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South and West
South and West: From a Notebook | Joan Didion
From the best-selling author of the National Book Award-winning The Year of Magical Thinking: two extended excerpts from her never-before-seen notebooks--writings that offer an illuminating glimpse into the mind and process of a legendary writer. Joan Didion has always kept notebooks: of overheard dialogue, observations, interviews, drafts of essays and articles--and here is one such draft that traces a road trip she took with her husband, John Gregory Dunne, in June 1970, through Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. She interviews prominent local figures, describes motels, diners, a deserted reptile farm, a visit with Walker Percy, a ladies' brunch at the Mississippi Broadcasters' Convention. She writes about the stifling heat, the almost viscous pace of life, the sulfurous light, and the preoccupation with race, class, and heritage she finds in the small towns they pass through. And from a different notebook: the "California Notes" that began as an assignment from Rolling Stone on the Patty Hearst trial of 1976. Though Didion never wrote the piece, watching the trial and being in San Francisco triggered thoughts about the city, its social hierarchy, the Hearsts, and her own upbringing in Sacramento. Here, too, is the beginning of her thinking about the West, its landscape, the western women who were heroic for her, and her own lineage, all of which would appear later in her acclaimed 2003 book, Where I Was From.
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ONH
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When your friends are always late to boozy brunch, you learn to bring a book 😂

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SharonGoforth
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Book haul from two stores: Bottom three are from the used bookstore and the rest are from an independent bookstore. I had coupons, percentages off, and cash for books that I brought in. Didn‘t spend much on these at all!! 📚#bookhaul

Theaelizabet Fabulous haul! 7mo
SharonGoforth @Theaelizabet Thank you!!☺️ 7mo
38 likes2 comments
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SharonGoforth
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When all your holds come in at once! 📚😊 #libraryhaul #bookstack

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m.galehuxley
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Didion‘s descriptive and thoughtful writing is ideal for my audio tastes—especially this book because it‘s short.

22 likes2 stack adds
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farrahkohn

“In New Orleans the wilderness is sensed as very near, not the redemptive wilderness of western imagination but something rank and old and malevolent.”

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farrahkohn
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It‘s -27 here in Minneapolis (regular temp, not windchill) which has led to the cancellation of my remaining classes this week. Here I am in bed wearing a wool sweater, hat, and flannel pj bottoms under my down comforter. At least I have Joan Didion.

julesG Stay warm 12mo
Kaye Funny. You have your hood on ...it‘s certainly nippy here today. A high of ONE expected. 12mo
farrahkohn @kaye our high for today is -14... #minnesotaproblems 12mo
See All 9 Comments
Kaye Holy smokes. You Minnesota folks must be made out of tough stuff. ! 12mo
farrahkohn @kaye I would say determined more than tough, and we certainly know how to layer! 12mo
Kaye When do you begin seeing signs of Spring ? Are your winters super long ? 12mo
farrahkohn Depends on the year. Last year we had a long winter. Normally I would say spring begins in April? By May it‘s consistently warmer... and our summers and autumns are gorgeous! This is even beautiful, I just like it to be not dangerous level temps (above zero) so I can get out and enjoy it! 12mo
Kaye Yes, it does look as if you have some perfect weather months. It‘s just getting through the winters. I used to like snow, but the older I get, the less I like it. Fear of falling, fear of driving on slick roads , and wearing coats. It‘s so nice to go out without a coat when it warms up. We usually see beginnings of spring here in April, but have lots of rain sometimes up through June , depending on the year. 12mo
15 likes9 comments
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farrahkohn
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I have a Joan Didion problem. #joandidion

CrowCAH Welcome to the Litsy family!!! 📚 12mo
farrahkohn @CrowCAH thanks! 12mo
15 likes1 stack add2 comments
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Pasteluniverse
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Pickpick

I‘m such a huge fan of Joan Didion‘s writing, she can do no wrong in my eyes. This is such a wonderful book for anyone that romanticizes going on a road trip set in the flat, beautiful land that is the South. She makes acute observations throughout her various notebook entries and it‘s one of those books that stays with you long after you finish it‘s last page. Great book!

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Emilymdxn
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Pickpick

How did this book go by so fast?? I put it on while I did chores and suddenly it was over, I had no idea it was so short! Amazing though, detailed, perfectly formed sketches of societies and people. I loved the insight into an area of the states i never normally read about. Frankly Joan Didion could write a shopping list and I‘d give it five stars. Bet she‘d write a good shopping list

40 likes2 stack adds
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Emilymdxn
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I love Joan Didion and I‘m so excited to read more by her. Thoughtful female writers of non fiction about society, why countries are the way they are, give me life. I‘m sure I‘ll read everything she‘s ever written one day, but this is just my third so far

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MLRio

I had only some dim and unformed sense, a sense which struck me now and then, and which I could not explain coherently, that for some years the South and particularly the Gulf Coast had been for America what people were still saying California was, and what California seemed to me not to be: the future, the secret source of malevolent and benevolent energy, the psychic center. I did not much want to talk about this.

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MLRio
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Pickpick

Perhaps I‘m biased, given that I have also been a Californian stranger in the South and I found so much of this so terribly familiar, but Didion off the cuff is probably more eloquent and more insightful than many others will ever be with years of deliberation. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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MLRio

As it happens I was taught to cook by someone from Louisiana, where an avid preoccupation with recipes and food among men was not unfamiliar to me. We lived together for some years, and I think we most fully understood each other when once I tried to kill him with a kitchen knife.

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MLRio
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The best antidote to one too many bad books by straight men 💅🏻 #readwomen

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MLRio
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Came home from a great trip to a clean house with new books 📚 #bookhaul #music #nonfiction #readwomen

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JennyM
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Day 30: #readingresolutions South and #West

Joan Didion, ah, and I loved the recent doco about her on Netflix.
@Jess7

28 likes2 stack adds
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kaywa
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Jessicaswebster
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‘In the south they are convinced that they have bloodied their place with history, in the West we do not believe that anything we do can bloody the land, or change it, or touch it. How could it have come to this?‘

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Leftcoastzen
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Pickpick

A short book to start the new year . This title is really just notes on the south and California , from projects that never came to be. Because Ms. Didion is so talented, her notes are more interesting and insightful than most writers polished product. But maybe I‘m just prejudiced, I love all I have read by her .#JoanDidion

Eggs Me too 2y
29 likes1 stack add1 comment
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nofutureparttwo
Mehso-so

This was a quick read, especially as an audiobook. I love Didion, but felt like there wasn‘t much of substance here. Also: listening to this book, as opposed to reading it visually, made it difficult for me to retain and follow the threads of what are essentially collected but nonnarrative notes and fragments. Didion‘s observations about the South are still salient, but I felt they were not quite the prophetic insights the foreword described.

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BookishMarginalia
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Pickpick

Idiosyncratic and interesting notes —not finished essays— by Joan Didion.

112 likes2 stack adds
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DivineDiana
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Pickpick

Observations of people and places as Joan travels with her husband through the South while gathering information to write a story. Haunting at times. Insight into her upbringing. Again, I realize that I should only choose a certain kind of book to listen to while driving. Couldn‘t really appreciate the writing.

75 likes2 stack adds
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DivineDiana
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New car “read”! Loved the Netflix documentary about Joan Didion.

Leftcoastzen That doc is fantastic! I‘m going to watch it again. 2y
61 likes1 stack add2 comments
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LouLouLane
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This book and the show #Orville just got me through a tough week. The writing was very calming. #thankfullyreading

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LouLouLane
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I needed a break from #IT and south and west is exactly how I‘m currently feeling. This book looks to be set in New Orleans and San Francisco- my two favorite cities! Has anyone seen the documentary on Netflix? Excited to jump on the #joandidion train.

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BookAlongBlog
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"I write entirely to find out what I'm thinking, what I'm looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear."
~Joan Didion
I watched the Joan Didion documentary on Netflix last night. This lady had quite the life! She is one of my favorite writers and it was great to hear her speak about her life.
Have you read any of her work?
__
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#joandidion #femaleauthor #books #bookish #bookworm #booklover #bookcollection

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Jen2
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Pickpick

Really good!!

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Nitpickyabouttrains
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Pickpick

Super interesting notes from the 1970s. Didion records ideas and observations and conversations in her particular voice.

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caitlin.reads.books
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Pickpick

Me and Emmie liked Joan Didion's South and West. I love the idea of traveling to learn and write about different places as Joan did. Her observations were interesting and timeless.

Stephanie-Anne Loved this! 2y
15 likes1 comment
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RememberedTales
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Mehso-so

I think I was expecting more deep thoughts and consideration of the areas, less play by play clips with varying description.

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Billypar
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Mehso-so

Very mixed reaction to this one. On the one hand, Didion's accounts from her notes on travels in the American South in the 1970s seem to have something important to say about today's cultural divide in American politics and the political bubbles we all inhabit. But I don't think these kind of journalistic depictions speak for themselves. They deserve some analysis that explores where the line falls between cultural critique and exploration.

Sace Love your thoughts! I think that have been what my issue was as well. It just needed something more. 3y
Billypar @Sace Yes- part of it is, I think Joan Didion is by all accounts pretty brilliant so I wanted her to step out of reporter mode and talk about what her impressions then mean to her now. 3y
Billypar Should have waited until today to post this review: #compasspoints , #JubilantJuly @RealLifeReading 3y
14 likes3 comments
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blankpagesofmine
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Reading outdoors is like sitting outdoors and taking in a view, while reading. That's exactly what it is. The only difference being that you get absorbed into two worlds, whereas merely sitting outside without a book in hand only allows you to be a part of one.

~blankpagesofmine

#amwriting #writing #reading #books #southandwest #joandidion #bibliophile #bookworm #fourthofjuly #city #view

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blankpagesofmine
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"I write entirely to find out what I'm thinking, what I'm looking at, what I see and what it means."

#writerslife #writer #books #morning #coffee #reading #mug #southandwest #joandidion #bibliophile #bookworm

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balletbookworm
Pickpick

An interesting little book. I appreciate the way everything was left unpolished. It was a nice book to read in small chunks at the end of the day.

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rachellayown
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Mehso-so

I picked this one up for the travel memoir task for Book Riot's Read Harder Challenge because it was short and I figured it would be good because it's by Joan Didion. She's a great writer, but the tone seemed condescending and the book felt flat.

Billypar Bummer- this was the next hold I was expecting to come in. It's for the audio version- any chance that could improve it? Maybe I'll give it 30 minutes and see if it grabs me. 3y
rachellayown I listened to the audio too @Billypar. It's a quick listen (less than 3 hours) and certainly not terrible. I hope you enjoy it! 3y
39 likes1 stack add2 comments
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Chelapf
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Trying to figure out how I feel about Joan Didion.

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OffTheBeatenShelf.com

So, I grew up in Alabama and she mentions this country club in Mountain Brook, a stupidly expensive suburb outside Birmingham, my home town. What's crazy is the country club is still there and STILL has mostly black servers wearing white gloves to appeal to the "old south" vibe. I went there for a cousin's wedding and a friend's birthday and it's downright creepy if you know anything about history and social justice.

Chelsey 😖😳👎 3y
ValerieAndBooks Yikes 😨!! 3y
LeahBergen And Mountain Brook was basically developed and built as a "whites only" community in the 1920s. ? 3y
OffTheBeatenShelf.com @LeahBergen yes!! I heard they intentionally made the roads super winding to make it easy to get lost. Therefore making it unwelcome to anyone who didn't live there. Ughhhh. 3y
17 likes4 comments
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OffTheBeatenShelf.com
Mehso-so

It reads like a meandering notebook of observations because that's exactly what it is, and they tell you that in the beginning. No one's first drafts, much less notes, are riveting, so I wouldn't recommend starting your first Didion with this one. But if you're already a fan and familiar with her other nonfiction works, you'll probably like this.

Sace I feel vindicated. This was my first Didion. Not a good choice. And I felt bad because everyone praises her. Now I see the mistake was my choice of book. 3y
OffTheBeatenShelf.com @Sace No worries, it happens. I started with The Year of Magical Thinking, which is her book on grief and mourning. It's sad, but extremely well-written. I feel like it was a good place to start, but so would be The White Album. 3y
17 likes2 comments
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OffTheBeatenShelf.com
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A bunch of my library holds came in at the same time, which is a good problem to have. :) I'm on vacation, so I thought this short travelogue would be a good choice. I'm usually opposed to notebooks/first drafts of things being published, but I feel like Joan Didion at her worst is still better than most people at their best. Let's see if I'm right.

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Lupita.Reads
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Mehso-so

I'm feeling so torn about the rating I provided for this book. I've heard nothing but amazing things about the great Joan Didion. The writing is amazing, but just not sure the content made me feel anything. This was my first Joan Didion; I have a feeling that maybe I shouldn't have picked this as a first read. Any recommendations on what to read next by her?

EvieBee You might enjoy this one. 3y
quietjenn Slouching Towards Bethlehem and The White Album are my favorite collections. 3y
nicole742 I agree with quietjenn - go for Slouching Towards Bethlehem or The White Album. I think you'll get a better idea of why so many people like Didion's writing. ☺️ 3y
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BestOfFates Definitely not a great intro to Joan Didion - you can tell why she didn't think they were worthy of being printed at the time! 3y
Lupita.Reads @EvieBee84 thanks so much for the rec! Adding it to my list! 3y
Lupita.Reads @quietjenn thanks so much for the recs! 3y
Lupita.Reads @nicole742 AH! Thank you so much! 3y
Lupita.Reads @BestOfFates for sure. Thanks so much for sharing that insight! 3y
sarahbethpurcell @EvieBee84 @Lupita.Reads Agreed. The Year Of Magical Thinking was my favorite of Didion's by far. 3y
75 likes9 comments
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Pinkmeghan
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Pickpick

I have an insatiable urge to read about California in the springtime. This hit the spot. I find Didion cannot be read in long stretches, only in bite size chunks. I enjoyed it, but it is very rough, clearly notes, without a cohesive thought process.

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Pinkmeghan
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From the foreword to South and West. I feel like so many of the books I read now have this as an undercurrent. #belletrist #belletristbookclub

58 likes1 stack add
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Lacythebookworm
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Panpan

Nope. The condescension is unbearable.

emilyhaldi Very interesting. I'm reading this one now and keep putting it down for the same reason. 3y
Notafraidofwords This is on my TBR. I knew she would be condescending. Lol. 3y
89 likes2 comments
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Lacythebookworm
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Took advantage of the Audible half price sale to pick up a few I wouldn't want to spend a credit on (i.e. they're under $15)!

Laura317 I did the same thing! 3y
See All 6 Comments
BethFishReads I was only so so on this 3y
Lacythebookworm @BethFishReads That's how I'm feeling about it, too. 3y
BethFishReads @Lacythebookworm glad to know I'm not the only one 3y
74 likes1 stack add6 comments
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SubwayBookReview
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Karah: “These days a lot of people have an ‘I-share-therefore-I-am' mentality. Joan Didion reveals her true self only as much as she wants to. I think that‘s why she has such a cult following. There is always something new to discover. Once you start reading about something, you keep seeing it in your world. It makes you think and contextualizes little moments in your life. If you don't want to think, don't read."

Jennifer3 Love the comment "If you don't want to think, don't read." 3y
Djdjfj Jennifer3 took the words right out of my mouth.😊 Thank you for sharing that quote!👍🏻 3y
65 likes6 stack adds2 comments
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DebinHawaii
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Mehso-so

I love Joan Didion & The Year of Magical Thinking is a book I reach for when I need to process grief or understand myself during hard times, but this book just didn't do it for me. It's short, excerpts from her notebooks mostly about a road trip she took w/ her husband in the 70s. There are some beautiful passages & descriptions-but for me nothing pulled it together & it fell short. However the avocado toast w/spicy garlic aioli was stellar. 😋🍴

Lakesidemusing Aww, too bad. But that food!!! 3y
Sace "nothing pulled together" Yes! I had the same thought about this. 3y
Zelma I really want to read Magical Thinking but my paperback has super tiny print. I need to find an easier copy to read. 3y
Dragon Your toast always looks so yummy 😀 3y
93 likes1 stack add4 comments
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mdemanatee
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Haven't finished anything in a while because of the move. Hope to get through this and the others I am in the middle of.

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JulietteGF
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Pickpick

I hesitated between pick and so-so... It's the first book by her that I read. I should have begun by another one. I really enjoyed her writing, but I found this little book hard to follow, I would have liked more context and information.

Notafraidofwords She's the queen of no context. I'm slowly getting through her catalog. 3y
15 likes1 comment
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BethFishReads
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Just started listening (read by Kimberly Farr) while preparing one-pot pasta with a simple tomato sauce

LauraBeth 😋😋 3y
BethFishReads @LauraBeth it's starting smell soooo good 3y
MyNamesParadise That looks good!! 3y
50 likes3 comments