Book Review: Golden Glow by Dan D’Addona and Kaitlin Sandeno

21 Dec

I’m very lucky that my local Indie bookstore is co-owned by a former swimming reporter. It makes the store a hot spot for swimmers on book tour. I took advantage of such an event to meet Kaitlin Sandeno last summer. 

Cover image via Amazon

Golden Glow by Dan D’Addona and Kaitlin Sandeno

Summary from Amazon:

Kaitlin Sandeno was one of the world’s greatest and most versatile swimmers. Competing at the 2000 and 2004 Olympics, she was a part of the world record breaking 4×200-meter relay team and is one of an elite few to medal in three different strokes.

Golden Glow: How Kaitlin Sandeno Achieved Gold in the Pool and in Life recounts Sandeno’s amazing swimming career—including her spectacular Olympic performances—and details the impact she has made in the world outside the pool. Breaking into the Olympics at seventeen years old, she became the face of the team with her enthusiasm and bubbly personality. She returned to the Olympics four years later to have one of the most dominating meets by an American woman in history. But Sandeno’s legacy in the pool is nothing compared to how she has used her platform to help those around her. She is the national spokesperson for the Jessie Rees Foundation and spreads joy around the country to children fighting cancer. She has emceed Olympic trials, hosted multiple shows for USA Swimming, and has given back to her sport, as a coach of youth teams and now as general manager of the International Swimming League’s DC Trident.

Golden Glow is not only the story of how hard work and perseverance led Sandeno to Olympic gold but also how she has used her success in the pool to inspire those around her.

I was excited to get into this book and learn more about Sandeno’s career. She came up right when I started to follow swimming closely so I didn’t know a ton about her and was excited to read more. Sandeno was great to hear speak and I think part of what I enjoyed so much about this book was remembering the excitement she had when she spoke at her event and knowing that the bubbly personality portrayed in the book was 100% genuine.

The characters were all so positively drawn that if I hadn’t met Kaitlin, I might not have believed how energetic she can be. Since meeting her, I believe this was a very accurate depiction of her, her friends, and her family. The way Sandeno was involved in the story, I knew things would be in a positive light but I didn’t find it rang false and I was glad to hear about her family.

Sandeno’s friends played a big part in this book and I was touched by how close she stayed with friends from high school and college swimming. She seemed to be very loyal to them and they cared for each other in a very meaningful way. I envied those friendships.

My friend Sarah, D’Addona, Sandeno, and me, August 2019

I could understand the ups-and-downs of a swimming career as Sandeno described them. While my stages were not as big as hers, I’ve had that rival that you just can’t seem to beat and those time barriers you just can’t seem to break. It was very relatable to me and made me feel better that even Olympians have the same struggles.

The end of Kaitlin’s career wasn’t what she wanted, but she had so much grace to approach it the way she did. I really enjoyed reading that section and seeing how she could leave the sport on her terms and with such dignity. It earned her even more respect in my mind.

I was frustrated with this book at the beginning. Instead of chronologically progressing through Sandeno’s life, it started with her involvement with the Jessie Rees Foundation, a post-career involvement. I thought this was a weird way to begin the book and upon reaching the end, didn’t understand why it didn’t come there. It started the book on a weird foot for me.

Sandeno didn’t win the individual gold that everyone else wanted for her. But the time she achieved was enough for her to feel like she’d won gold. The relay she did win gold on was legendary. Her Golden Glow is how she approaches life in and out of the water. She really does radiate positivity.

Writer’s Takeaway: I wasn’t a huge fan of the structure of this book. There were a lot of long quotes from Sandeno, her friends, family, and coaches. These were linked together with D’Addona’s narrative. Sometimes, this worked well. Other times, it seemed a bit jolting and seemed to stray on- and off-topic. It was good at giving first-hand accounts, but not the easiest to read for a book-length piece.

Overall I enjoyed this but it wasn’t my favorite. Three out of Five Stars.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

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WWW Wednesday, 16-December-2020

16 Dec

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: Nothing new with Lateral Thinking by Edward de Bono. I know I’ll get back to it eventually so I’m trying not to worry about it much.
My reading buddy and I had our second-to-last meeting about The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger yesterday. So I’m pushing through to the end! I’m excited to wrap this up this week and have a review up soon.
I made some big progress with A Burnable Book by Bruce Holsinger after a long drive to the doctor’s office last week. I’m a lot more optimistic that I’ll finish it this year now.
I started a new physical book this week and picked up A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro. I’m a big fan of a few Ishiguro works but he can be hit or miss with me. Let’s hope this one is a hit.

Recently finished: I wrapped up Golden Glow by Kaitlin Sandeno and Dan D’Addona on Sunday which means I’ve now read all the autographed books on my shelf! Once book events can happen again, I know I’ll fail at this again but for now, it’s a good feeling. I plan to have a review up next week.

Reading next: My library has reopened and I’m still waiting on the inter-library loan of Hum if You Don’t Know the Words by Bianca Marais. Fingers crossed!
I’ll need an audiobook soon so I’m going to pick up Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. This is a book club pick for January so I want to give myself plenty of time to wrap it up.


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

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Book Club Reflection: The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

14 Dec

My book club met last week to discuss a book I really enjoyed, The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown. Happily, most of us enjoyed the book a lot so it was a very positive discussion.

Many commented that the races were well written and easy to follow. The quotes from Pocock at the beginning of each chapter were really great, too, and helped give some context. We gave rowing a lot more credit after reading the book because of the details we learned went into it, even with sports technology where it was in the 30s. Some felt that the narrative got a little detailed at times because of the minutia about the sport, but they were able to push through and still enjoy the story.

Many of us were very impressed with Joe. He went through a lot of trauma with his mother dying when he was so young and how his family left him when he was only ten years old. He was very motivated to attend school so he could get a good job and raise himself up. Many other students were mentioned throughout the book who were in the same situation. He was lucky to have Joyce, who was one of the only constant things in his life and one of the most wonderful things to come into his life.

Rowing is not a big sport in our area. There are some crews on the Detroit River, out of the Belle Isle Yacht Club, but that’s a very exclusive and small set. I know there are big schools in our area with teams. My sister-in-law rowed in college so I’m probably a little more aware of the sport than most. Many readers said they wouldn’t be aware of rowing outside the Olympics.

There was a good historical context in this book as well. The lead-up to WWII was a prominent part and we wondered if the coxswain had revealed his Jewish ancestry if he’d still have been able to compete. A reader recommended the book Olympic Pride, American Prejudice by Deborah Riley Draper about the Black experience at the 36 Olympics, focusing on the runners and Jesse Owens. This book didn’t go into that area much but it’s another big historical marker from the 36 games.

At our meeting, we looked and saw that WU was ranked 2nd nationally in men’s crew. USC was 3rd. I guess the rivalry is still strong.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

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WWW Wednesday, 9-December-2020

9 Dec

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I actually read a little bit of Lateral Thinking by Edward de Bono! About a chapter. It’s not much, but I’m happy with it.
I’m back in The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger and I’ve still got about 40 pages in our section before I hit our last stopping point. It will be fun to finish this one before the new year.
I’ve taken a break on Golden Glow by Kaitlin Sandeno and Dan D’Addona while I get back to Salinger. I’m sure I’ll be back to it shortly and I should finish it quickly, I’ve taken a big chunk out of it.
I haven’t gotten through a lot of A Burnable Book by Bruce Holsinger but I’m enjoying it so far. I’m not very worried about finishing it by the end of the month, but it will be closer than I’d like.

Recently finished: Nothing new this week. Though I’m optimistic I’ll have something finished next week. I was able to post my review of The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown last Thursday. My book club met last week to talk about it and I’ll post notes from our discussion tomorrow. I really enjoyed this book and gave it a full Five out of Five Stars.

Reading next: I think I’ll need a physical book next and it will be one of two. My library is currently closed and I’ve requested a book via Inter-library Loan. So it will depend on when that’s available. I’ve requested Hum if You Don’t Know the Words by Bianca Marais. This is a book club selection that wasn’t available digitally so I’m hoping to get a copy. The group doesn’t meet until January so I have time.
If the library doesn’t open up soon, I’ll grab one from my shelves. It will be A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro. I’ve had this one on my shelves for a long time and I look forward to finally getting to it.


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

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Books as Christmas Presents

8 Dec

I decided to put my money where my values were this year and bought a lot of my family and friends books from my local Indie Bookstore, Literati. Their shipping prices have fluctuated but have stayed low and it was cheaper than a lot of the other Indie bookstores I looked at. I thought I’d share this quick guide to what I got people so you could get some ideas and see what books might be good for someone on your list!

Father In Law: This guy’s a big reader, so he gets two books! He’s a big John Grisham fan and Literati had signed copies of A Time for Mercy so that was an easy pick! I also thought he’d like Moby-Duck by Donovan Hohn which I read and loved earlier this year. My FIL likes fast-paced fiction and nonfiction with a focus on history and biography.

Mother In Law: It’s hard to buy books for my MIL because anything with strong reviews is quickly picked up and finished. I was recommended to get her The Grammarians by Cathleen Schine. This is a newer release so I’m hoping she hasn’t found time for it yet. I warned the bookseller that anything at Target with a Book Club sticker on it, she’d read. Let’s hope this is right!

Nephew (6)- My sister-in-law just flipped through the two InvestiGator books by John Patrick Green that I got for my nephew and is so excited because they look like a blast. He’s very high energy so I’m hoping he can sit still long enough to read these two!

Niece (9)- My middle niece is super creative and my husband and I are encouraging her love for graphic novels right now. We got her Stargazing by Jen Wang and this one is also sister-in-law approved. We’re on a role!

Niece (11)- This one was easy. She wanted Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald by J.K. Rowling. A girl after my own heart. Though, and I could do a separate post about this, this movie was a huge disappointment to me.

Sister-in-law: My brother’s wife always gets us books for Christmas so I figured that I’d repay the favor. We talked a lot about mystery books and I remembered reading Derek B. Miller’s Norwegian by Night a few years ago and enjoying the sequel earlier this year. It’s a bit more literary than most murder thrillers, but I thought she might enjoy the change of pace.

Brother in-law’s fiancee: I’m not sure what the right term is for this person, but I say she’s about the be another ‘married-in’ to my husband’s family. I asked my BIL what she might like, and he said she’d enjoyed Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s feminist essay. I was happy to find she’d recently released another feminist work, Dear Ijeawela. That was an easy pick!

Husband’s Friend: My husband plays D&D with a friend whose birthday is around Christmas and we always get a gift for. This friend is gay and I thought he’d love V.E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic and its sequels. I adored this series and I couldn’t help but think of it as my husband told me about his latest D&D adventures.

I’m glad I’ve got all these books ordered or on-hand for everyone. I hope I’ve done something to help keep my Indy Bookstore in business through COVID. I want them there when I’m able to browse in person again.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

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Goodreads Challenge Complete!

7 Dec

I’m so excited to say that I finished my Goodreads reading challenge! I was doing pretty well at it all year so it’s nice to have it finished and not have to worry about it as we get into the holidays. I’ll exceed it a bit, but I’m not sure I’ll be 10 over my goal like I was last year.

29 out of 55 books were audiobooks
4 out of 55 were ebooks
22 out of 55 were physical books

This is a much better portion of physical books than I normally get! I’m really excited about that. I know I’ll get a much better breakdown of my reading when I get to the beginning of January so I’ll share more then and will include the books I read this final month of the year as well.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

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Book Review: The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown (5/5)

3 Dec

I was excited when my book club picked this one. I’ve heard a lot about it over the years and it sounded like one I’d like a lot. When it came down to the wire and if I’d finish it or not in time for my book club, I wished it was a little shorter. But I loved every minute of it.

Cover image via Amazon

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown

Summary from Amazon:

It was an unlikely quest from the start. With a team composed of the sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers, the University of Washington’s eight-oar crew team was never expected to defeat the elite teams of the East Coast and Great Britain, yet they did, going on to shock the world by defeating the German team rowing for Adolf Hitler. The emotional heart of the tale lies with Joe Rantz, a teenager without family or prospects, who rows not only to regain his shattered self-regard but also to find a real place for himself in the world. Drawing on the boys’ own journals and vivid memories of a once-in-a-lifetime shared dream, Brown has created an unforgettable portrait of an era, a celebration of a remarkable achievement, and a chronicle of one extraordinary young man’s personal quest.

As an atelete, I love stories about athletic achievement, even if it’s in a sport I don’t practice. I enjoyed reading about rowing, a sport I don’t know much about. I was able to find parallels to swimming and triathlon that helped me understand what the men were going through. I loved the details about setbacks and races, things that many sports have in common. I think a lot of the themes in this book were universal for sports and I enjoyed it a lot.

Joe was a great focus character for this book. Not only did he have to overcome the physical challenges of being an elite athlete, he had to overcome socioeconomic barriers to get to where he was. I was fascinated by the descriptions of how he reacted to the teasing his teammates gave him and how he overcame the poverty he was faced with. Every time I was shocked at the way his father and step-mother left him alone, I had to remind myself that this was a different time and a boy of his age had different ways to fend for himself that a boy today wouldn’t have. I was amazed at the resourcefulness of Joe and also jealous that he could raise enough money for a year of college in the summer!

Joyce was a favorite character of mine. I always enjoyed when she’d come up. She was such a genuine and caring person. She was brave to stick with Joe while he was going through so much and her support helped him stay motivated. I was impressed by how she moved to Seattle and worked to be near Joe. I was glad to hear she graduated herself. The way she interacted with Joe’s siblings was very sweet and made me realize she was going to be a good partner for someone with a heart as big as Joe.

I related a lot to the training side of this story. I was a competitive swimmer for 8 years and I’ve been doing triathlon for the past six years. Early mornings and sore muscles are part of my life as well so I could understand the grueling training regimines the boys were going through.

Daniel James Brown
Image via Amazon

The descriptions of the races were incredible in this book. I loved that a race could be an entire chapter. There are so many little moments that make up a race and it was great to hear it all given it’s due.

There wasn’t a part of this book I disliked. I thought it was all relevant and all came together to tell the story of the team and how hard they had to fight and how much they labored to get to where they were. I found it inspiring.

The audiobook was narrated by Edward Herrmann and I thought he did a wonderful job. He gave weight to the heavy moments and was lighthearted during happy times. He didn’t try to do voices which I thought was best for a nonfiction book like this. I see he’s done some Stegner novels as well so I might have to check him out again.

The boys from Washington were underdogs and everyone loves an underdog story. Their win was the result of a shift in Washington that prioritized rowing and made them believe they could do what many thought was impossible. They proved that Western rowers could be dominant and that the small state of Washington should be on the map. It’s crazy  now to think of Seattle as a small town with a small school.

Writer’s Takeaway: I enjoyed the back-and-forth that Brown had with the boys in Washington and developments in Berlin. It would have been difficult to read the story of the Olympics and not think about Berlin on the brink of WWII. Hearing about the propaganda and playacting that the Nazis did to prepare for a stage made it fascinating to hear about these boys going to Germany and seeing what they did. It helps you understand why people didn’t believe the stories coming out of Germany and why the world was slow to react to Hitler. It was a great balance for the book.

A really enjoyable read for those who like history or athletics. Five out of Five Stars.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Related Posts: 
The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown | Bob’s Books 
The Boys on the Boat, by Daniel James Brown | Reading on the Run 
Daniel James Brown, “The Boys on the Boat” | Book Group of One 
Daniel James Brown – The Boys on the Boat | Don’t Need a Diagram 

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WWW Wednesday, 2-December-2020

2 Dec

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: Is anyone surprised I haven’t touched Lateral Thinking by Edward de Bono? Because I’m not. As the weather gets nasty, maybe I’ll stay in and read during my lunch breaks.
My buddy and I meet tomorrow to talk about The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger so I’ll be pushing forward with this one again soon!
I started Golden Glow by Kaitlin Sandeno and Dan D’Addona over the weekend. Too early to say so far what I think, but I love a good sports biography so I’m just excited to be back to the topic.
I’ve finally started A Burnable Book by Bruce Holsinger! This is a long audiobook and I know I’m in for the long haul so I’m strapping down, determined to finish this during December to complete my reading challenge.

Recently finished: I finished Knitting Yarns by Ann Hood over the weekend and even had time to review it. My review was posted yesterday. I gave the book Three out of Five Stars.
I finished The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown just in time! It was a bit of a race but I was ready for our book club discussion on Monday. I’ll likely post a review and a book club reflection next week or soon after.

Reading next: It’s hard to say. Maybe it’s best that I don’t? I don’t have a plan and with me being so early in my books, it’s hard to predict what I’ll want to pick up next. I’ll stay quiet here this week.


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

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Challenge Update, November 2020

1 Dec

This month was slow. It wasn’t until I went to write this post that I realize how slow it was. You can look at my progress at any time on my challenge page. I’m also starting a monthly mailing list. You can sign up at the bottom of this post.

Books finished in November:

The Witch of Blackbird Pond // Elizabeth George Speare (4/5)
Knitting Yarns // Ann Hood (3/5)

And that’s it. Yikes. At least I’m caught up on reviews?

When Are You Reading? Challenge

11/12
I’m going to hold on to the win that I finished one more book for this challenge. I’ve got a plan in place to finish it up, I just have to execute. I see the end in sight!

Goodreads Challenge

55/55
Again, the silver lining to a slow month. This was just enough to get me through my annual reading challenge and I’m so glad to have finished!

Book of the Month

Not much of a choice this month, huh? I’m going to pick The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare. It was a quick and fun read and I think it would be perfect for middle school audiences to read and learn about early America.

Added to my TBR

I’m back up again at 47 books. I don’t remember adding so many but I took so few off that it’s no wonder I’m not moving fast.

  • Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline. I can’t be the only one who’s pumped for this book to come out, right? I can’t wait to read this one and I’m hoping Cline’s kept his page-turning pacing because it’s my favorite.
  • Malorie by Josh Malerman. I went to a virtual author event with Malerman and loved every second of it. It convinced me to add his new book to my list so I can revisit the terrifying world of Bird Box.
  • Why We Swim by Bonnie Tsui. With my love for the water, is it any wonder I added this? I saw the book on the Goodreads 2020 polls and added it right away.
  • Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. This is an upcoming book club selection that I’m getting excited about.
  • The Rebel Wife by Taylor M. Polites. I read an essay by this author that I really enjoyed and decided to give his fiction a try as well.

How are your challenges going so far? I hope you’re closing in on the end of a successful year. If you’re a fan of historical fiction, give my challenge a try next year and join the fun.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Sign Up for Monthly Newsletters

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Book Review: Knitting Yarns by Ann Hood

30 Nov

I was given this book as a Christmas gift years ago. I’m embarrassed about how long it’s taken to read it. Nothing like a global pandemic to get you through the stack on your shelf, am I right?

Cover image via Amazon

Knitting Yarns: Writers on Knitting edited by Ann Hood

Summary from Amazon:

Why does knitting occupy a place in the hearts of so many writers? What’s so magical and transformative about yarn and needles? How does knitting help us get through life-changing events and inspire joy? In Knitting Yarns, twenty-seven writers tell stories about how knitting healed, challenged, or helped them to grow. Barbara Kingsolver describes sheering a sheep for yarn. Elizabeth Berg writes about her frustration at failing to knit. Ann Patchett traces her life through her knitting, writing about the scarf that knits together the women she’s loved and lost. Knitting a Christmas gift for his blind aunt helped Andre Dubus III knit an understanding with his girlfriend. Kaylie Jones finds the woman who used knitting to help raise her in France and heals old wounds. Sue Grafton writes about her passion for knitting. Also included are five original knitting patterns created by Helen Bingham.

Poignant, funny, and moving, Knitting Yarns is sure to delight knitting enthusiasts and lovers of literature alike.

I’ve posted before about knitting so most of you likely aren’t surprised that I’d be given a book about knitters writing. This was a fun gift and I’m really touched by the friend who gave it to me. There were several authors in here that I’ve read before including Barbara Kingsolver and Ann Patchett. Most of the writers were new to me. I enjoyed the story by Taylor Polites so much that I added his novel to my TBR! I’m not usually a fan of collected short stories or essays but the short nature helped me while I was having trouble concentrating. 

I felt the writers portrayed their relationship with knitting in a very accurate way. Knitting is a very solitary act but it’s part of a community that grows as you want. The people you knit with are in it with you, but the people you knit for are the ones who really know you love them. I give knitted gifts a lot and it’s amazing to see how much that care and love affects people.

My favorite story in the collection was Knitting in Kathmandu by Jessi Hempel. It was such an emotional story about self-discovery and chance. I looked up Hempel’s biography in the back of the book and was sad to see she hadn’t published any novels. I really enjoyed her writing.

Ann Hood
Image via Amazon

Like many of the people in the story, I’m a ‘bad knitter.’ I make mostly blankets and other flat objects that don’t have to worry about double-pointed needles or measuring for fit. I want to make socks and a sweater eventually, but that seems far down the road now.

I was overwhelmed by the patterns in the book. I’m a bad knitter, these patterns seem overly complicated! I’ve only read a graph pattern once and it took me four tries to get it right. As nice as it is to have those patterns, I’m not sure I’ll ever use them. Even the one for the dog sweater.

A lot of these stories confirmed what I already know; knitting is something you do because you love. I make blankets for friends that I love, I’ve made coffee cozies for people I love, and I make scarves for people I want to stay warm through the winter. It seems I’m not alone.

Writer’s Takeaway: Some of the stories didn’t seem as put together as others and focused on unconnected bits of story rather than a single tale that involved knitting or did not. I found these harder to follow. It seemed that the writer was being included not because they had something meaningful to say, but because their name on the byline would help sell the book. I found that a bit disappointing. Many of the lesser-known authors had amazing tales to share.

I enjoyed this book and I’m thankful to the friend who bought it for me years ago. Three out of Five Stars.

Until next time, write on.

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Related Posts: 
Knitting Yarns | Flextiles 
Words on Knitting | Knit’n Needle 

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