What I Read Last Week

Last week, I read 8 books. But I have some really fun blog posts planned for 3 of the books (check back later this week for those entries), so I'm only going to tell you about 5 of them today.

1. I've always loved the movie Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House. It's like the movie version of a cocktail. No matter how bad of day I've had, or how stressed I might feel, watching it always takes the edge off my day.

I've probably watched this movie 30 times. So imagine my excitement when I realized that it was based on a novel.

Sadly, my excitement was short lived. This turned out to be one of those rare cases where the movie is better than the book. There were parts of the book that were funny and delightful. But there was way too much construction talk. I had to focus really hard while reading the construction parts because my brain didn't want to accept what I was reading as actual words. It was like when the grown-ups talk on Charlie Brown. "What's that you say?" "Whawhawhawhawha." It bored me senseless.

But there were also frequent mentions of how much the building materials cost, and since the book was written in 1946, it gave me a chance to use the inflation calculator. 

My sister sent me a link to a website that has an inflation calculator on it and now I'm obsessed with it. It has completely changed the way I watch I Love Lucy. Every time Lucy and Ricky start arguing about the cost of the latest hat she bought, I quickly pull up this website and find out how much the hat would cost in today's dollars. Back in my dark pre-inflation calculator days, I used to think Ricky was kind of a hot-head. . . too quick to anger. . . a little bit unreasonable. And then I watched an episode where Lucy bought a hat that cost $49. My handy-dandy inflation calculator tells me that this would cost $500 in today's economy (and it wasn't even that cute of a hat), and now I'm starting to think that I was too quick to judge Ricky. Maybe he had a point.

But I don't limit my inflation calculator play time to just calculating extravagant purchases made by TV characters from the 50's. No, I've also calculated my parents income from 1972. The amount of money my parents spent on the hospital stay from when I was born. And the cost of an orange in 1915 vs. today. You know, important stuff like that.

Here's a link to the inflation calculator in case your idea of a good time is a dorky as mine is: 



Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women's Literary Society is a novel that covers a lot of ground; feminism, segregation, interracial dating. It's also another novel that I got mid-way through before realizing that I've already read it. How does this keep happening to me? It's one thing to re-read old favorites. I love doing that! But I can't figure out how I can keep buying the same books, that I didn't even love the first time around, over and over again without realizing it. I seem to walk into a book store and instantly lose all ability to access the part of my brain where memory is stored.

This wasn't a book that's destined to become an all-time favorite (but knowing me I'll probably buy it again at least 3 times before I die), but I did like it. It had some really good elements; the tackling of difficult subjects, a group of quirky and interesting main characters who were all mis-fits who found each other and forged friendships. But the ending seemed rushed and very unrealistic. All in all, it was a solid read, but not fantastic.


This book has all the elements that normally make me love a book; it was written a long time ago, it features a family with a lot of kids, and it had a really cute cover. But what a disappointment. This book was so boring that I would have rather watched a high school film strip than read it. I kept forcing myself to keep reading because I was sure it had to get better. But my optimism betrayed me this time and the book ending up getting so boring that I had to watch TV while reading it just to get through it. On the plus side, the episode of Golden Girls that I watched while reading this was wonderful, so it wasn't a complete loss!


This is the ugliest book picture I've ever taken. But this book, written in 1966, is out of print and the only copy I could find that was in good condition had a dust jacket that was in terrible condition.

Penny Candy, by Jean Kerr, is a collection of humorous essays about life and motherhood. I read another book by Jean Kerr a few weeks ago, which was really good in the beginning and then kind of weird and boring in the middle and then great at the end. Unlike that one, this book was great all the way through. I loved it!

I felt an instant sense of solidarity with Kerr when she complained about riddle books. Some people say teething is the worst stage with children. Others argue that potty training is the worst phase. I say the worst phase of all is when kids discover riddle/joke books. For those of you who haven't experienced this horrifying event, allow me to enlighten you. One day you'll send your child off to school expecting them to learn a few things and have a great time at library day. And then they'll get off the school bus and inform you that they checked out a joke book from the school library. Then they'll follow you around for hours reading the worst jokes you've ever heard in your life. You'll try to be supportive. You'll try to muster up a laugh, but it will require every bit of acting skills you possess. Then you'll suddenly remember that laundry you need to fold. You'll sprint towards the laundry room, hoping your child's short legs won't be able to keep up. You'll be filled with hope that you've escaped from this hell you find yourself trapped in. But they'll follow you. Even if you try to take a shortcut through the kitchen in an effort to throw them off track. They'll follow you no matter where you go. As you fold laundry, they'll read bad joke after bad  joke and all the while you'll be thinking I miss my old life. And just when you think you're almost at the end of the book, there's a light at the end of this incredibly dark tunnel and you can finally start to see it, they'll inform you there's a bonus chapter. And then a little part of your soul will start to die.


Cheaper by the Dozen is a novel based on the true life story of Frank and Lillian Gilbreth. They were motion study experts in the early 1900's. They revolutionized the way factories operate, as well as how surgery is performed (therefore saving quite a few lives.) They were also the parents of 12 children.

I read this book for the first time when I was about 11 years old and I spent the next 7 years being convinced I wanted to have 12 kids (until I got a job working as a nanny and experienced the aforementioned joke book problem and realized I can't live through that experience 12 times.)

If the title of the book sounds familiar, it's because there was a movie made starring Steve Martin with the same title. Do not be fooled by the similar title (or by the horrifying fact that some copies of this  book actually have a picture from that movie on the cover) that movie has nothing to do with this book. The only similarity between this book and the Steve Martin movie is that they both feature a family with 12 kids. There was a movie made in the 50's that is actually based on this book, starring Myrna Loy and Clifton Webb, but I've never enjoyed it. The book is SO MUCH better than either of the movies.

I would love to hear about the books you've been reading lately. Tell me all about them in the comments section!

P.S. - I have no idea why part of this blog entry appears in a white box. And I have the technological skills of a senior citizen, so I think we're all just going to have to live with it!


  1. 8 books in a week is amazing. I didn't know there was a book to go with the movie Cheaper by the Dozen.

    1. Thanks! It's such a charming book. I highly recommend it!

  2. Watching TV while reading sounds like a talent!

    1. I can only pull it off when it's a boring book and a TV show I've watched before!

  3. It's a weird thing when the movie is better than the book! It seems wrong to say, but there are definitely a few instances where it's the truth. And I am so with you on I Love Lucy! Once I started really thinking about how much she spent on clothes and stuff, Ricky definitely had a right to be angry! And considering how many times she bought an entire apartment full of furniture...talk about expensive!

    1. Now you're making me want to watch the episode where Ricky told Lucy she could spend a few hundred dollars for new furniture for their house in Connecticut and she ended up spending several thousand. It's such a good episode!

  4. The snippet about kids reading a bad jokes book is hilarious. I'm glad that your reading is looking up. Eight books! I wish! :-)

  5. That movie looks great. We're actually in the process of building a house, so this might seem fitting.

    I need to check in on that inflation calculator. I can't believe that hat would cost $500 today! Sorry that the book didn't hold up as much as the movie did though. Great reviews! ~Aleen

    1. It was pretty startling when I realized just how much money Lucy was spending!
      Good luck with your house!

  6. The inflation calculator is very cool! I'd like to see that first movie you mentioned, comedies from that era are some of my favorites! And "Cheaper by the Dozen" is an old favorite of mine--I'm the oldest of 7 kids with parents who are both engineers and I have often found I could relate to some of their family stories, ha!

  7. I've never seen Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House and I love Cary Grant. Cool about the inflation calculator! Interesting selection of books that you read recently. I'm that way at the bookstore too, I forget what books I already have and double buy. I've done that a few times. Enjoy your weekend!


Post a Comment

Popular Posts