Tuesday, March 26, 2024


WWW. WEDNESDAY asks three questions to prompt you to speak bookishly. To participate, and to see how other book lovers responded, click here

PS I no longer participate in WWW.WEDNESDAY via that link because her blog won't accept Blogger comments. I mention this only to save you the frustration I experienced trying to link up.

1. What are you currently reading? Murder in the Ball Park: A Nero Wolfe Mystery by Robert Goldsborough. I love baseball. I love Nero Wolfe's assistant, Archie Goodwin. So naturally, I am loving this book.

Though I am disappointed to report that, thus far, there is little baseball. Archie and his buddy, Saul Panzer, take an afternoon off to take in a ballgame. The story is set around 1950, when New York was home to three (3!) major league teams. Our heroes are settling in their seats to see the Giants play the Dodgers when a shot rings out. A local politician is assassinated, right there in the park!

It takes Nero Wolfe -- lazy genius that he is -- a while to decide to take the case. But once he does, the action picks up. Goldsborough does right by the characters created by Rex Stout, and I'm happy to spend time with them. 


2. What did you recently finish reading? Camera Girl: The Coming of Age of Jackie Bouvier Kennedy by Carl Sferrazza Anthony. JBKO was one of the most famous women of the 20th century and there's an almost limitless supply of books available about her. But this one is different. It focuses on a very specific period of her life -- 1949 to 1954, ages 20 to 24. This was a transformational time for her. She went from college student to working girl to bride, from her parents' home to her own apartment to a household with her husband, from private citizen to public figure.

She toured Europe in 1949, taking pictures along the way and even getting herself detained for hours by the Russians in Vienna. Honest to shit! The Soviets didn't believe her "story" -- that she was a well-heeled American girl on holiday -- because no US debutante would be that bold and have that expensive/complicated a camera. Yet that's how serious 20-year-old Jackie Bouvier was about experiencing and chronicling the world around her. It's amusing to realize that in little more than a decade, in 1961, she would be invited to Vienna and celebrated by international diplomats as America's glamorous First Lady.


Jackie Bouvier thought she wanted to work in fashion but realized early that she was more interested in people than in what they wore. So instead of an internship at Vogue in New York she took a job as "The Inquiring Camera Girl" at the Washington Herald. She loved that job and took it seriously, writing more than 600 columns before she quit when she married what's-his-name.


Before JFK she was engaged to a stockbroker named John Husted. It wasn't so much Husted as his lifestyle that she broke up with. While she wanted a home and children, she also wanted a husband she could help and partner with. She and Kennedy fell in love as much over her help with his speeches and her translation of French texts about Indochina as they did dinner and dancing. (And yes, the formidable Kennedy clan and its money helped her escape once and for all the warfare between her divorced parents, who treated her like a football.)

As I read this book, I thought of Caroline Kennedy. What a gift this volume is to her and her children! When I think of my own mom, a woman about a decade younger than Jackie, she always glossed over the short period between when school ended and her married life began. I wish I had a glimpse like this of how she made her choices during that time.

Researched, footnoted, nuanced and sensitive, I don't think I will read another book in 2024 that I will enjoy as much as I did this one.


3. What will you read next? I don't know.


Three Nice Things about Myself -- Day 25

My blogging buddy, Kwizgiver, wrote a post that really resonated with meShe detailed how self-care helped her helped her prevail during a (ridiculously) tough month. Her tips were very wise and so doable! So she has inspired me to take one and integrate it into my own life.

Since I can be a pretty harsh self-critic, this is the one I chose. I hope I can do this every day during March. By then it should be a habit, right?

Three nice things about myself -- March 25:

1) I got my geek on. I attended a free online forum at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library called, "The East Wing: Expanding First Ladies' Impact." I learned little new about JBKO herself, but the historians spoke highly of this biography of Pat Nixon, a woman I'm curious about. I like that I take the opportunity to indulge and learn more when I can.

2) I paid cash for my pedi. I stayed home last weekend and saved enough to pay cash at the salon. I wasn't going to charge it -- I have a credit card that I use to earn miles but I pay it off every month -- but still, it felt good to peel off $5's and $10's. I like myself for paying attention to money but not depriving myself.

3) I didn't want to, but I did it. I discovered that Rachel, my usual yoga instructor, is off this week and someone named Clare is teaching her classes. I am not very good at all  but I'm comfortable with Rachel! I have no reason to believe that Clare won't be an effective teacher and I liked myself for clicking "confirm," even though "cancel" was tempting.