Some Summer Reading!

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It was our twentieth wedding anniversary on July 19. That's the china anniversary, so we were planning to eat Chinese food on our wedding china but instead had our standby anniversary dinner, Rozale Lasagna, named after our first apartment together back in Missoula, Montana, where we lived when that first picture of us was taken, back in 1994 or '95. That picture was taken on Flathead Lake and I can't imagine who took it; I think it might have been a timer selfie taken with my point-and-shoot. We started dating in 1992, but we actually met in . . . 1989? Almost thirty years ago. We were a very unlikely couple and started dating on a whim, literally, after a chance road trip together going to visit some other friends from college. Somewhere in the cornfields between River Forest and Peoria, Illinois, we fell in love in the car and have been together ever since. Being married to Andy Paulson is one of the great miracles of my life and I wake up every morning and still can't believe I ever got this lucky.

Actually, on our actual anniversary we went on a boat ride, above, and wound up having dinner downtown at the world's most unlikely place, Morton's Steak House. Morton's Steak House, in case you don't know, as I didn't, is one of those places that has a super-dark interior with big super-dark leathery chairs and no windows and $59 steaks, where people with expense accounts go when they're traveling for business and trying to schmooze some account rep (maybe). It was, however, blissfully air-conditioned. We wound up there because, after our two-hour boat ride down the river, we were headed over to Piazza Italia in the Pearl (a district that should have been about five or ten minutes away from the boat place) but got stuck in the biggest downtown traffic jam in the world. We were averaging about fifty feet every five or ten minutes. Then we heard the words that strike fear in the heart of every parent sitting in a traffic jam: "Mommy, I need to go potty." Cue me, pulling over (tires squealing . . . just kidding) and tossing the keys to the valet at Morton's Steak House, right in front of which we happened to be most conveniently (or not, stay tuned) sitting, unmoving, in traffic. Into the empty restaurant (it was 5:00 p.m.) and very nice bathroom we went, looking like a bunch of hippies who just tumbled off a boat ride. I won't go into details about the food but will just say that I could have bought her about fifty pairs of new undies for what that (totally overpriced and burnt, ahem) meal cost. But it was an absurd, sweet, really fun and memorable evening, and lord how I love these two. Andy said, "Let's come back in another twenty years but then go somewhere else instead." Ha!

Thank you EVER, EVER, EVER so much for all of the book recommendations. I am so excited about these, and I haven't heard of almost all of them. Amelia wound up picking out my next book, Rosamunde Pilcher's Coming Home, because she liked the cover and color of the spine (pink) and wanted to leave the library, stat. I've never read a Rosamunde Pilcher book before, I don't think, but this one turns out to be perfect for me right now because I just found out through Ancestry DNA that I am actually part English. This is completely shocking and I will tell you more about it later as soon as I figure out a few more things. Sadly, I've also damaged my library book by throwing it into my pool basket and then having everyone's wet towels thrown on top of it so I'm guessing I'll be buying that? I don't think I've ever damaged a library book before so I'm not sure what happens when you do. I feel really bad. I want to finish it quickly so that I can get to some of these on the list you put together. Thank you to everyone who contributed to this list, and I hope you enjoy these!

Standard Deviation by Katherine Heiny
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towle
News of the World by Paulette Jiles
The Nightengale Nurses by Donna Douglas
Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center
The Time in Between by Maria Duenas
Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
Saints for All Occasions by J. Courtney Sullivan
The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy
Dracula by Bram Stoker
Uprooted by Naomi Novik
The Bear and the Nightengale by Katherine Arden
Goodnight from London by Jennifer Robson
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson
The Dressmaker by Rosalie Ham
The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom
The Rook by Daniel O'Malley
The Sex Lives of Cannibals by J. Maarten Troost
Old Man's War by John Scalzi
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer
Ross Poldark by Winston Graham
The Woolgrower's Companion by Joy Rhoades
The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson
The Chilbury Ladies Choir by Jennifer Ryan
Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
In the Castle of the Flynns by Michael Raleigh
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Song of the Lark by Willa Cather
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
Victoria: The Queen by Julia Baird
My Cousin Rachel by Daphne DuMaurier
Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld
A Window Opens by Elisabeth Egan
Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple
Goodnight June by Sarah Jio
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
Carrying Albert Home by Homer Hickam
The Scarlet Sisters by Helen Batten
The House at the Edge of Night by Catherine Banner
The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry
The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery
Into the Water by Paula Hawkins
The Light of the World by Elizabeth Alexander
In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware
Burntown by Jennifer McMahon
The Dry by Jane Harper
The Good Daughters by Joyce Maynard
A House Among the Trees by Julia Glass
The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson
The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain
Change Agent by Daniel Suarez
Then She Found Me by Elinor Lipman
The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club by Gil McNeil
The Secret Life of Violet Grant by Beatriz Williams
The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
Party Girls Die in Pearls by Plum Sykes
Me Before You by JoJo Moyes
The People at Number 9 by Felicity Everett
The Second Mrs. Hockaday by Susan Rivers
Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading by Maureen Corrigan
Princess Elizabeth's Spy by Susan Elia Macneal
The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald
The Midnight Rose by Lucinda Riley
Camino Island by John Grisham
Loving Frank by Nancy Horan
The Egg and I by Betty MacDonald
The Trespasser by Tana French
The City Baker's Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller
The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street by Susan Jane Gilman
The Mothers by Brit Bennett
Raven Black by Ann Cleeves
The Sparrow Sisters by Ellen Herrick
The Great Kitchens of the Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal

Also, thank you to everyone who reminded me that the tree book I was talking about was called Trees of Greater Portland. I still have made zero progress on my to-do list re: railings and replanting, but I'm ever hopeful. ;)

131 comments

Congratulations on your anniversary! I have to admit that "Coming Home" is one of my favorite books. I checked it out from the library and liked it so much I bought myself a copy. Enjoy the read and the rest of your summer.

A really great list! So many wonderful books--my favorites right now are Gentleman in Moscow and Summer before the War (I felt like I was reading a Merchant Ivory film). Sadly, you will have to pay for the library book. Although sometimes they will let you buy a replacement copy and bring it in, which may be cheaper. Check with them first. Congratulations on 29 years! I'm so glad you two are happy.

Kristen from MA says: July 29, 2017 at 03:37 PM

Happy Anniversary! đŸŸ That first picture of you is so sweet, but the 2nd one is even better. I know you agree. 😉

Looks to me like YOU were the one wearing the plaid shirts back then! Congrats!

*H*A*P*P*Y* * *A*N*N*I*V*E*R*S*A*R*Y*!*!* to you both! I've never been to Morton's Steakhouse and will promptly cross it off of my bucket list. The best steak in town is out in Fairview, OR - in a strip mall - called Bumpers Grill & Bar. You must try the filet mignon which lays lovingly upon a glistening pool of Bordelaise sauce. I read the Miniaturist and it was really amazing. I have read almost all of Rosamunde Pilcher's books and adored each and every one.. especially The Shell Seekers. Enjoy the rest of the Summer.. I'm loving it. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

I LOVED The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society. I hope you do.

When I checked out The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend, the librarian said "If you love books, you'll enjoy this." So, I bet you'll like that one too.

Best belated anniversary wishes. Our 54th was the 20th and I grew up in Chicago. I married as a teenager and have never been back - maybe some day. Tried once but no rooms to be had due to a large convention.

Happy anniversary! Ours is Monday...18 years. It seems to,have passed in the blink of an eye. As for your damaged library book...don't purchase a replacement...take the damaged one back to the library and let them know what happened. They will let you know what the charge is to replace it. My son destroyed a book when he was little so I bought a replacement but the library wouldn't take it. They have to buy all their books centrally so I ended up paying for that book twice.

I loved all the Laurie King series. If you need a rest from stress and strife, try some of the old authors--Margery Allingham (The Best!), or Rex Stout. I also recommend Amy Tan. Happy 20th Anniversary...and many more!

Road trips! When my husband and I had just started dating we went on a 2 week road trip to visit our friends and go to a couple of weddings of friends of ours getting married (they started young). That we didn't kill each other by the end of it was an indication it was meant to be and here we are almost 20 years later, still going strong.

Happy anniversary to you and Andy!!! What a lovely story. I love hearing about how people met.

Outlander!!!! Put that one at the top of your list! ;)

Kim Lawonn says: July 29, 2017 at 07:17 PM

July 19 is a great day. It is also my wedding anniversary. We were married in 1980! Love the picture of younger your and current. Aren't they fun? Good luck on that reading list. There are a few on there of some I would have recommended.

Ohhhhh...I love Rosamunde Pilcher. Happy anniversary!

I've read everything by Rosamunde Pilcher since January and they are all wonderful. Coming Home is at the top!

It's me again! Everything by Beatriz Williams is wonderful too. With her books please read them in order!

Happy Anniversary. I love that you started off as an unlikely couple and then fell in love on a road trip. There's got to be a movie script in that :) I enjoy all your photos and especially the ones of you guys, and the one of the plastic bits and pieces, evidence of a wonderful imagination. It reminds me of the little people i would find abseiling (tied onto) the apricot tree or the clothes line or in holes in the garden when my boys were small. Thanks heaps to you and your commenters for the list of books. I'm already bookmarking titles.

How wonderful that you have been together so many years and are still feeling lucky about it. Very rare and special--treasure it. Glad to hear that the steaks aren't worth the money--I will no longer feel deprived for not having gone there. Your reading list is so impressive, I'm printing it out. I enjoyed the Gentlemen in Moscow. You must read the Shell Seekers by Pilchner if you haven't read her books. I've enjoyed the books by Alan Bradley and Laurie L. King both, but recommend you try to start with the first in the series of each. They'll still be enjoyable out of order, but a bit of the plot won't be a secret otherwise. The Olive Kitteredge one was interesting, funny and quite depressing to me, but that's likely my age showing. I also enjoy the books by Louise Penny, which you should also try to read in order, and books by Jodi Picoult (Great Small Things & Leaving Time come to mind, now). I'm in a hurry so I hope this makes sense. Thanks so much for sharing your reading list!

Kathy Stewart says: July 29, 2017 at 10:00 PM

Happy anniversary! Since you are English you must read anything by Barbara Pym. I knew I would marry my husband on a spontaneous road trip to Baja in 1983. We married in 1984, 2 medical careers, 2 children now 25 and 30'. Now married for 33+years and excelling at the life of the retired

Happy anniversary, You are a beautifull couple with a lovely daugher! I do like your pictures, they are taken with love.
And Rosamunde Pilcher is summerreading, I have all her books and every summer I re- read one of them..

Marguerite says: July 29, 2017 at 11:04 PM

Happy Anniversary!! Both photos are wonderful and you are so incredibly sweet to share them with us. I don't post often, but I have to tell you -- your wonderful blog is keeping me sane through the nightmare of our current political situation. I won't disturb the blissful mood here with any of that -- suffice it to say that the way you gift us with these precious vignettes of your day to day lives is genuinely and deeply appreciated. I come here as a tonic and am never, ever let down. Thank you. Be well. Stay you. Congratulations on your amazing, ever-blossoming family.

Pia Arenhill says: July 30, 2017 at 02:55 AM

Hej Alicia. Jag tycker mycket om att lÀsa din blogg. Har följt dig i mÄnga Är och uppskattar det tilltal som du har.Du verkar ta hand om din lilla flicka sÄ fint och bra. Jag Àr en "gammal" mamma med vuxna barn som har arbetat med barn i hela mitt liv. Jag Àr alltid intresserad av relationer förÀldrar och barn. NÄgot som alltid imponerat mig i blogg Àr hur du hinner sÄ mycket, sÀrskilt i den hastighet du stickar underbara koftor för att inte tala om alla fina bomullsklÀnningar. En del kÀnner jag igen frÄn nÀr jag sjÀlv var barn pÄ 50-talet. Du Àr en stor inspirationskÀlla till mig. Idag funderade jag tom pÄ att starta en egen blogg. Jag har 3 underbara pojkbarnbarn som jag Àlskar över allt (ja frÄnsett vÄr tvÄ döttrar). Kanske kunde det kul om inte annat för min egen skull att fÄ syn pÄ livet, i bild och ord.Fortsatt glad sommar önskar Pia i som bor lÀngst ner i södra Sverige.

Kathleen says: July 30, 2017 at 04:43 AM

Oh but you must begin at the beginning with Rosemunde Pilcher because they are connected! Lovely books but I keep having to stop and make more tea.

Happy Anniversary ! The book list is great - I have read several on the list and Cutting for Stone is my all time favorite!! You won't be able to put it down.

Happy Anniversary!! I love Rosamunde Pilcher books. My most favorite one is "Winter Solstice". Thanks for your beautiful stories & pictures!!!

If you are part English you are entitled to say, 'What Ho my old china!' . Rhyming slang for mate as in china plate.
I love Rosamunde Pilcher for totally undemanding reading in small doses.
Great freckles Amelia.

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About Alicia Paulson

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My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at aliciapaulson.com

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Since August of 2011 I've been using a Canon EOS 60D with an EF 18-200mm kit lens and an EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens.