A Field Guide to Now


September 30, 2013

That’s right—thank goodness it’s Monday! I’ve written before about how Monday is one of my favorite days of the week. It remains so, I think partly because it has so much variety. I pack a lot of simple pleasures into Mondays, and sometimes some everyday adventures. For example, today I:

Drank coffee from my favorite mug and ate a homemade coconut ginger scone while reading A Field Guide to Now.

Walked our nature trail with a friend.

Went to see Tank. He was feeling very full of himself and we had some fun playing horse games on the ground. And his lips are almost completely healed up!

Took a delightful and much-needed warm shower after sweating (and sweating) in the 90-degree heat—it’s fall, darn it—won’t someone please turn off the heat?

Folded some laundry and changed the sheets on our bed. My husband and I both love fresh sheets! Going to sleep tonight will be extra nice.

Looked for freelance writing jobs online and asked for more information about a posting for a horse health blogger!

Fertilized my orchids.

Still to come:

Reading for pleasure. I have several books started, and I’ll be picking up either No Name or Fragile—or both—later today.

Watching my Tampa Bay Rays play the Texas Rangers for the second American League wild card spot.

What simple pleasures and everyday adventures did you enjoy today?


7 Things You Can Do to Feel Happier Right Now

September 27, 2013

You probably have a pretty good idea of what gives you deep, lasting happiness and contentment. But sometimes what it takes to reach that deep happiness doesn’t make you feel…all that happy. What if you’d just like to give your mood a little boost—what can you do to feel happier right now? Here are seven simple things you can do to feel happier right now:

Make a List. List your dreams, your goals (but not your chores), your top-ten favorite movies, the books you’d take to a desert island, the five happiest moments you can remember, or the next three places you want to visit. (As I was preparing this piece, Gretchen Rubin put up this post, strictly about making lists!)   Gretchen writes, “Making lists of this sort is a terrific exercise to stimulate the imagination, heighten powers of observation, and stoke appreciation of the everyday details of life.” 

Go outside. A dose of natural light might be just the ticket to make you feel happier. If you can be near trees or water, that’s even better. Connecting with nature is a better pick-me-up than a cup of coffee, according to research published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology. So step away from that computer screen and take a walk in the park. 

Reframe “failures.”  When you’re striving for an ambitious goal, you’ll probably face some setbacks, and yes, even some failures. One way to feel happier about this is to reframe your “failure,” according to happiness researcher Robert Biswas-Diener in The World Book of Happiness. “Sometimes your most treasured goals run up against serious obstacles. Sometimes these obstacles are outside circumstances and sometimes they are related to how we have framed the goal in the first place. When this happens we tend to react with frustration and disappointment. But by learning to think flexibly about our goals and to adjust them in the face of failure, we can end up feeling happier.” Thomas Edison is probably the best known proponent of this theory—he is often quoted as saying, “I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” 

Go for the flow. According to social psychologist David G. Myers, “Happy people often are in the zone called ‘flow’, absorbed in tasks that challenge but don’t overwhelm them” (The World Book of Happiness). Take up a hobby that offers the chance for flow—gardening, sketching, crafting, baking—whatever appeals to you. You’ll find more happiness when involved in one of these activities than if you spent the same amount of time watching TV, for example.

Complete a nagging task. You know, that errand you’ve been putting off, the phone call you need to make or the household chore that you hate but you have to do. If you’re like me, unfinished business nags at the back of your mind, draining some of the happiness out of your day. Gretchen Rubin writes about this here, and about how to get yourself to do those tasks you don’t want to do here

Listen to upbeat music. Researchers at the University of Missouri found that participants’ feelings of happiness increased when they listened to upbeat music and focused on lifting their moods. Other studies have found that music not only affects mood, but changes how you perceive the world. Create a playlist with your favorite songs for times when you need a mood boost. (And for extra happiness, sing along!)

Choose to be happy. Commit to enjoying the next 24 hours no matter what. It’s amazing what a simple commitment to being happy can do for you.

How do you lift your mood?

Life on Mars

Roast Chicken and Red Wine

September 25, 2013

Photo courtesy Roger Kirby
Tracy K. Smith won the Pulitzer Prize for her book of poems, Life on Mars, from which I’ve selected this week’s poem, which presents a payday in the way many of us at some time have experienced it. The poet lives in Brooklyn, New York. [Introduction by Ted Kooser.]

The Good Life

When some people talk about money
They speak as if it were a mysterious lover
Who went out to buy milk and never
Came back, and it makes me nostalgic
For the years I lived on coffee and bread,
Hungry all the time, walking to work on payday
Like a woman journeying for water
From a village without a well, then living
One or two nights like everyone else
On roast chicken and red wine.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2011 by Tracy K. Smith from her most recent book of poems, Life on Mars, Graywolf Press, 2011. Poem reprinted by permission of Tracy K. Smith and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2013 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.


The Eyes Have It

September 23, 2013

Don't look down.
Since Tank’s lips were still too sore for a bit, when I rode him this weekend I used only my halter and lead rope. Since I had no reins with which to communicate, I had to use my eyes, seat and legs to tell Tank where to go and how fast. Notice I said “eyes”—with or without a bridle, one of the rules of riding is to look where you want to go. Sounds simple, right? It is, in theory, but it’s awfully easy to find yourself looking down at the horse, or at the ground, or even in another direction than the way you really want to go. The horse gets conflicting signals and probably doesn’t go anywhere at all.

Remarkably like life, wouldn’t you say? We need to focus our attention on the direction in which we want to travel. Don’t look at obstacles, but beyond them to our chosen destinations. Don’t look backwards, because that’s not where we’re going. Focus on what we want rather than what we don’t want, because according to Peter Jones in How to Do Everything and Be Happy, “It simply isn’t possible to not focus on something. The very act of NOT thinking about something requires your brain to conjure up images of the thing you don’t want to think about, so you can ignore it. The only way not to focus on the wrong thing is to switch your focus to something else.”

We have no control over many things that happen to us or are a part of our lives, but we can choose the direction we look, what we focus on. Are we looking forward to where we want to go? Focusing on the obstacles or the opportunities? Looking for the positive or the negative? 

What are some things you’d like to focus on?

Everyday adventures

This 'N That

September 20, 2013

My brain is shooting off every which way today—so you’re going to get that kind of blog post: a hodge podge of thoughts and information. Often times I clear my head by talking or writing things out, so here goes. (Thanks for putting up with me.)

1. My horse is a doofus. On Wednesday, when I went to ride Tank, I found that his lips were stiff and swollen. His tongue, gums and the roof of his mouth were unaffected. None of us had ever seen anything like it, and as we pondered what could have caused such an affliction (Ant bites? An insect sting? Allergic reaction to something he ate?), it occurred to me that the horses have a new salt and mineral block in their paddock—could he have been a bit overenthusiastic in his consumption? We don’t know for sure, but it seems the most likely explanation.  We’ll be keeping an eye on him and on the other horses to see if any of them develop the same problem. He’s eating normally and doesn’t seem distressed by it, so I’m not worried—only puzzled because he’s never done that before.

2. It’s Mary Stewart Reading Week until the 22nd (sorry for the late notice). I’m reading Nine Coaches Waiting, a favorite of mine. I’ve mentioned Mary Stewart in a number of posts, most notably this one. I love her romantic suspense novels and just found out that Lady Stewart recently celebrated her 97th birthday! (She shares a birthday with my mom—cool!) If you’re looking for a lighthearted, interesting read, I recommend one of her books. This unofficial fan site has more information about her, and lots of fun extras such as the quiz “Which Mary Stewart novel is right for you?” and a map showing the settings of her books.

3. How did it get to be Sept. 20? It seems like just yesterday that it was the first of September and now we’re nearly through the month. I’m not complaining—that means that October with its cooler weather is quickly approaching. I can’t believe the year is three-quarters of the way done. I don’t feel like I’ve accomplished much this year. Better get a move on!

4. Pumpkin is taking over the world. Pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin pie milkshakes, pumpkin ravioli, pumpkin waffles, even pumpkin dog biscuits. (I’m going to make these for Scout—I even bought a dog biscuit-shaped cookie cutter!)

5. I’ve just discovered Brenda Lee Johnson, Kyra Sedgwick’s character in The Closer after checking out the series from the library. I love her toughness, barely disguised by a southern drawl, and how she refuses to be intimidated by the many people who attempt to intimidate her. I’ve found that channeling Brenda helps me stiffen my spine when dealing with people trying to trample on me. Who says TV is a waste of time?

Wow—I feel better. Now it’s your turn: what’s on your mind today?


What Stops You

September 18, 2013

“Failure seldom stops you. What stops you is the fear of failure.”
—Jack Lemmon

Comfort zones

Why You Should Do Things Badly

September 16, 2013

When I started writing this post, I had just gotten back from riding my bike for the first time in…years. My kind husband recently cleaned out the garage, brought my bike down from the ceiling where it had been suspended, pumped up my flat tire, lubed the chain and adjusted the seat so it’s just right. I finally wheeled it out onto the nature trail, and while I hadn’t exactly forgotten how to ride a bike, let’s just say that I didn’t look very graceful doing it. There was some irrational weaving and one or two interesting experiments with gears and braking, but soon I was pedaling happily down the trail. I wasn’t very skilled, but at least I didn’t hit a tree.

The Great Bike Ride was, I hope, the first of many rides, each one getting a little smoother. I admit that on this first ride, I felt kind of silly. I *should* be able to ride a bike, right? I learned long (long) ago. But right now, I do it kind of badly. And that’s OK. Doing things badly is important, and you should be doing things badly, too. Want to know why?

If you never try anything you’re not already good at, you’ll never learn anything new.

Maybe you’d like to learn to sketch, try salsa dancing, or bake the perfect pie. If you’ve never tried it before, it’s likely that you won’t be good. It’s the rare person who is good at something the very first time he/she tries it (and you have my permission to hate those people). If you never step outside your comfort zone and risk doing things badly, you’ll never know if you even like to samba or how creative your sketches can be. (And if your goal is the perfect pie, please call me—I’m willing to taste your experiments.)

Once you’ve tried something for the first time and you decide you like it, guess what: you might still do it badly for awhile. Many, many worthwhile and satisfying things take time to master. The point is, if you’re not willing to do something badly, at least for a little while, you’ll never know just how good you can be.

For me, horseback riding has been a prime example of doing things badly. I recently saw a video of my first ride on Tank, and frankly I was appalled (and I felt sorry for Tank). In the years I’ve had him, I’ve taken many riding lessons and spent hours practicing, and I know I’m a much better rider than I was then. Thankfully, I didn’t give up when I found that good riding is much harder than it appears.

When you try your new things (and I write this to myself as much as to you), be patient and don’t be embarrassed or self-conscious about doing things badly. Realize you’re learning and expanding your horizons. Be proud of your badness for badness, eventually, leads to goodness.

What would you like to do badly?

Still practicing... (Photo by Holly Bryan)


A Jane Austen Project

September 13, 2013

When I hear that someone has never read Jane Austen, I somehow manage not to drag him or her to the library or bookstore and load them up with Miss Austen’s body of work. She’s one of my favorite authors, and I’ve read all her novels, some of them several times. Pride and Prejudice is my favorite (possibly because of the marvelous British mini-series with Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy and Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennett), with Emma a close second.

In addition to her six novels, the Austen fan can find multiple movies made from her books, as well as sequels, spoofs and take-offs, including the intriguingly-titled, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and the movies Clueless (Emma) and Bridget Jones’s Diary (Pride and Prejudice).

I bring this up now because there’s a slew of new books about Miss Austen and her work, this flurry of interest likely related to this year’s 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride & Prejudice. I spent most of August happily engrossed in my own little Jane Austen project.

Why has her work remained so popular when on the surface it appears that the stories are all about young women finding love and getting married? I already knew I enjoyed her sly wit, language usage, and characterization. I learned to respect her even more after reading the books below, each of which has its own take on why she remains popular. So without further ado, if you want to begin an excursion into Austenland, here are some books to make your trip more enjoyable:

If you’re interested in Miss Austen herself, the Penguin Lives biography, Jane Austen, by Carol Shields is a great place to start. It’s an easy-to-read, compact (185 pages) overview of her life. An excerpt:

“The young often read Austen’s novels as love stories. Later, more knowing readers respond to their intricate structures, their narrative drive, their quiet insistence that we keep turning over the page even though we know the ending, which is invariably one of reconciliation and a projection of future happiness in the form of marriage….Marriage reached beyond its moment of rhetoric and gestured, eloquently and also innocently, toward the only pledge a young woman was capable of giving. She had one chance in her life to say ‘I do,’ and these words rhyme psychologically with the phrase: I am, I exist.”

One of the interesting points Shields brought out was that Miss Austen wrote during a time that the novel form was still in its infancy.  “Her novels were conceived and composed in isolation. She invented their characters, their scenes and scenery, and their moral framework. The novelistic architecture may have been borrowed from the eighteenth-century novelists, but she made it new, clean, and rational, just as though she’d taken a broom to the old fussiness of plot and action. She did all this alone.”

The Bedside, Bathtub & Armchair Companion to Jane Austen, by Carol Adams, Douglas Buchanan and Kelly Gesch. I enjoyed dipping into this lighthearted book. Austen newcomers can learn a little bit about the author and her novels, and dedicated Janeites can delve deeper or test their knowledge of all things Austen.

One of the features in the Armchair Companion is an interview with Joan Klingel Ray, author of Jane Austen for Dummies. When asked about the current fascination with Austen, part of her reply made sense to me: “Austen is unique in that while she is a classic novelist who is studied by academics and taught in universities, she also appeals to what we might call the ‘common reader’—the ordinary person who picks up her novels simply for the pleasure of reading them.”

Ray encourages new readers not to see the films or TV versions of Austen’s work before reading the novels, and suggests they be read in the following order: Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, Emma, Northanger Abbey, Mansfield Park, and Sense and Sensibility. “I think this order eases the reader into Austen’s language and syntax…. Also I think this order draws readers into Austen’s canon by the nature of the ‘stories.’ Readers should also be aware that Austen is a satirist and uses irony, readers need to be able to hear the narrator’s voice for what it is.”

All Roads Lead to Austen, by Amy Elizabeth Smith. Smith spent a year traveling through Latin America, organizing and meeting with small groups to discuss Jane Austen’s books. Smith sums up her year this way: “I hadn’t realized how my trip would really be a road test of values and beliefs I thought I had already absorbed from Austen: Don’t judge too hastily; not everyone wants the same things out of life; people’s circumstances color how they respond to everything; we’re not all speaking the same language, even when we’re speaking the same language.”

A Jane Austen Education, by William Deresiewicz. I loved Deresiewicz’s deeply thoughtful, honest, and interesting account of the life lessons he received from studying each one of Jane Austen’s novels. For example, he learned the importance of everyday things from Emma: “Austen, I realized, had not been writing about everyday things because she couldn’t think of anything else to talk about. She had been writing about them because she wanted to show how important they really are. All that trivia hadn’t been making time until she got to the point. It was the point. Austen wasn’t silly and superficial; she was much, much smarter—and much wiser—than I ever could have imagined.”

Deresiewicz continued later in the chapter, “Austen taught me a new kind of moral seriousness—taught me what moral seriousness really means. It means taking responsibility for the little world, not the big one. It means taking responsibility for yourself.”

After finishing these books, I’ve barely scratched the surface. The list of additional Jane Austen-related books I haven’t been able to get my hands on yet, includes:

Celebrating Pride & Prejudice: 200 Years of Pride and Prejudice, Susannah Fullerton. From Amazon: Austen scholar Fullerton “…delves into what makes Pride and Prejudice such a groundbreaking masterpiece, including the story behind its creation (the first version may have been an epistolary novel written when Austen was only twenty), its reception upon publication, and its tremendous legacy….”

The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things, Paula Byrne.  Byrne looks at the small things, such as a shawl, a notebook and a card of lace, which held significance in Jane Austen’s life, using them to paint a fuller portrait of the author.

Jane Austen’s England, Roy and Lesley Adkins. Written by husband-and-wife historians, this book “explores the customs and culture of the real England” of Jane Austen’s everyday life.   

Among the Janeites: A Journey Through the World of Jane Austen Fandom, Deborah Yaffe. Instead of Austen herself, Yaffe takes a look at Austen’s obsessed and devoted fans. According to Amazon, Among the Janeites is “Part chronicle of a vibrant literary community, part memoir of a lifelong love…a funny, touching meditation on the nature of fandom.” 

In the Garden With Jane, Kim Wilson. Jane Austen loved a garden, and this book takes us to the types of gardens she would have known, including the one that still exists at Jane Austen’s House Museum in Chawton, England. The book is full of photos, drawings, social history and novel excerpts.  

The List Lover’s Guide to Jane Austen, Joan Strasbaugh. What books did Jane Austen have in her library? Who were her royal ancestors? A compact reference for Austen lovers.

Jane Austen Game Theorist, Michael Suk-Young Chwe. One of the more intriguing new releases, “Jane Austen, Game Theorist shows how this beloved writer theorized choice and preferences, prized strategic thinking, argued that jointly strategizing with a partner is the surest foundation for intimacy, and analyzed why superiors are often strategically clueless about inferiors,” according to Amazon.com.  

A Truth Universally Acknowledged: 33 Great Writers on Why We Read Jane Austen, edited by Susannah Carson. Essayists include Eudora Welty, Anna Quindlin, Amy Bloom, Virginia Woolf, Harold Bloom, and many others, and topics include everything from “insights into the timelessness of her moral truths” to how her writing might have changed if she had lived another 20 years. There’s even a piece by Amy Heckerling about how she turned the characters of Emma into 1990s-era Beverly Hills residents in the movie Clueless.

I haven’t read Pride & Prejudice  recently, and I think maybe it’s time to have a leisurely reread of all Miss Austen’s work, preferably with a cup of tea and a scone in hand. If you’re an Austen fan, which of her books is your favorite? Which book would you suggest that an Austen newbie read first? And just for fun, which Jane Austen heroine are you? Take the quiz here. (I am Elinor Dashwood.) 

Note: For more information on Jane Austen and her work, visit:


Celebrating Life*

September 11, 2013

Writing poetry, reading poetry, we are invited to join with others in celebrating life, even the ordinary, daily pleasures. Here the Seattle poet and physician, Peter Pereira, offer us a simple meal. [Introduction by Ted Kooser.]

A Pot of Red Lentils 

simmers on the kitchen stove.
All afternoon dense kernels
surrender to the fertile
juices, their tender bellies
swelling with delight.

In the yard we plant
rhubarb, cauliflower, and artichokes,
cupping wet earth over tubers,
our labor the germ
of later sustenance and renewal.

Across the field the sound of a baby crying
as we carry in the last carrots,
whorls of butter lettuce,
a basket of red potatoes.

I want to remember us this way—
late September sun streaming through
the window, bread loaves and golden
bunches of grapes on the table,
spoonfuls of hot soup rising
to our lips, filling us
with what endures.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Reprinted from Saying the World, 2003, by permission of Copper Canyon Press. Copyright © 2003 by Peter Pereira. Introduction copyright © 2013 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. 

*I think there’s no better way to move ahead in life than to appreciate the simplest of daily pleasures. On the anniversary of 9/11, I’m grateful for these continued simple pleasures and I wish for you a life full of celebrations of all kinds.

Baby steps

September Is the New January

September 09, 2013

Photo courtesy Candace Penney

Is it just me, or does September feel like a new beginning? Most of my life I’ve treated September the way most people treat January: as a new year. Even before I had a child going back to school or lived in Florida where the promise of the occasional cooler, drier day bumps up my energy, I reevaluated my life in the fall. My birthday is in September, so I think that adds to the “new start” feeling since like most of us I become more introspective around birthdays.

I’ve thought about starting my own Happiness Project, like Gretchen Rubin has written about in the book of the same name, and its follow-up Happier at Home (where the title of this blog post came from). I even began listing areas I’d like to focus on, but decided I’m not ready to attack things I want to change or enhance in quite that fashion. Planning all those months in advance felt too overwhelming to me. Instead, I decided to take baby steps and do some very simple things to get my new year off to a good start:

First, I’m keeping a time log this week to see where I’m spending my time. (I’m using this one.) From there, I hope to come up with a flexible schedule so I can get the important things done while still having time to play.

My weight has become a concern again, so I’m tweaking my eating and fitness routines to combat those creeping pounds.

I’m making plans for fun by figuring out the details of our postponed anniversary trip and scheduling some upcoming Field Trip Fridays.

I’m purging—the freezer, my closet, my file cabinet. I’m always battling stuff!

Even though it’s still blazingly hot here and it doesn’t feel like fall yet, I’m starting to feel more energetic, more likely to make some changes and explore new avenues. I’m ready to savor simple pleasures and take part in everyday adventures. Even though the calendar says September and not January, I’m ready for a new year!

Do you make any special plans in September? Are there any other times of year you evaluate life, set goals or take up challenges?


The Return of Link Love

September 06, 2013

When I’m supposed to be writing/cleaning/exercising/being a productive human being, I am often playing on the internet. I have no excuse, other than I usually start out doing legitimate research or tending to my blog, and *somehow* find myself two hours later, fingers cramping, legs asleep and eyeballs begging for mercy, staring at a blog post with a name like “10 Ways to Decorate Your Home Using Only Pine Cones and Bubble Wrap,” wondering how I came to waste my life in this manner, and if it’s possible to burn a crayon for 30 minutes in an emergency (the answer, according to the Pintester: it will burn, but not for 30 minutes—whether it’s an emergency or not).

Even though I spend far too much time fooling around, I do often find some pretty cool stuff, and that stuff I herewith share with you in the fourth installment of Link Love. Yes, friends, I do it all for you.

You’ve probably heard of The Bloggess—Jenny Lawson, author of Let’s Pretend This Never Happened. Her blog is laugh-out-loud funny, if you’re not offended by a quirky sense of humor and strong language. This post, “Rules for Life,” is one of my favorites. Read the comments that follow if you have the time—they’re pretty awesome.

If you want to have more fun, be more childlike: “Remember. Fun is an attitude. Fun is an option. Fun is a decision.”

I’m a big fan of Gretchen Rubin’s books The Happiness Project and Happier at Home, and I regularly read her blog. This post discusses some of the contradictions of happiness.

This article lists patterns of negative thinking that harm our happiness. I especially like number three and number 10.

Did you know there’s an entire website devoted to disapproving rabbits?  Check out Bruce “Disapproval in front, party in back.”

Laura Vanderkam’s “Journey Through the Checkout Racks” compares women’s magazines then and now, for a snapshot of how women’s lives in America have changed.

And finally, I just love these two. Watching this video makes my day every time.

You’re welcome.

Eric Hoffer

Feeling Hurried

September 04, 2013

“The feeling of being hurried is not usually the result of living a full life and having no time. It is on the contrary born of a vague fear that we are wasting our life. When we do not do the one thing we ought to do, we have no time for anything else.”
—Eric Hoffer

Armchair travel

Where I Went This Summer (Reader’s Edition)

September 02, 2013

I used Grammarly to grammar check this post because it never hurts to have another set of eyes proofread your work, even if they’re automated!*

Well, it’s Labor Day today in the U.S., and that marks the unofficial end to summer. I’m sad to say that I didn’t literally get to go on vacation. So far in 2013, my travel has been limited to family visits. I haven’t explored any place new or exciting…so it’s a good thing my reading has taken me all over the world! While my passport languishes and my suitcases gather dust, here are a few places my bookshelves and library card have taken me:

The island of Crete, courtesy of Mary Stewart’s The Moon-Spinners.

Roqueville, on the Cote d’Azur, via Spinsters in Jeopardy (Ngaio Marsh).

Toronto, Ontario and Prince Edward Island, because of L. M. Montgomery’s published journals (I read the third volume of The Selected Journals of L.M. Montgomery—it was the only one my library had). Montgomery was the author of the Anne of Green Gables series, and had already created in me a burning desire to visit Prince Edward Island someday.

Eudora Welty’s Mississippi, where I attended a Delta Wedding.

Kishinev (now called Chisinau), Moldavia via the letters in From Newbury With Love (incredibly touching book and one of my favorite reads all year).

Guatemala, Mexico, Ecuador, Chile, Paraguay and Argentina, with Amy Elizabeth Smith’s All Roads Lead to Austen. (More about this book in an upcoming post.)

France and England, where I swashbuckled all over the place with The Three Musketeers (Alexandre Dumas).

I actually spent quite a lot of time in the United Kingdom this year—making stops in Crampton Hodnet (in the book of the same name by Barbara Pym), Edgecomb St. Mary (Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand), Newbury (see above), London and Cornwall (Jacqueline Winspear’s Messenger of Truth), among other fictional and real destinations.

So you see, when time and/or finances don’t permit me to explore the world firsthand, I turn to books to satisfy my craving for travel. And now, as I finish this post, I’ll be returning to rural Appalachia with Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behavior.

Where has your reading taken you this summer?

*This post sponsored by Grammarly, an online grammar checker and proofreading system.