever girl! You are one of my favorite people in Nashville, and I would like a big dose of you post-covid, ok?

  9. Beautiful post, ML! You make me want to read A Piece of Cake next–I could use some wisdom, hope and redemption! And if we must have pain to get there, which might be necessary, I’ll accept it with your perspective and good humor. I really like your idea of a January’s over party. Jan 31 could use an exciting wrinkle.

    • Hi, Beth! Thank you for your very kind words about my Bacon post ~ They mean a double dose coming from you! All the best to you and your sweet family in 2021!

  10. Hi, Beth! Thank you for your very kind words about my Bacon post ~ They mean a double dose coming from you! All the best to you and your sweet family in 2021!

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