The Midsters Podcast

18. The Midsters Podcast Best Fall Reads!

September 01, 2022 Tish, Ellen and Felicia Season 1 Episode 18
The Midsters Podcast
18. The Midsters Podcast Best Fall Reads!
Show Notes Transcript

This week co-host Ellen shares her four book  picks to cozy up with this fall!  From a series with 21 books to two picks from her book group!  There’s something for everyone.

You can support the podcast and get all the Midsters Fall reads  books from this episode by clicking below:
Harlem Shuffle - Colson Whitehead
The Joy and Light Bus Company - Alexander McCall Smith
Hotel Nantucket - Elin Hildebrant
The Great Circle - Maggie Shipstead
The Spanish Daughter - Lorena Hughes

This week's obsessions:
Tish's obsession: Ugg Whitecap Plush Flannel Oversized Throw
Ellen's obsession: Mission Figs from her tree.  She makes crostini with goat cheese, honey, and a fig!  Yummy

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Ellen Gustafson:

Welcome back to the minster's Podcast. I'm Ellen and I'm here with my co host Tish, and we're excited to bring you our fall reads episode. As the weather cools down, there's nothing better than a hot or a great book to cozy up inside with. And as a passionate reader and Book Group diehard. For the fall, I'm going to share four books across mystery, thriller, adventure, historical and crime fiction. And one of our books is number 21 in an amazing series.

Tish Woods:

Well, Ellen, I've got to tell you, our summer reads, when we recorded that one that was one of our most listened to episodes. So that really speaks to the fact that everybody's always looking for a good recommendation. What's a good book, I always see like, you know, on my group chats with friends, or on my Facebook page, people are like, Hey, can anyone suggest a good read? So here we go with our fall selection. So I'm excited about that. And there's just something about spending a little bit more time inside. And, you know, just curling up on the couch and wrapping yourself up in a blanket, just having a great read just to yourself. But before we get all excited about your selections for our fall reads, I just wanted to jump into our weekly obsessions. I love this part of our podcast so much. So do I. I want to hear what is your obsession this week?

Ellen Gustafson:

Well, this week my obsession is my mission fig tree in my yard. Because it is just covered with hundreds of figs. And these are purple. They're they're like purple, the dark figs. And I love to just make a little Cristini toast. Put a little goat cheese some honey and like a half of fig a really ripe fig on them. It could that could be my dinner. It's so good on this

Tish Woods:

love it. Yeah, I'm obsessed with the red ones to those purple red ones. I've had another friend who has like a massive tree with the white ones, but they're just not as sweet. But I love those. Now, do you go and make like jams or dry some of them? Or do you do any of that? Are you just eating them fresh?

Ellen Gustafson:

You know, I've thought about it but I'm just eating them fresh. And I'd love to just quarter them and put them in a salad like an arugula salad or something. And I there's not that many for me to actually, you know, can or make a vegan Fig Jam. I've looked into a lot of recipes. Next step, maybe next year,

Tish Woods:

maybe next year when it's a little bit bigger. But yeah, if you have any extras, I would dry them. Because you can still do like a big brie with a couple slices, the dried ones that would be fabulous. But I wanted to talk about my obsession. Of course you do. No God, you know, it's this whole thing with fall and getting cozy and every fall. I like to get a new soft, snuggly blanket. And this year, the one I have ordered is one people are absolutely obsessed with and I can't wait for mine to arrive. But it's an Ugg blanket. You know, like the Ugg boots, will they have a blanket? And yes, it's a little bit of an investment. But it is one that people just Rave Rave, rave about, and it's supposed to wear like iron and stuff. So I'm super excited. That's my obsession, because I picture myself curled up on the couch with my Ugg blanket with my new fall read.

Ellen Gustafson:

Wow, that sounds so cozy. Who doesn't like a great blanket? And Ugg, I mean, if it's anything like the boots, I can picture you there on your couch. Tish just snuggled in with your dog next time. All right, we'll post a link to the blanket in our show notes. Absolutely. And I'll put a couple photos of my figs and some of the things I'm doing with them. So let's jump right in because we have four amazing books to talk about. But I wanted to start Tish with you know, we talked about summer reads for four months, three, four months ago, I can't believe it already. And you mentioned an audio book that you adored and you had been taken a couple road trips and it was called Finding Me by Viola Davis, the actress and I think what you really liked is that she narrated her own book, and because it was an autobiography, it was really meaningful. So I did take your recommend and I just thought it was amazing. It took me a few car drives, you know, I didn't go anyplace all that big but club volleyball season has started and I'm on the road again with my youngest kid. So Oh, it definitely was a great option. But did you read anything this summer? Before we jump into my choices,

Tish Woods:

you know, I'm just getting started with mine. And before I get into that, I just, I wanted to like go back to our summer reads again, after you had given so many great options, we had the best picture come in from one of our college friends, Linda, and it just had her sitting there. It wasn't even you couldn't even see her face with a glass of wine reading her gentlemen of Moscow. And we just, I just got me excited, because I knew you had inspired her to read that book. And she was loving it. And she just sent us that little photo just to say, Hey, I heard you. And I'm enjoying that read. So we'll have to post that picture. But I loved it. Yeah, she's a big reader too. So she's always looking for those good recommendations. But when I was on a recent trip up to drop my youngest son off, Liam, I was staying with a friend of ours from college, Karen. And she gave me before I left the Spanish Daughter by Lorna Hughes. And it is a murder mystery. And it's very interesting. So I'm just getting started on it. I am not your avid reader, like you are Ellen, but I do like a good read. So I really am just getting into this. And it's really about a tale about sibling rivalries. And what's interesting too, is it's about gender bending impersonation, as they call it, she actually takes on the persona of her husband, because somebody attempted to kill her. And so she's, you know, kind of hiding out in his persona, to keep herself safe. But it also includes chocolate and hey, with chocolate I am all in, so it's about a, she's traveling from her home in Sevilla Spain, to Ecuador, to claim an inheritance that this is on this trip that her husband gets murdered. And she was actually the target. So she's been just, you know, like I said, disguising herself on this journey. So I'm really excited to see how this unfolds. Because I've gotten through just the first little bit and it talks about how the she was, she was certain people were going to see that it wasn't him that it was, you know, she was a woman, and she was getting away with it. So I can imagine that is kind of enticing. Sounds really become somebody else.

Ellen Gustafson:

It sounds great. We'll definitely put a link to the Spanish Daughter in there. Um, great recommendation from our friend Karen, one of our Trinity Tribe. Yay. Well, you know, my book group takes the summer off. Tish, which is nice. I'm not sure you know that. And during the summer, I'd like to go to movies with my kids and with my girlfriends. Um, and I did see a few good movies, and one was about an adaptation of a book we read Where the Crawdads Sing. I really enjoyed the movie. I know you read that book, too. Did you see it with your friends?

Tish Woods:

Yes, we have this big group that has been recently last few months going. Like there's like a dozen of us that have been going to see movies together, which is kind of fun. Yeah, it's not something that you usually do as adults. But we've seen a couple and the last one we saw was where the crawdads sang. And oh my gosh, it like for me and I had read the book, I absolutely loved it. The you know, the way the story unfolds, the way they told it on the screen, I think really honored the book itself. But what was really cool about that is there were people in our group that had never read the book and they loved the movie just as much so it was great. And to me there's something about a story that isn't like it wasn't packed with like adventure and stuff. It was really about character development, and really kind of showing off the raw beauty that the lowlands in you know, down in the Carolinas have so for me because it's kind of in my section of the world I'm not I'm not down at the the beach or anything but I'm not far from there. And um, they're often and so yeah, there's just something just rugged and wild about you know, those low lands so yeah, so I absolutely loved it.

Ellen Gustafson:

That's so good to hear. And I especially love when a movie is kind of in my area. It does give it kind of that little bit more specialness and you're right, the beauty just the natural beauty in that movie was amazing. And it did make me want to come and check out more of, as you say, the low lands. I also saw another movie this summer was kind of a quirky movie, called Mrs. Harris goes to Paris. And it was very sweet. It was based on a book from 1958. But it's about a British maid whose husband died in the war. And she sees a beautiful Dior gown at someone's house, she's cleaning. And at that point, you know, they only had couture that very upper class lady's got to buy. And she comes into some money through, I think it was called a war pension. And she heads off to Paris to get herself a Dior gown. And it is comedy, it is drama. But it's also you know, sad and in a way, but she ends up just in the mix of it with Dior himself, and with some people, you know, high up in the Dior organization. And it was really great. Now I haven't I haven't read the book. But again, it was an adaptation of a book that was pretty well known. And I super enjoyed it.

Tish Woods:

Well, I find that kind of curious, because, well, Mrs. Harris goes to Paris. But now Miss Ellen's going to Paris. So I'm thinking maybe you should get yourself a nice Dior gown on something in the middle of between your size and my size, because maybe I can share.

Ellen Gustafson:

Fine, stretchy, you know,

Tish Woods:

there's something I just liked this quest, kind of an adventure. So I'm all about that, like, I will go and see something based on like one thing. So the idea of going to Paris with this, this quest, this getting this dress and, and having the whole adventure revolve around that. That's really something that always excites me. And you know, we all need that special gown to go create that special moment in life. So I think I'm challenging you on that when you go to Paris, you need to have that moment. I don't know if it's hat. I don't know an umbrella something unique Paris moment

Ellen Gustafson:

to it could be an umbrella because I think it's going to rain a lot. Unfortunately. I'll report back

Tish Woods:

maybe a marvelous trench coat.

Ellen Gustafson:

I'll report back on my Mrs. Harris in Paris moment on one of our next podcasts for sure. You know, the other thing I really enjoyed to Tish, and I don't know if you do this, but I go to a bookstore here in Marin called book passage. And they have so many authors come through. And they speak kind of about the origin or their book, or they're paired with somebody who's kind of an interesting, you know, co host that questions them. And I'm gonna go see an author called Mark Nepo, in a few weeks, and he has a book coming out about adversity called Surviving the Storm, the books not out yet. So it can't be on my list of four. But a friend gave me a book by him a few years ago on creativity, it was so interesting, and it really got me thinking and moving forward. So I'm excited to go see him. Do you ever go to author events? You know,

Tish Woods:

I've never done that. So an author event like that Mark Nepo is going to be doing? Well, he read excerpts from his upcoming book. Okay, so yeah, it kind of like little teasers and stuff to get to get you motivated on going. But you know, what, I think I'm going to seek one of those out, I'm going to look, cuz I know, in the Charlotte area, there has to be tons of those are just even to support like, you know, local local authors, you know, in their, in their quest. So, I think, you know, that's kind of a thing I'm think I need to seek out this fall is to find one of those and give it a read.

Ellen Gustafson:

Yeah, I challenge you to do that and come back and share with us on on that. You know, I think it's, it's a fun thing to go do. And a lot of times you get signed book by the author, and out here, sometimes they're chefs, you know, and they have the event and you get to meet you know, a celebrity chef who's come out with a cookbook and have them sign it. Yeah. So you know, it doesn't have to be just a work of fiction, a lot of different types of, of authors come through here. But, you know, my book groups back together after our summer break, and I'm excited about the new book we're reading. It's called the great circle by either Margaret or Maggie Shipstead. And she was a Booker Prize finalist, which is a big award in literature. And those books are usually really great. So this is the first time I'm reading a book by her and I love it.

Tish Woods:

Oh, okay. So drumroll, please. I want to know what are your four selections for our fall reads?

Ellen Gustafson:

All righty. Well done. The first book probably is no surprise, it's The Great Circle. By Maggie Shipstead, I am loving this book. And this is historical fiction or adventure fiction. And this is one of those books where there's two stories in different times that are kind of parallel, but yet connected. So it's the story of a daredevil, female Aviatrix. I think that's what you call a female aviator not know that that was good to know. It's good to know Marian Graves and she's living life her own way, even though her story takes place in like the early 1900s through the 1950s. And she wants to take an epic trip. She's a young girl, in not too old, circumnavigating the globe from the north to south pole. But her journey starts, really, she's a twin, and she's on a ship that goes down. And her father was the captain and he abandons the ship to get his twins off, and the mom dies. And her dad goes off to jail. So she's really raised out in Missoula, Montana, by this uncle, who just lets her and her brother roam wild, she learns to fly. But what she finds out as she is fearless, absolutely fearless. And she's really constrained by what women can do in that time in the 20s, and 30s, and 40s. But it's woven with a modern day story of an actress in Hollywood, who's been who's been cast to play Marian in a movie. And she's this actress is wanting to reinvent herself to she had been stuck in a movie franchise and kind of pigeon holedT and made some bad love choices. So she's looking to reinvent herself. So it's such a great story. So much history in both of the stories is so well written that you feel like you're there. So I'm gonna say, Everybody run out and read he Great Circle.

Tish Woods:

What I like about what you're talking about this particular story is, you know, you said oh, she was challenged on, you know, going out and kind of being her own person. But I think even now, Midsters are challenged by that, because, you know, we've been in these roles for so long of being mom, wife, you know, daughter or whatever. And, and to break out of that at any time, you know, maybe more so at that time, of course. But even, you know, maybe this book can inspire some of our listeners who've always wanted to travel and kind of push those boundaries of who they are. Maybe this is the book that will inspire them to do that as well, and carry out what is our second book.

Ellen Gustafson:

The second book, they categorize it as a crime novel, but I would categorize it as just a family saga. And it's called the Harlem Shuffle. And it's out in paperback, I always like to suggest some things that are out in paperback for our listeners. And it's by Colson Whitehead. My book group read the Nickel Boys, which is a book that came out several years ago by him, which was unbelievable. So we had to jump on this book earlier this year at the Harlem Shuffle. So it's kind of his follow up book, you cannot put this book down. It's about crime. It's about family. It's about Harlem in the 1950s. And 60s, which, you know, is one of those places, it's just always intriguing, no matter what century or era they're writing about. And the main character, Ray has a furniture business he's in, he's struggling, and he has a lot of pressures as a husband and a father. And his family kind of has a little history of some sketchy business, you know, working for crime bosses. And so there's a lot of gray areas in this book, but he wants to be clean and straight, and just be the best man he can be. But some relatives or keep pulling him back into some gray areas, but it's so entertaining. On one hand, like I said, it's a crime novel. And it has these great characters like Pepper the Vet or the murderous purple suited Joe, Miami or Miami, Joe, I think it is, but it's really about race, and history of Harlem and family at the same time, so I highly recommend it. And, you know, it makes me think of the Harlem Shuffle the dance every once in a while too. So Well,

Tish Woods:

it's funny because you know, Harlem now Harlem is like trendy, you know, you know, row homes. So it's much different place now, but at that time, Harlem, you know, just was that edgy, you never knew what was going to happen kind of place. And I do think that the title the reference in the title to the line downs has that underlining meaning Have you got to, you know, ebb and flow through that type of environment like, yes, he's trying to stay, you know, as that good, right? Righteous, you know, law abiding person. But he's in an environment where it's more acceptable to do things a little outside of that, and he keeps getting pulled back in. So all I can see is him dancing and moving through those two different worlds. You know, as he gets tempted from his family and friends to to, you know, to take more pragmatic, hey, this is the way it happens here. So, yeah, I just kind of love to get a little taste of you know, what life really was in that edgy Harlem time. Okay, so let's go on, what is your third book selection?

Ellen Gustafson:

Well, my third book selection is more than just one book. And I alluded to this when we opened up, it's a series and the 21st book came out, and I read it earlier this year, but the series is called The Number One Ladies Detective Agency by a gentleman called Alexander McCall Smith. And this latest 21st book is called The Joy and Light Bus Company. And okay, this series came out in I think, 2008. So it has been over a decade of knowing these characters in these books. And I think that the two main characters are named Precious and Grace, and the books take place in Botswana. And so they're like, good friends to me, after all this time. And Precious is a woman who became the first female detective in Botswana. And she names her agency, The Lady's Number One Detective Agency, because she's the first right, so a trailblazing woman, once again, a powerful, confident woman. And there's so much good in these books that they follow their Precious her courtship with her soon to be husband, and she takes on originally assistant Grace, who becomes her co detective. And they really showcase all of the issues that are in Botswana today, just like all of the issues that would be in any country. And they really, really give you a good history of Botswana. And the way they do it is it they make you want to be their friends and hang out at The Ladies. Number One. So I think what's really great about this book, too, is that it's all about female friendships, and women and how women can help women, um, through The Ladies, Number One Agency, they really help out a lot of women. And the way the books are written are they're very tender, I would have to say, and you get to know a lot of what's in Precious' head, our main character. And I just have to give a shout out that I did get to see Alexander McCall Smith years ago, right when these books are coming out at a book event at one of my local bookstores. And I think it was interesting to see how a man would write about primarily women female characters, and whether or not he's able to capture them. And I think he's just done a wonderful job with this series. Of course, Botswana is on my bucket list. Um, for sure. So, I'm going to say, you know, if you haven't started this series, most of them are available at the library, or on, you know, in paperback by this time, or you probably have a friend who owns a lot of them that would be happy to pass them on.

Tish Woods:

Well, I have not read anything from his series. But you know, it's, it's funny, because so many times when I do read a book, by the end, I almost start reading slower and slower as I go, because I don't want to leave the characters become so attached. So a series like this would probably be perfect for me. I may have to pick that up. This uh, when when you got to meet this author, when you got to meet Alexandra McCall Smith, were you able to ask him questions?

Ellen Gustafson:

I wasn't but he was not when he came through. He wasn't, you know, big, because this hadn't quite, quite happened. But people in the audience were at that point. I didn't have any questions for him. And I believe he signed my book The like the first one of the series, and he has a few other series. And he I believe, who was either born in Africa or spent a great deal of his life in Africa, although he's not African. of origin,

Tish Woods:

but I know I find that I find it interesting that he chose to write stories in the voice of a woman. And how how challenging that must be to really capture that female friendship dynamic, that I think, you know, I think eludes a lot of men on because it's such a powerful friendship. You know, friendship between women is incredibly powerful and we always speak to it, you know, in our podcast here, but interesting that he would. So effectively write about those friendships. That's amazing to me. Yeah. All right. So I want to hear out what is our final book of our fall reads?

Ellen Gustafson:

Okay, well, when we did our summer reads our other co host family, she mentioned, Ellen Hildebrand books and that her daughter had gotten her into reading these and that she was going to read the latest one, she was going to start with The Hotel Nantucket. So this is a romance book, summer beach read book but you can take it right into fall ladies if you have not read it. As I said, the author is Ellen Hildebrand and I am wrapping it up with a romance novel today. So I have always wanted to go to Nantucket, and every one of her books makes you yearn for a summer on Nantucket for those sunny blue skies. And I think that you guys would all enjoy this book. I went through it. I'd have to say in a weekend, I think I was out on my deck like Fitz is saying wrap up in the couch in the fall. But it's about a scandal and a swanky hotel. And it's also part ghost story. And it's like an ode to the history of this hotel in Nantucket. So on one hand, the hotel staff, they're hiding secrets, and there had been some mystery some maid had died back in the 20s when this hotel was a 1920s swanky hotel. So in the book, you're dealing with a modern day people and the ghost who's yearning for someone to discover her and almost like set her free from being stuck at the hotel. So it was this 19 year old chambermaid Grace Hadley who, who was killed in a fire back then. It's a great read. It's an easy read. It has all of the details of Nantucket. Because there's a young girl who's a Nantucket you know diehard who gets the job of managing the new revived hotel and you she has a romance I'm not going to give away I don't think I was going to give away who her romance is with but Ellen Hildebrand shares every great place to have coffee to buy corn out on the road to have a great meal and oysters and watch the sunset. And what what beach to go to. So it's only how a local could share a place with you share Nantucket. And that main character, Lizbet she has a hot romance and it takes you through right through the book. So I'm now putting Nantucket on the top of my my bucket list.

Tish Woods:

Now I haven't been to Nantucket I've been as far as Martha's Vineyard, but I never got that ferry over but I say we pack our bags and take the next Cape Air Ferry over to the Gray Lady.

Ellen Gustafson:

I am with you. But why are you calling it the Gray Lady? I don't know anything about Nantucket obviously.

Tish Woods:

Well, the Gray Lady is a nickname for Nantucket because the sailors had dubbed it because of the fogs that will sweep in so quickly on to Nantucket. So I just picture us taking a great fall girl's trip to Nantucket and just having all our beach chairs on the beach and it's windy and foggy and we're sharing wine around a little fire. I mean to me that just sounds like absolute magic.

Ellen Gustafson:

Oh, it does cozy blankets seem to be a theme for us. Right?

Tish Woods:

Exactly. I'm going to be bringing my Ugg with me. Okay, so to wrap it up here, even though, you know, you could be more like me, not a huge reader. And you just need that one really great foul book. Or maybe you're more like Ellen where you can't get enough of these great books. So hopefully you take one of her suggestions and just kind of roll with it. You know, find that one book that just sweeps you away to places like Ecuador or Harlem or out to the Gray Lady, and just take some time to lose yourself and just immerse yourself in that great fall read.

Ellen Gustafson:

Yes, and we'll put link Next to all the books we talked about today in the show notes and have a great fall reading Midsters till next time

Tish Woods:

have a great fall read Midsters till next time