Books & Cookies!

Hey there– It’s reading weather around here– cooler, calling for mugs of tea and books on the couch.  I wonder if you’re in the middle of a good book these days.  What are you reading??!

“Let’s be reasonable and add an eighth day to the week that is devoted exclusively to reading.”
– Lena Dunham

If you’re a reader (and I think a lot of you are!), get read to be charmed by Anne Bogel’s new book, I’d Rather Be Reading, the Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life. You’ll see yourself on these pages in chapters like Confess Your Literary Sins or Bookworm Problems (so funny!).
Here’s a quote from Anne:
“It took me thirty-five years to find my twin… We’re no bound by blood or formal ties. We’ve never shared a last name or an address or Thanksgiving dinner. Our twinness is confined to our reading lives: she’s that remarkable reader whose taste bears an astonishing resemblance to my own.”
The good news is that Anne also has a well curated book blog at Modern Mrs. Darcy.  Check it out!!

I discovered Kate Morton this year and am starting to make my way though her engaging stories.  Mostly recently, The House at Riverton.  In this book, is the recounting of a 98 year old woman with the family who lived in the house and the tragic death that shaped their history.  It was written before Downton Abbey but feels very much the same in detail and characters (I wonder if Julian Fellowes read the book!).  The narrator tells the stories of Hannah and Emmeline, sisters, whom she served as a lady’s maid.  The story pulls you along right until the end when the mystery unfolds. Now I’m waiting for her newest book, The Clockmaker’s Daughter!

I have a special affinity for Fatiima MIrza’s book A Place for Us. Rafiq and Lyla are the parents of 3 grown children who were raised in their conservative Muslim family in the Bay Area.  When the oldest daughter marries, the prodigal son, Amar, returns to the family.  Different family members recount incidents in the the growing up years of the children with tenderness and sometimes sorrow.  I loved the parents hearts for their three children and the last section of the book, the father’s recounting of his interactions with his son, had tears streaming down my face.  Beautiful complicated characters and the beautiful telling of one family’s story.

Love and Ruin by Paula McLain describes of the tumultuous love affair and marriage of Martha Gellhorn and Ernest Hemingway.  Mostly told from the point of view of Martha, third of Hemingway’s four wives.  She is a writer and journalist and strong personality who comes to love Hemingway when they are both war correspondents, in war torn Madrid, as Franco captures the country.  They made their home together in a writer’s get away in Cuba and travel and write around the world.  Fascinating picture of their relationship– and of course, it sent me to Wikipedia to see home much of the story was actual.  MacLain also wrote The Paris Wife, the telling of Hemingway’s first marriage, also a worthwhile book.

Last month’s book for our was Lit group was Sing Unburied Sing by Jesmyn Ward.  This story was a difficult one, narrated by sturdy 13 year old Jojo and his drug using mother Leonie.  Living in southern Mississippi with Jojo’s grandparents, they set off on a road trip to collect Jojo’s father who is being released from prison.  The story is populated by Jojo’s younger sister, his steady grandfather, Pop, an ailing grandmother and a pair of ghosts from the past.  The book is at points disturbing and at others hopeful.  Not an easy book, but a worthwhile one.  Winner of the National Book Award.

I’ll end with a sweet story, Dear Mrs. Bird by A J Pearce.  Emmeline is a young woman, living with her best friend Bunty, in war torn London during WWII.  She spends her nights at the phone bank for the Auxilary Fire Services, which responds to nightly bombings.  And by day, she is the assistant to crotchety Mrs. Bird, an advice columnist for a women’s magazine.  When Mrs. Bird discards letters from people who truly need help, Emmy can’t help responding to them.  It’s a story of deep loss and firm loyalties, of the courage of two young women.  I’m not sure why, but this book reminds me of a 1940’s Katherine Hepburn movie– girls with spunk!  Very enjoyable

   To read more book notes (all my books from the the last 3 years)–
Click on Booklist



And to go with a good afternoon read on the couch, it’s pretty essential to include a mug of hot tea and perhaps a plate of cookies.  Here’s a chewy chocolaty cookie that came out of our kitchen this week.  You might like them along with a good book…

3/4 cup butter (1  1/2 stick), room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup water
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa*
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup whole oats (uncooked!)
2 cups chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

With an electric mixer, beat together the butter, brown sugar and white sugar to make a creamy paste.  Then beat in the egg, water and vanilla.  When that’s blended, mix in the flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder and oats.  And finally beat in the chocolate chips and nuts.

Drop the batter by large spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray (or has a silpat mat).  Bake them up at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes, until they feel firm.  Let them cool a couple minutes on the cookie sheet before you lift them onto a cooking rack.  So chocolaty good!

*I used Hershey’s dark chocolate cocoa


And here’s a couple other cookie recipes that could accompany your reading:

Chocolate Toffee Slice and Bake Cookies

Gingerbread Chocolate Chip Cookies

Lemon Nut Shortbread Cookies


And to finish up– a few of my favorite pictures of people reading:
The Lady in the Polka Dot Pants by Rae Andrews
Self Portrait by Michelle Ranta

Little Girl and her bedtime books– Claire Fletcher

Daniel Gerhartz

Yuri Petrovic Kugach
Young Clergyman Reading by Martinus Rorbye

Henry Loved Eating all sorts of books!  Oliver Jeffers

“Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all.”
– Henry David Thoreau

The brilliant painting at the top of the post is by Karen Cooper.  thanks.


48 thoughts on “Books & Cookies!

  1. Oh my goodness you’re just so adorable and a brilliant blogger. I enjoyed reading your book reviews. I haven’t read fiction in a long time. I read a book about Hemingway and his first wife though before I had children. I bet I’d enjoy reading the book you mentioned about him. I tend to read a lot of nonfiction, children’s books, and listen to audiobooks these days. It just fits my life better in the moment. 😉 Did you ever get a chance to check out the Overdrive app? I’m just curious if it worked for you or if it’s just for my area. I really don’t know. 🤷‍♀️ I shared many of your blog posts with my husband today. I love your white dishes. I also love that you included cookie recipes with your book recommendations. I would love to open up a little shop in our downtown area called Cookies and Milk. I would love to serve people, provide a space for kids to play, groups to gather, have family friendly events, story time, etc. If only my husband would support this dream. 😉😜 But it’s okay…owning a business is risky business. May you have a blessed, beautiful weekend! 💖

    • Hi Jenny!! So fun to hear from you–so kind. Your Cookies and Milk Shop does sound like a dream come true!! Open for all kinds of events and pulling people together over treats and good conversation… I can guess why you don’t have time to read stacks of fiction– I’m retired so there’s time in my day to read now. What kid’s books have you read in the last few months. I’d love to see a post on that– always looking for grand-kid suggestions! And– loved your Halloween party post. Great ideas and you make it sound easy and do-able! thanks! xox

  2. Oh how I wish I had time to read like I used to. It seems that my only chance lately is when I”m on a plane and have to sit for hours. You have certainly been reading up a storm and it sounds like you found some good as well as interesting books.

  3. Hello Rhonda! I love your reviews and these books, mainly the one about Hemingway as I love to read books about his life and his books as well 🤩 And those cookies? Just perfect with the book in hands 💕 Have you celebrated already second birthday of your little girl? 😊 My little one has turned this week 2.. Have a great weekend, Rhonda! Lot of hugs!!! 😍

    • Hi Vero! I remembered that Canito’s birthday is just after Lois’ bday– I didn’t get to go up then for her cake and presents, but Ani sent a video of her opening our gifts. Loved that. And my Mom and I are going up this Tuesday. She has 2 new great grandsons to meet up there! How did you celebrate at you house?? Isn’t 2 the cutest age??! I love all the little things they think to say! Hope you’re weekend is great too. My sis and I are doing a family baby shower for her new little grand-girl. Should be a fun time all together! Hugs hugs!

      • Hello Rhonda! Isn’t it amazing being surrounded by so many “little humans”? 🙂 It is absolutely amazing age. They are becoming like little “big” people and have just amazing ideas. We had so much fun over the weekend as our little boy was trying to imitate his dad with almost everything 😀 Even with snoring 😀 And I made a cake, he got new cars (as cars are no the most important thing in the world) 🙂 I hope you had a great weekend too ❤ Hugs!!!

        • Hi Vero– so fun to hear all this! I’m picturing Canito “snoring!” ha ha! Sounds like a great birthday– they are so fun at this age. My Mom & I are flying up to San Francisco today so she can meet her 2 newest great grand-boys. So excited! hugs hugs friend.

  4. Perfect combination….books and cookies! I’m thrilled to hear you like A Place For Us! It will definitely be on my best of year list! I’m happy to hear your good report on Dear Mrs. Bird! It’s high on my TBR. After I read The Paris Wife I felt kind of done with Hemingway and his marriages! But you’ve encouraged me to give this one a try! I read Ann Bogel’s new release in one day! A love letter to the reading life! Kate Morton has written some great stories….a dependable author and solid reads……however I recently finished her newest release The Clockmaker’s Daughter and I’m sorry to report that I didn’t like it as well as some of her others. I chose not to read Sing Unburied Sing….. but I would have read it if it were a book club selection…..what was the general consensus? I also love your inclusion of art work….an all around fantastic post! Happy reading and baking and snacking!

    • Hi Carol– Mrs. Bird was fun, not great literature, but very enjoyable. And I liked the Hemingway story– I wonder if she’ll work through all 4 of his wives?? It made me want to read For Whom the Bell Tolls. The book group was glad they read Sing Unburied Sing– but all agreed it was hared going. It’s just good to know the lives that people live, so foreign from my easy suburban life. Happy you have a happy weekend! Any plans?? xox

      • Sometimes a fun read is just what is needed to break up all the heavy ones! I’m going back to the dmv this weekend for the 3rd time to try for my Real ID….. they’ve been giving me the run around! Unbelievable! It would’ve been easier to take a passport but I had let it lapse during my teaching years. Other than that, I hope to have a relaxing weekend! What are you reading now? I started Bridge of Clay and quickly put it aside for something I could understand. I picked up The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter instead.

        • Hey Carol– First– the DMV is never relaxing. ugh. At least you can take a book! Sorry to hear about Bridge of Clay–had high hopes for that book! Happy Weekend– We’re just home from a beautiful funeral, so much hope. xox

          • I’m happy to report success at the dmv! I went to the Stanton location and they had very few people…I was in and out in 45 min!
            Yeah…..Bridge of Clay…….it’s target audience is YA but the writing is obscure and I wonder how many YA readers will have patience for it. He worked on it for 13 years and it feels a bit over written. I haven’t abandoned it yet….we’ll see. Also lots of profanity because YA….and that’s not my fav either. In happier reading news, I’m sailing through The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter! Happy weekend!

  5. I always love your cookies. I need chocolate and as its snowing I might not make it to the chocolate sale after all (so sad). I love Kate Morton and read all of her books so far. I love books about book lovers. I will need to check out I’d Rather be Reading. Speaking about reading fast, you too, must read really fast to have read all these books recently.

  6. Hi Rhonda!! I loved reading these mini books reviews. I’ve had my eye on Sing Unburied Sing, sounds really good. I’m currently reading a pretty dark book called Blackbird by Michael Fiegel.

    All of the cookies featured at the bottom look delicious but especially the chocolate oatmeal. ♡

    • Thanks Mackenzie!! I’m wondering what you’re reading– besides textbooks– nowadays!! (and I’m heading up to SF today to see grand-kids–heard the weather is beautiful right now!) hugs hugs.

  7. Rhonda, I love when you post about books – it makes me want to immediately look at my local library catalog online and see if they have the books you talked about! This post you went a step further and added another favorite – chocolate cookies! Who can resist those two together?! Perfect combination! Thanks for the suggestion!! The weather here is finally getting a little cooler and a cup of hot tea with some freshly baked cookies, while sitting and reading a good book – sounds like the perfect thing to do! Hugs, friend!

    • Hi Daisy!! I have another book I’ve just started– The Gospel Comes with a House Key. Have you read it?? We watched the author talk (on you tube) when we were stripping wallpaper at our daughter’s house and she has an amazing story–loving the book so far… It’s a little cooler here too– wearing a sweater today!! hooray! Bless you friend. xoxo

    • No!! So many books to anticipate Kat!! I have a tiny notebook in my purse with that many titles I’m hoping to track down at the library!! What’s on your book list Kat?? and- I thought Sing Unburied Sing was a hard book to read, but I loved Pop and his relationship with Jojo. That kept me reading… OK, take care friend. You’re the best Kat! xox

  8. Rhonda, thank you for the book suggestions! I’m ready to read fiction again, as for months I’ve read self help books. I must make these cookies for school and for Tom! It sounds like your weather pattern is the same as ours, wet and rainy. This weekend our temperatures are supposed to be mild and warm. Unusual for November. Blessings friend❤️😍

    • Hey Mary!! Hope you like the cookies– and I’d love to see a post of all you’ve been reading. I’ve been gone last week– need to get over and catch up on your posts!! How was your weekend?? xox

      • Hi Rhonda, I’ll try to work on a reading post soon! Thanks for the suggestion. The weekend was great but I didn’t do much. I hung out at home cleaning, baking and planning Thanksgiving. Hugs❤️❤️❤️

        • Hey Mary– I’ve got my Thanksgiving planning lists going too! We’re all meeting up in Ojai (where my son lives) and staying at different Air Bnb’s– So I’m imagining all the stuff I need to cart up there to produce a Thanksgiving dinner! Are you all celebrating at your house?? Are you the cook? hugs!

          • Good luck with all the planning. It’s wonderful that your family will all be together!We are having Tom’s sister Bev and her husband Chris and our youngest son Branden for the dinner. Dylan and Lexy are going to her family for dinner but will come for dessert. The day before I took off and my sister in law will cook with me. I’ll make the pies a few days before. Are you cooking or is it a team effort?

  9. You are right! I am reading this way too. I am reading a flemish book by a flemish female writer called ladykillers, a thriller. Now, I am reading a book by William Shaw, also a thriller, called: wasp’s nest.

    • Sounds exciting Sophie!! Are those the books that you can’t put down because you have to know what happens next??! I’m midway through a murder mystery (not my normal fare), but it’s sort of a thriller too. Happy reading. hugs friend!

    • They are my favorite too Mollie– I like you can make them ahead and slice them when you want cookies. And– making your carne asada next week again when the kids are down– it’s the new staple around here! hugs hugs friend!

  10. Hooray for books and cookies!

    The first one on the list sounds like one I want to read like right now. I read Sing Unburied Sing about six months ago. It was a hard read, but I wanted to talk about the ending with someone. So I choose it as my book club pick when it was my turn.

    I’ve started using the goodreads app to track books I’ve read and books I want to read. Have you heard of it or do you use it?

    • Agree– Sing Unburied Sing was our Lit Group book too. I don’t know if I would have picked it up otherwise– but loved Jojo and his grandfather and am glad I read it for a look at lives removed from mine. Am signed up at Goodreads, but really haven’t used it much. I have a favorite book blogger — I’ve read several books she’s recommended and I haven’t been disappointed! Seriously Lacey, when do you find time to read?? You’e amazing! xo

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