Links I love and what’s on my nightstand.

My favorite finds from around the web:

Science says there are 4 kinds of introversion. What’s yours? (Thinking introversion, all the way.)

Judi Dench’s advice to her 30-year-old self, from coping with fear to subverting the norm. “Her career, spanning six decades, is so multifarious she has cultivated an ability to take on an almost impossible range of characters. She unfailingly and wholly inhabits a role, leaving you certain no-one else would have even touched the sides. Good going for someone once told by a producer she could never make it in films because her face ‘isn’t properly arranged.’ ”

What it’s like to go without complaining for a month. “When we complain, our brains release stress hormones that harm neural connections in areas used for problem solving and other cognitive functions. This also happens when we listen to someone else moan and groan. It’s as bad as secondhand smoke.”

27 incredibly clever DIYs all book lovers will appreciate. Definitely #6 and #8, but I want a real #11.

What I’m reading this week:

All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot. Finally. 

Evening Class by Maeve Binchy. This is my first Binchy and I’m thinking about abandoning it. Guidance appreciated.

Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans.

The 3 things you need to have people over. When it comes to hospital, only 3 things are essential!

On the blog:

The three things you need to have people over, and Shauna Niequist’s new book.

Books that are better together (and four literary flights to get you started.

Cooking lessons in a box.

• Reminder: the next Quick Lit is on Sunday, March 15.

Have a great weekend!


Leave A Comment
  1. Kelly says:

    I have discovered that Maeve Binchy’s works are more enjoyable when listened to audibly. I abandoned one of her ebooks last week due to lack of interest.

  2. JoLyn says:

    I loved Evening Class. It was my first Binchy and led me to several others I like. I think the problem in the beginning is it is told as separate stories of several different characters. It might be a bit jarring when the character changes. But. If you hang in there, you will see them all come together in what I felt was a super satisfying way. I say give it a little longer!

  3. Amy says:

    Concur. Hang in there with Evening Class. I wasn’t thrilled with that book, nor Tara Road, the follow-up with a few of the characters sprinkled in. But Scarlet Feather, the “third” in the “series” is a masterpiece, in my opinion.

    For me, Evening Class starts to come together with the mother/daughter who have been raised as sisters, and it really comes together at the end, when everyone’s on the trip in Italy.

    Also agreed that you might enjoy the audiobook a bit more.

  4. Ana says:

    Hang in there, or abandon it but don’t abandon Binchy. Based on the types of books you recommend, I really think you would like some of her greats (agree witih Scarlet Feather, one of my favorites, I’ve read & re-read it so many times)

  5. Amber says:

    If you like Herriot and you haven’t read The Irish Country Doctor Series by Patrick Taylor, you must!
    So enjoyable.

  6. Ana says:

    Oh, and I really like the article about complaining. I need to try this. I keep harping at my kids to stop whining and complaining, yet, they probably learned it from me.

  7. Katia says:

    I love the DIY ideas for book lover! My favourites are # 6, 14, 15, and 22 (I must ask my husband to make the shelf for me). I’m not sure how I feel about the introversion type quiz. The result I got is ‘thinking’ introversion, but I can also relate to all the other types.

    As for Maeve Binchy, her books are not serious, by any means. I often think of her work as ‘literary candy.’ Tara Road and Scarlet Feather are my favourite books by her, but her writing is far from being my favourite.

  8. Shannon says:

    Great links! I liked the article about not complaining! On a less important note, where did you get your bag in the picture? 🙂

  9. Tim says:

    All Creatures Great and Small is wonderful. I think I’ve read every book he wrote in that series of vignettes of the veterinary life. There are some scenes that had me laughing out loud, some that choked me up, and others that warmed my heart.

  10. Grace says:

    Those 4 types of introversion were really interesting! I also got thinking introvert. I’m also very excited to hear your thoughts on Searching for Sunday.

      • Anna says:

        I think you can have characteristics from all of them. I could relate somewhat to social introvert & restrained introvert, but I was pretty sure I would be a thinking introvert (which is what the quiz said.)

  11. Tiffany says:

    I did a complaint-free challenge quite a few years ago. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done. I was in a terrible habit. Such a terrible habit that it took me four months to go 28 straight days without complaining. I counted both verbal complaints and thoughts, in an effort to take control of my thought life too. I’m not exaggerating when I say that was life changing.

  12. Lisa S says:

    Glad to see you’re finally reading All Creatures. I think I’ve read it about 10 times. Because the chapters almost stand alone I always think it’s nice when you just want to read a little bit. I always end up reading the whole thing, though. 🙂

  13. Angela Mills says:

    I like some of Binchy’s stuff, but Evening Class wasn’t one I enjoyed. I remembering liking Quentins and Scarlett Feather, but that was a loooooong time ago.

    I’m a thinking Introvert 🙂

  14. Anung V says:

    I tried the quiz and got Thinking Introvert and its pretty accurate. I really love that they are exploring introversion more and less like an affliction. I also need to take the article about complaining to heart. Life would be fuller with less complaining.

    • Jennifer G says:

      I see you’ve many Binchy comments so this is really in support of everything everyone else has said. Her older books are a little more focused and you “learn” her voice. Plus Circle of Friends has a cute movie that fits the book well.

  15. Miriam B says:

    I got “Social Introversion” when I took that quiz. No real surprise there. The complaining article was convicting; I may try to work on for the month of April.
    I tried reading a Binchy book and couldn’t make it past the first chapter. It felt like it just wasn’t for me.

  16. Sarah R says:

    Thank you for the awesome links!

    I know the struggle in deciding to abandon a book. I just got The Secret Place by Tana French and couldn’t get into it. I didn’t care about the characters, and I had to google the Irish slang (I’m a nerd!) I skimmed until the end for closure. Does that count toward by “Books Read” goal? 🙂

    Can’t wait to hear what you think about Searching for Sunday!

  17. Victoria says:

    I have yet to read any of Maeve Binchy’s full length works, but I did very much enjoy her collections of short stories, specifically ‘This Year it Will Be Different’ and ‘The Return Journey’. Read a few at a time rather than gobbling the whole thing up at once (I found they could get a bit tedious if read that way, so this keeps them fresh and a more enjoyable experience, to my mind)

    I grew up reading James Herriot! Squee!

  18. Kate says:

    I haven’t read Evening Class but I do think a lot of Binchy’s books are a lot better than others — my personal favorite is by far Circle of Friends and I also really enjoyed A Week in Winter. Try those before you give up on her as an author!

  19. Kathy says:

    You must read Circle of Friends as your first Maeve Binchy. Just finished Chestnut Street published posthumously. Very good collection of short stories. James Herriot books are full of memorable characters. Follow up by watching the show on DVD. I enjoy your blog very much.

  20. Tristan says:

    Binchy’s books vary wildly in quality, in my opinion. I don’t think Evening Class is one of the best, although it is certainly not the worst either.
    You might try Circle of Friends, or Scarlet Feather, I think they hold together the best, and are definitely worth reading.

  21. Becky says:

    I’ve read lots of Binchy and Evening Class isn’t where to begin. Try Circle of Friends (the book goes differently than the movie), The Lilac Bus, or The Copper Beech.

  22. English Carrie says:

    The only Binchy I’ve read is Circle of Friends. I loved it; the characters are well-drawn and I liked that there are real, believable consequences to people’s decisions / actions. Also, as other people have said, the ending of the book is so much better and more ‘truthful’ than the film.

  23. Kimberly says:

    When I started reading Binchy, I preferred her more standard novels to the ones like Evening Class where each chapter is about a different character. She’s a fun writer and after I got used to her style I liked the books like Evening Class, The Lilac Bus, etc…, but before branching out into those, I enjoyed Scarlet Feather, Circle of Friends, and Tara Road (I believe the movie The Holiday was based on that book) like several others have mentioned. But, my favorite (I’m not sure why) hasn’t been mentioned yet: The Glass Lake.

    On another note, even if you don’t enjoy Binchy’s episodic novels, you should consider reading Alexander McCall Smith’s 44 Scotland Street series. You could easily begin with any book in the series, but if you start from the beginning, you’ll get to enjoy the evolution of the characters, especially my fave: Bertie! The series is absolutely delightful!

  24. Leigh Kramer says:

    Binchy is hit or miss for me. I don’t remember much about Evening Class but I loved Circle of Friends, Tara Road, and a few others. I say stick it out because she usually pulls it all together for at least 3 stars from me.

    Also: thinking introverts FTW!

  25. Leann says:

    I love Maeve Binchy…. Circle of Friends is one of her best and I happened to read it first. She is wordy and gives a great deal of detail but her stories are intricate and wonderful. I would either keep going or pick up another one of her books. I have not read Evening Class but don’t ditch her just yet. I have seen her interviewed in videos before and she is a hoot and a fabulous storyteller! I love her Irish lilt… 🙂

  26. Anna says:

    I haven’t read Evening Class yet, but have enjoyed the other Binchy books that I’ve read. Sometimes, it takes me a little to get into it, and sometimes I’m just not in the right mood. Then I come back to it later. I enjoy the characters in her books. 🙂
    Also, I’m a thinking introvert, too. I’m suspecting that my 2 oldest children (14 & 11) are introverts, too.

  27. Leslie says:

    Circle of Friends, Echoes, The Glass Lake – all are SO good! She is one of my favorite writers and I re-read these three all the time. I can pick up anywhere in the book and just start reading. I really liked Tara Road and Scarlett Feather as well, but they don’t compare to her earlier books. And her later ones – Heart and Soul? – just never lived up to the others.

  28. Victoria says:

    I’ve found that with Binchy I love a book or I hate it. Minding Frankie was my intro to her. I LOVED it, but since then I’ve read several others (Evening Class being one of them) and abandonded them. I did finish two besides Minding Frankie…And I want to read A Week In Winter next winter!

  29. Wendy says:

    I have a soft spot for all things Irish, including Maeve Binchy. I think the first one I read was Circle of Friends, while I was studying abroad there in college (which made it that much more fun!). That and Tara Road are my favorites, I think. It’s been a while since I’ve read anything by her. Can’t wait to find out what you decide to do about Binchy — I realize that I’m biased and she just might not be for everyone!

  30. Elizabeth says:

    My Binchy recommendation is to start with her earlier books. I have gobbled up everything by her because of loving her early books. I’d even recommend reading them in the order that they were originally published.

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