The Reading Shelf

Join me on a tour of my book closet … erm … library. Every week – or other week, or whenever I remember to write one of these posts – we’ll take a look at another whack of books I may (or may not) have read.

Last time, we talked about the left side of this shelf:

library tour; home library; personal library

up here!

It’s about time I got around to the right side – and there are some good (non-fiction) books to explore there.

librayr tour; home library; personal library

right side

I call this my “high society” section. Belonging firmly to the hoi polloi, I love gossipy biographies of rich and/or aristocratic people. The gossipier, the better. (That’s hoi polloi speak for smutty, by the way.) In that regard, the first book on the left, Aristocrats (by Lawrence James, not to be confused with the book of the same title by Stella Tillyard) is a bit of a letdown. It’s pretty dry. And kind of superficial, in terms of the depth and comprehensiveness of its analysis. It’s a pretty high-level look at the British aristocracy as a whole, rather than any notable individuals or lineages. Honestly, it’s a bit boring.

Madness Under the Royal Palms takes us to a different continent, and specifically to the “royal” enclave of Palm Beach, playground of America’s richest folks, and home of plenty of interesting characters. I love books like this. It’s a sort of cross between The Great Gatsby and the works of Dominick Dunne. Privilege creates its own ecosystem, but there is always a dark underbelly hiding beneath the gilded facade – and this is the kind of book that likes to prod it. It’s definitely a guilty pleasure of a read, but well-written and researched at the same time.

In a similar vein, we have The Kennedy Women. Like Taylor Swift, I’m not immune to the allure of the Kennedy family. I’ve read plenty of books about the Kennedy men, but I actually find the women’s perspectives more intriguing – and they are vastly different perspectives at that. The book covers 5 generations, including the lives of Rose, Jackie, Ethel, Eunice, and Joan. It’s gossipy without being salacious, but generally pretty engrossing.

As much as I’m fascinated by the Kennedys, they don’t really hold a candle to the Mitfords. Sisters: The Saga of the Mitford Family is the story of one of Britain’s most notorious families, and its five famous, very different daughters. In a nutshell: Nancy was one of the best-selling novelists of her day; Diana was, in turn, one of England’s most admired socialites and then a social pariah; Jessica was a life-long Communist and social activist; Deborah became the Duchess of Devonshire; and Unity Valkyrie, born in Swastika, Alaska, became an Hitler groupie. You couldn’t write a story like this … and it’s all true. This is one of my favourite non-fiction books.

The author of Sisters also wrote The Churchills: In Love and War, the history of one of England’s greatest families. Although, understandably, the book spends a lot of time on Winston’s life and career, it does take a close look at entire lineage going back to the first Duke of Malborough, a military genius (hero of Waterloo), and his no less interesting wife, Sarah Churchill (long-term confidante of Queen Anne). Other generations of the Churchill family were also peppered with fascinating personalities, like Jennie Jerome (Winston’s mother) and Consuelo Vanderbilt (Winston’s cousin’s wife). This is another well-researched, well-written, very fascinating book – well worth the time investment (fair warning, it’s long).

Lastly, we have Churchill, which … I haven’t read. But! I did recently watch a bit of the HBO movie The Gathering Storm, which was quite good. It had a strong supporting cast (which makes for a fun game of spot-the-famous-actor), featuring everyone from Lena Headey (Queen Cersei!) to Linus Roache (who will forever be, to me, the son of Ken Barlow from Coronation Street) to Tom Hiddleston. I am not a Hiddle-loonie or whatever, but I know what the internet likes, and I’m not above exploiting it for click-bait traffic. So:

hiddlestone dancing gif

Alright, guys, I promise: next time, we’ll talk fiction – finally. In the meantime, tell me: what are you reading?

My Favourite Skirt … Is Back

Anthropologie Edme Esyllte Tulip Perspective skirt; Marc Jacobs Mag bag

Skirt, Anthropologie (thrifted); sweater, J. Crew Factory; scarf, Aldo; boots, Target; coat, MaxMara; bag, MbMJ (swap)

I think it’s safe to say that I’ve reverted back to my pants-averse self. Once the weekend rolls around, I want nothing more than to ditch my casual Friday jeans, and wear something – anything! – else. My default is usually a dress, but a spell of warm-ish weather (i.e. single negative digits, not double) seemed like a perfect occasion to dig out my favourite (summer) skirt. Layers upon layers later, I was good to go.

Anthropologie Edme Esyllte Tulip Perspective skirt; Marc Jacobs Mag bag


In the interests of full disclosure (and the prevention of frostbite), I don’t recommend wearing cotton skirts in the dead of winter (or November, in Edmonton) unless you plan to spend a minimal amount of time outdoors – like, say, the distance between the parking lot and your restaurant of choice. Yes, peeps, this was a date night outfit.

MaxMara Ragni coat

mah fancy coat

My husband and I have had a couple of late nights out recently, but they have been event-oriented, so it was nice to have a little one-on-one time at our favourite local sushi joint. Even if it meant having dinner at 4:30 like a couple of octogenarians. I’d play it cool, and call it a late lunch, but I’d be fooling no one.

Anthropologie Edme Esyllte Tulip Perspective skirt; Marc Jacobs Mag bag; MaxMara Ragni coat

my favourite skirt

That Equipment Shirt

Equipment Brett shirt; Equipment snake skin print blouse; Equipment windowpane print blouse

Shirt, Equipment; blazer, Talula (via Kijiji); jeans, Rachel Roy; shoes, Zara; bag, MbMJ (via eBay)

I mean, I don’t hate it. A blue-based print is never a bad thing in my books closet. I enjoyed the velvety feel of the silk, but was surprised by how staticky it got over the course of the day. Maybe the winter is to blame; the lack of humidity has been playing havoc with my skin and hair, so it only figures that it would do the same with my clothes. Anyway. The Equipment shirt: ‘s alright. Not as OMGamazing as the blogosphere would have you believe, but worth the $40 I paid.

Let’s talk about something more important: I wore sparkly shoes to work. Check it:

Equipment Brett shirt; Equipment snake skin print blouse; Equipment windowpane print blouse


In my defense, it was a Friday. I feel like I need a defense because I’m not entirely convinced that these are age-appropriate, or career-appropriate. How seriously would you take someone wearing Tinkerbell shoes? #hypotheticalquestion

Back to the Equipment shirt for a second. It does this weird thing in the sleeve/shoulder/armpit area. I’m not sure what the problem is, but me no likey. I’m generally not a fan of things that remind me of how un-toned my arms are these days. Boo.

Equipment Brett shirt; Equipment snake skin print blouse; Equipment windowpane print blouse

contrasting sleeves! with extra weird armpit/sleeve action!

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