Cup of Tea and a Blog

Welcome to my spot for musing about all things tea. Here you'll read reviews of quality teas, click through comments on tea rooms and shops I've visited, and see photos of leaves and cups. You’ll also find things I might talk about over a cup of tea, like philosophy, literature, current events, or fun ways to pass the time.

Location: Pacific Northwest, United States

Please see my current blog at

12 September 2005

Cindy’s Stack of Books, Sept. 2005

At any given time, there are several books lying around my house in various stages of being read. Some are waiting on the front stairs for return to the library, some I’m just starting, and others I read in small bits with chunks of time between chapters to think about things. Almost always, at least one book is from the mystery genre. There is also always a book near bed for me to read before falling asleep. Other than that book for bedtime, I usually read with a pot of tea close at hand.

Here is my current stack of books. I’ve linked to the page for each one, so you can read excerpts and see the cover on their web site (if you’re interested).

The Jane Austen Book Club, by Karen Joy Fowler. This was a quick supermarket grab before traveling to New Mexico – picked up granola bars, bottled water, and a book for the plane trip. Because it was sold next to a bunch of cheesy romance novels, I had relatively low expectations for this book. I was instead quite happy to have found a pleasant novel. Fowler is obviously well-versed in the lore and literature of Austen, and she winds her own narratives in and out of the themes of Austen’s novels. The book opens with the line, “Each of us has a private Austen, “ then goes on to tell the story of an interesting group of readers.

Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir, by Azar Nafisi, which is my one-chapter-then-a-break-for-thinking book. This was recommended by a good friend who teaches it in her Women’s Literature class. I’m just starting and already know this is going to be a good one. It is more lighthearted and hopeful than you might expect, and it has many thought-provoking descriptions and stories in just the first chapter. Description from the backcover:

Every Thursday morning for two years in the Islamic Republic of Iran, a bold and inspired teacher. . . secretly gathered seven of her most committed female students to read forbidden Western classics. As Islamic morality squads staged arbitrary raids in Tehran, fundamentalists seized hold of the universities, and a blind censor stifled artistic expression, the girls in Azar Nafisi’s living room risked removing their veils and immersed themselves in the worlds of Jane Austen, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Henry James, and Vladimir Nabokov.

As I write this, it occurs to me that I’ve seen some Austen movies and read a few Austen-themed books lately, but it’s been a couple of years since reading an actual Jane Austen novel. Time for me to dig out my dog-eared copies of Pride & Prejudice, Persuasion, and Emma. It must be Autumn, if my mind is turning toward 18th Century British writers (Austen, Bronte, and Gaskell, here I come!).

The Sunday Philosophy Club, the first book in Alexander McCall Smith’s new series about Isabel Dalhousie, editor of an Ethics journal and an occasional sleuth. This is by my bed, since McCall Smith's books are often a string of shorter stories and events (although the new series doesn’t seem to do this quite as much as his No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency books). I’m just beginning, so no real thoughts on the new series other than looking forward to reading the books. You can read a bit more about the book in this article: Tea and Philosophy. Among other quotes from the author: "Readers are always asking if I can write more about tea, more about cake. I think it's because the scenes with food are really about fellowship, and we can all relate to that."

Anne Perry’s Shoulder the Sky, book 2 of her WWI series. I love Perry’s Victorian mysteries and was happy to find her new mystery series that is set just before and during WWI. I found the first book to be an edge-of-your-seat mystery with a strong sense of history, and I’m looking forward to losing myself in this one. Tea makes its appearance early on, this time against the bleak setting of Flanders Field:

Sam had brewed tea in his Dixie can, which was carefully propped over a lighted candle. He had a packet of chocolate biscuits that had come out of a parcel from home. He poured the tea, half for Joseph, and divided the biscuits.
“Thanks.” Joseph took it and bit into one of the biscuits. It was crisp and sweet. It almost made up for the taste of the tea made with brackish water and cooked in an all-purpose can. At least it was hot.

I can never read Perry without remembering one of my favorite films, Peter Jackson’s Heavenly Creatures. The young Kate Winslet plays Anne Perry (then Juliet Hulme) as a teenage girl. There is a bit of guilty pleasure involved when reading a murder whodunit written by a woman who was once convicted of murder herself (certainly she has insights that most authors don’t have), but mostly I read her books because she’s a darn good writer of historical mystery novels. It wasn’t until years after I’d seen the movie (and was already reading Perry’s books), that I found out about the Parker-Hulme murder case. It certainly adds a new dimension to things.

That’s all for this time. Let me know your thoughts on any of these books, and please do feel free to recommend others to add to my stack! :)


Anonymous Winnie said...

Hi Cindy - Although it may not look like it, there are people who read your blog. ME! I met you in Portland earlier this year and bugged you about not being invited to a fun tea day with the others from that day. I am still here, reading and enjoying all of your posts on the blog as well as teamail.
I have been enjoying mostly any and all iced teas I can make with teas I purchased in the past year or so that I should have tried. But I bought so many from so many places that I lost track. Now, a lot of them are not of the best quality and I am trying to drink up the rest so I can get into the new and wonderful teas I have found from you and the wonderful Holly. Because of you, I am loving oolongs, as well as Yunnans and an occasional Lapsang when I remember to include this.
My daughter is on her way to Japan to study for a year so no doubt she will be sending tea to me, or at least buying it to give to me when she returns. She very much wants to get a class in the Japanese tea ceremony. I hope so!
Anyway, I am still reading, so please keep blogging. I have 7 blogs that I read. I am loving yours.

8:45 PM  
Anonymous Christine said...

Yay for books! I'll have to get a copy of The Jane Austen Book Club. Sounds like something I could relate to. And Anne Perry is one of my very favorites. I haven't read the WWI series, but I love her Victorian mysteries.

6:03 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home