A rose by any other name wins by a nose

Scents touch a special chord, not only in our olfactory systems but also in our hearts and in our brains. We all can relate to a certain scent transporting us to another time and place. It’s a magical transformation. The smell of certain things baking in the oven may take us back to our mothers’ or grandmothers’ kitchens. Being near water may remind us of all those carefree days as children swimming in the lake or nearby river every summer. The fragrance of certain perfumes may transport us to memories of loved ones and ones we’ve loved. Whenever I open my late mother’s jewelry box, the lingering scent evokes the inside of her house and memories come flooding back. Sometimes, people who have lost a special person, keep a bathrobe or favourite sweater that carries the scent of that person, to provide comfort.

Ever since the days of owning a single bottle of (cheap) Evening in Paris cologne purchased at the local five and dime store and proudly displayed on my bedroom dresser when I was a teenager, I’ve been charmed and affected by fragrance. I love the different moods each one presents. I adore the beautiful bottles. I feel so feminine and uplifted when I spritz myself each morning. Over the years, I’ve accumulated a sizeable collection and even though many, if not most of my bottles are probably past their best-before date, I cannot part with them.

When I first started working for Bell Telephone on University Avenue in Toronto in 1965, my girlfriend and I used to go into the drugstore behind our office building on our lunch hour and spray ourselves with generous quantities of expensive perfumes we couldn’t afford to buy on our clerk-typist wages. White Shoulders and L’air du Temps were always favourites. I’m sure there were many days when we came back into the office after lunch nearly asphyxiating our coworkers after we’d doused ourselves in lilac or lily of the valley perfumes of questionable quality. As they say, ‘those were the days, my friend’.

I was the in-store representative for Yardley of London at Eatons’ College Street Store in 1970.

There was a time in the ’80s when blooming boomers were encouraged to adopt a ‘signature scent’. Offices were awash in Opium, Red Door, Obsession, and Poison. One of the girls in my office came to work every day drenched in Cartier’s expensive La Panthère. I’ve never been able to limit myself to just one fragrance. Some days I’m in the mood for floral; other days I lean toward citrus or spicey. Does anyone remember wearing Shalimar or Estée Lauder’s Youth Dew in the ’60s? Or Elizabeth Arden’s Blue Grass? We were so sophisticated. When I worked in Eaton’s College Street store’s cosmetics department in 1970, we had people who came in purposely to buy giant bottles of 4711. We also sold a lot of Jean Naté, Yardley’s Lavender and Chantilly in the pink bottle. Remember them?

My favourite fragrance is called Émilie by French perfumier Fragonard. Émilie is a blend that includes my favourite flowers, rose, and jasmine. I first experienced this fragrance in 2012 when I toured southern France with a group of ladies guided by decorating and style guru Kimberley Seldon. We toured the Fragonard factory in Grasse, France where we were able to see how they gather the blooms, then distill and manufacture the various fragrances according to which flowers are in season. I also once toured a small, second-floor perfume museum near the Opera House in Paris and thoroughly enjoyed myself.

After I originally purchased a tiny atomizer of Fragonard’s Émilie and it turned out to be so amazingly beautiful, I went to the internet the following year to order more. A few weeks later, to my great delight, a more substantial bottle arrived in the mail, all the way from France. Sometime later, however, I was disappointed to receive a notice from them that they would no longer be able to send it to me as postal regulations forbid certain chemicals and liquids being sent by mail. I guess I’ll just have to fly to France to restock. It’s available on Amazon from third-party sellers but I’ve never ordered from them so I can’t vouch for their authenticity. I did manage to pick up another bottle a couple of years ago when I was In France which should last me long after I go to the ‘home’. I only hope my fellow residents will enjoy it as much as I do—cough, cough.

Visiting Fragonard’s perfume factory in Grasse, France was a once-in-a-lifetime treat.

What seems to distinguish the Fragonard perfume from so many (and there are soooo many) available on the market today, is the purity of the fragrance. Perhaps it’s just me, but whenever I try a sample of some new fragrance being launched, I find it inevitably leaves an unpleasant chemical smell on my skin, not the clear floral fragrance I’m looking for. So many perfumes today, even from the major perfume houses, contain so many synthetic ingredients that they all smell the same. And, as we all know, each one reacts differently with our individual body chemistry. Chanel No. 5 always smells like ginger ale on me while it’s divine on a friend of mine.

One day when I was in the Hudson’s Bay store’s perfume department, a customer produced a small gold atomizer like the Fragonard one I bought in France, asking the sales associate to find something similar. Her daughter had bought it for her, also in France, and she wanted to replicate it. ‘Good luck’, I thought, as I meandered off. I once read somewhere that Michelle Obama wears Cartier’s Délice which has a delicate cherry essence. I couldn’t get myself off fast enough to Holt Renfrew to spritz myself from the tester, hoping to capture just a tiny bit of her essence.

Even the scent of sheets dried outside in the fresh air is enough to send me into paroxysms of bliss. A whiff of fresh spruce can return me to the Christmas trees in my childhood home. Does the smell of wood smoke remind you of summer camping trips? The smell of Neutrogena soap always puts me in the hands of Dr. Cornish, an old dentist I had fifty years ago, in the days when dentists didn’t wear latex gloves, just washing their hands for every new patient. The unique scent of old-fashioned ivory soap reminds me of time spent as a child at a friend’s cottage.

Is there such a thing as too much fragrance? 

Perhaps my aging nose has lost some of its sensitivity as the years go by. As my sense of smell diminishes, I pity the people fainting in my wake as I stroll down the street in a suffocating cloud of my floral scent du jour, oblivious to those with allergies or an aversion to fragrance. I absolutely adore fragrance and will never stop wearing it. For whatever effect scent has on our brains and hearts, I’m not going to deny myself.

Are you a fragrance aficionado like me? What’s your favourite and what memories does it evoke?

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Can baby boomers literally outgrow jeans?

One size does not fit all, so, why isn’t there a size that does fit me?

As if I weren’t feeling insecure enough already after a recent closet purge to get rid of things that didn’t “fit and flatter”, I foolishly went shopping for new jeans this week. The jeans and general closet purge preceded my recent big bra purge (by that I mean quantity not bra size, obviously). Embarrassed and frustrated with a closet full of jeans that no longer fit, tops that made me look pregnant and sweaters that only flattered my lumps and bumps, I trucked bags of cast-offs to charity bins and the consignment shop. That left me with only two pairs of jeans that were marginally comfortable and not too embarrassing to wear out in public. A trip to the mall was needed to remedy the situation. (Doesn’t that solve pretty much any existential crisis?)

Buying new jeans can be every bit as painful as trying on bathing suits, which I gave up on a long time ago. The process can involve visiting different stores and, lo, even different malls in different area codes in search of the perfect fit for the less-than-perfect body. I’ve always had the best luck with NYDJ (Not Your Daughter’s Jeans) as I’m only 5’3″ and their petite and ankle-length sizes usually fit me perfectly. Not this time. I was looking for a mid-blue colour (not too pale and not too dark as the only two remaining pair I have are light blue and dark wash), no holes in the knees or thighs (boomers understand why), a nice ankle-grazing length for summer and also with summer in mind, softly distressed and not too heavy. I also prefer the high waisted style that does a better job of corraling muffin-top than those ridiculous designs with a 5-inch rise. NYDJ didn’t have just what I was looking for so I had to cast further afield which is a terrifying prospect. Who else makes jeans for boomers who aren’t 6 ft. tall and weigh 94 lbs? Was I asking for the impossible?

I started in Hudson’s Bay Company at Sherway Gardens in Toronto. I didn’t want to invest in expensive designer jeans because I was casually considering a frayed hem which will probably be out of style next season or more likely, within the next ten minutes. The Bay has a wide range of brands and sizes, many of which are conveniently on sale at this time of year to clear out current inventory in preparation for next week’s fickle trend. No luck. I’m always on the cusp of being current, but not quite there. I also learned that Top Shop is unaware that there’s a large portion of the population that is not size 00. No one I know has a 25″ waist and 32″ inseam and I know a lot of people.

Help! What do full-bodied real women do?

So I went to my favourite store, Nordstrom which tends to carry more high-end merchandise. Jeans shopping calls for desperate measures. The only ones that came close were Frame but at more than $300.00 the fit was only so-so. If they don’t feel marvelous when I try them on, they’re doomed to languish in my closet unworn. If I’ve learned nothing else about clothes’ shopping over the last sixty years, it’s that if I don’t absolutely love an item immediately, don’t buy it. I have a mantra I repeat when I’m in the fitting room: “If in doubt—DON’T!”. That’s saved my bacon many times, preventing me from committing serious fashion “don’ts”. Meanwhile, I’m trying not to recall those cute little 27-inch-waist jeans with the snappy red zippers at the ankles, that I once purchased for my once lean young body at Bayview Village—many years ago.

Leaving Nordstrom, I hit every store in Sherway Gardens that carries jeans. That included The Gap, the Levi’s store, ZARA, Mendocino, Andrews, Dynamite, Eileen Fisher, Eagle Outfitters . . . and on and on and on. My feet felt like clubs and my self-esteem was totally crushed. Most of the children working in those stores had no understanding or sympathy for my plight—like it’s my fault I’m old, fat and frumpy. Their day will come. Just wait ’til menopause hits them and I hope they remember how cavalier they once were about me being unable to zip up their stupid, skinny jeans. I ventured into stores I didn’t even know existed until I went hunting for a new pair of inexpensive, fashionable jeans. I’m now very familiar with the millennial world of disposable clothing. Not that their clothing lines were able to offer anything remotely appropriate.

Even the Levi’s store which has wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling shelves stacked with jeans of every style, colour, cut and uncut, still couldn’t find a pair that fit my boomer body. What they did have, however, was a seamstress sitting at the centre of the store in front of a very scary looking commercial sewing machine that could embellish my jeans or jean jacket with any type of logo, sparkle, fringe or embroidery I could dream of. The girl operating the machine wore black lipstick with a lip ring piercing her lower lip, purple, pink and black spiked hair and a tight tee shirt that made it easy to calculate her bra size if she had been wearing one. Her false eyelashes were thick and heavy enough to scrape the mud off your golf shoes. And, the store’s piped-in music was selected specifically to scare off weird interlopers like me, which it was successful in doing.

My excursions to find the perfect replacement jeans also made me an expert on retail dressing rooms. They are all consistently poorly-lit, and frequently lacking in hooks for my purse and the clothes I’m wearing. Rails are great for what I bring into the change room already on hangers, but unless there are hooks, I’m forced to drop my clothes on the floor. And, the floor of every dressing room is crawling with dust bunnies and questionable fungi, particularly close to the baseboards, which are, well, close because most dressing rooms are . . . close. And, not many change rooms have a chair or stool to perch on when we’re trying to put our shoes back on—which would be a much-appreciated amenity for boomer bottoms. And if you’re shy about all that cellulite and overflow being visible to passers-by when you’re stripped down to your frillies, then take the jeans home to try them on because those ring-topped curtains never quite completely close to give you privacy during your darkest hours.

After three separate excursions to the mall and trawling dozens of stores, I finally circled back to Hudson’s Bay because that’s where my car was parked. I made a last-minute detour into the lingerie department in a vain search once again for suitable nightgowns. No luck there either, although I purchased another sports bra, the only kind that seems to offer any degree of comfort. As I was approaching the elevator, I thought I’d pick up that white linen Ralph Lauren blouse I saw on sale earlier in the day (as if I need another white blouse!!). To get to the change room, I had to pass through the BCBG Maxazaria section that was all but abandoned (they’ve closed a lot of their stand-alone retail locations). Everything except the striped blazer I liked was on sale, including their jeans. I’d never considered that brand as a suitable candidate for this body as most of their fashions are for wisp-thin gals with a social life far beyond my level of experience.

The nice lady with the Polish accent who was working the change room check-in desk complimented me on my choice. Lifting up her blouse to show me how well BCBG’s jeans fit her trim, young body, I should have felt reassured but of course, felt even fatter. She ushered me into an adequately-sized change room with a hanging rail, stool, and hooks (!!!), where I tried on a pair of soft jeans in what is usually my size. Too big! Thank you vanity sizing.

High waist fit helps with muffin top.

By then, nice Polish lady had disappeared (as we all know, Hudson’s Bay Company only employs one sales person per store in the suburbs) so I had to grab my purse and waddle back out into the store in my ill-fitting jeans to find another size. After two more tries and managing to lock myself out of my own change room, I finally found a pair that were soft, sufficiently contained all my floppy bits without pinching and actually were almost perfect. All I have to do is cut six inches off the hem.

Even though they were on sale, they still cost more than I would have liked to pay, but it seems body dysmorphics like me have to settle for and be happy with whatever is close. I’ll be damned if I’m going to buy jeans with pregnancy panels. I’m not that big, yet! What on earth do truly full-bodied women do?

So, just when I was beginning to despair of ever finding a simple pair of everyday jeans that fit me, in my native province, Lynda now has a new pair of jeans. After I chop half a foot off the bottoms, I’m going to try a do-it-yourself version of a frayed hem. I never like the way altered hems on jeans look (regardless of what the alterationist says is a fool-proof European stitch-job). I’ve marked the line; I’m going to stay-stitch the new line on my 52-year-old cast iron Singer sewing machine, just the way the real raw-hem jeans are done, chop off the excess fabric, carefully hand pick and fray away the bottom hem to create that perfect look so that I can wear them proudly before they go out of fashion on Tuesday.

Remember the olden days when shopping used to be fun?

When you see me struttin’ out in my new jeans, be sure to compliment me. I’m physically and emotionally exhausted from the experience and could use some reassurance that my efforts weren’t in vain. All those young millennials cruising the streets and malls in their perfectly fitted, just-so-perfectly distressed jeans on their perfectly firm little bottoms have my future to look forward to. Rest up all you young Ava’s, Sophia’s, Harper’s or whatever trendy new name you have these days. Someday, you too will lose your waistline, be unable to walk in stilettos and suffer hot flashes for twenty years longer than you expected. I should probably feel ashamed about taking pleasure in the sadistic knowledge that they too will someday mourn the loss of what they so take for granted today.

There was a time when I also thought I’d be able to wear mini-skirts and high platform heels until death do us part, but alas, time catches up with us all. Maybe this is nature’s way of telling me I should no longer be wearing jeans. Naw! Boomers practically invented jeans and made them part of everyday fashion lexicon for eternity. I refuse to be beaten by a generation of consumers who is completely unaware that we boomers are the generation to thank for their wardrobe staple. We’ve grown from being offered only one choice of stiff, dark blue denim Levi’s in the sixties that we had to wear sitting in the bathtub full of hot water and salt to start to break them in and bend to our individual body shapes, to zillions of different styles, washes, manufacturers and colours, none of which fit us or are appropriate.  We must rise up and demand our due, preferably with a high rise. I love jeans. I deserve to wear jeans. I will not be wedged out by built-in obsolescence and a nuclear wedgie. Welcome to the Age of Nefarious mes chères.

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Kudos to Chatelaine and Dove soap for recognizing that all women are beautiful

Different covers were released in different areas.

When I received the June/July 2019 issue of Chatelaine magazine in my mailbox this week I was a little taken aback—at first. Featured on the cover of the annual swimsuit issue (a cliché if there ever was one) is a full-bodied woman of indeterminate age wearing a coral-coloured swimsuit, a straw sunhat, and a huge smile. The more I thought about it and went through its pages, the bigger the smile grew on my own face. It takes courage for a major magazine to turn the tables on the media’s narrow definition of beauty.

Canada’s own Chatelaine magazine and Dove soap have joined forces to recognize that even though we’re not all six feet tall, blonde, blue-eyed and weigh less than a single maple leaf, we’re still beautiful. Dove has been running this campaign for many years. They’ve earned kudos for their marketing and women appreciate their efforts, but this is the first time I’ve seen a national magazine take it a step further.

Just as I was considering canceling my decades-long subscription to Chatelaine, they’ve totally redeemed themselves. I still prefer most of my mags in print version so I can rip pages out to save recipes or inspirational fashion pics. The spread on page 20-22 is a summary of book recommendations for summer which is always appreciated, especially when it includes Canadian authors. I like the way they’re categorized—Best Character, Best Dystopian Thriller, Best History Lesson and so on.

They’ve also included their Drugstore Hall of Fame picks for makeup, skin, body and hair care products. It’s always fun and somewhat reassuring to read what others are using and prefer, especially when we don’t have to lay out $400.00 for an eye cream. There are the usual fashion items, sensible advice on health issues and a Winners’ Spotlight on everyday household products preferred by Canadians. I haven’t had a chance yet to read the extensive piece about Chrystia Freeland written by Leah McLaren but it’s on my to-do list.

There’s plenty more great material in this issue but I don’t want to spoil all the fun for you. Do yourself and print publications a favour. Please pick up a newsstand copy of the June/July edition of Chatelaine. The cover appearing at your newsstand or grocery store may not be the same as mine as Chatelaine has published its June/July issue with a series of different covers featuring pictures real women can identify with and relate to. Imagine that! Show your support for their brave editorial step. It’s also a vote for a more diverse definition of beauty, something long overdue in media. Put the June/July 2019 issue of Chatelaine on your grocery list and pick up a copy while it’s still available.


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Kudos to Chatelaine and Dove soap for recognizing that all women are beautiful
Different covers were released in different areas.

I Marie-Kondo’d my bra drawer and feel so uplifted

We all know that feeling!

Rachel Hollis, author of Girl, Wash Your Face was right: Bras are the devil’s work. Over my lifetime, I’ve probably invested the equivalent cost of a luxury German imported car in a futile search for a comfortable bra. I’m convinced they don’t exist. Yesterday as I was getting dressed to go out, I tried on no less than three before I found one comfortable enough to wear to the mall. And when I got there I bee-lined it for the Jockey For Her section in the lingerie department in search of something wearable. I opted for one of those sports-like all-over stretch jobs with no clasps, trim or skinny bits to dig in. Much as I hate wearing a bra, a certain amount of decorum is required when going out in public so we’re forced to buckle up.

When I got home the first thing I did, as usual, was rip my bra off. Then, I pulled everything out of my bra drawer, gave each one a quick test drive to determine whether it would live or die, then tossed the rejects into a big pile on my bed. I was merciless. The losers were too tight around the ribcage, didn’t have enough banding around the ribcage, rolled at the ribcage, slipped off my shoulders or simply didn’t properly accommodate the girls without spilling over or accentuating back fat. Am I too demanding? I don’t think so.

In theory this system should work but in the real world it varies widely according to manufacturer.

There was a time many generations ago when I was so proud to wear a bra. When my mother took me to buy my first 28AA I felt so grown up. There was also a time when we were young that I loved buying all the lacey little contraptions that passed for a bra. But when we reached a certain age, comfort and performance became priorities, while still achieving a level of sexiness and femininity. I’ve been measured many times at different stores and every one comes up with a different size combo. I accept that our size is not static and changes as we age and gain or lose weight, but maybe we need a computer-generated modelling system to get it right once and for all. If they can do it for jeans, why not bras? Could someone please task their grandchild to create an app for calculating the correct bra size by manufacturer and style? The old ribcage measurement combined with breast size just doesn’t compute in the real world.

Hence, the huge pile of discarded bras on my bed. Only six (6) survived the purge, including the new Jockey-For-Her number I picked up yesterday. That should be enough by anyone’s standards but I have a feeling I’ll soon be on the prowl again. Fourteen (14) regular bras and eighteen (18) sports bras are destined for the dumpster (Yes! That’s a shameful total of 32), except textiles should not be thrown in the trash, so what do we do with them? That’s a lotta landfill. I’ll parcel them up for for charity, if they’ll take them, as most have hardly been worn. Hopefully they’ll be useful to someone else. The Canadian Diabetes Association recycles clothing and I understand H&M stores have drop boxes for recycling clothing. 

Then, I attacked another drawer full of camisoles and tank tops worn over bras under certain blouses and sweaters. The work never ends. It’s a shocking and embarrassing thing to admit but how could any one person possibly need or wear 33 camis? We all have too much of everything and the recent culling of my bras and camisoles is a prime example of our excesses—well, mine for sure. Now I actually have a couple of empty drawers in my bedroom and I won’t have to forage through dozens of rejects to find something to wear.

No longer burdened by a surplus of ill-fitting, uncomfortable bras, I feel strangely uplifted. Kondo was right, sort of. It wasn’t about keeping only those that sparked joy (I can’t imagine any bra actually sparking joy) but more accurately getting rid of things sparked the real joy. I recently took a pile of clothing to the consignment shop and a couple of bags of discards to the charity box. Imagine how I would feel if I dared go down to the basement and tackled that quagmire. Naaah! I think I’ll just sit back and enjoy the fruits of my lingerie liquidation before I get into something under foot that might be over my head. I’m feelin’ fine. Let’s just keep it that way. Have you had a good purge lately?

Yep! A total of 32 bras of different types are heading for recycling.
As well as 33 camisoles and tank tops.
I really think sports bras are the best solution and I have no objection to a uni-boob.
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I Marie-Kondo’d my bra drawer and feel so uplifted
We all know that feeling!

My Queendom for a decent nightgown

I’m running out of options.

Am I the only person on the planet who still wears nightgowns rather than pyjamas? It’s been more than two years since I’ve been able to rotate some of my old nighties out and replace them with new ones. The reason for this is not because I blew the budget on purses and shoes or that I haven’t really tried. I’ve been scouring the department stores, lingerie boutiques, the internet and everywhere short of dumpsters looking for some new replacement nightgowns. Everything, everywhere is pyjamas, pyjamas, pyjamas. Shorties. Thermals. Dorm-wear. Brothel-wear. Skimpy. Safe. Granny or gorgeous. Every kind of pyjama style, fabric and price point is available but no suitable nightgowns for old boomer broads like me. I’m not particularly demanding but I do have a few specific requirements:

  • Not too short. They need to keep my bum warm under the covers and should keep my knees covered when wearing them around the house. (Who knew boomer gals would grow unsightly muffin top on our knees!)
  • Not too long. I’m not keen on maxi length because I’m only 5’3″ tall and full length usually means I’m tripping over it. Mid-calf midi (not maxi) length would be perfect. Hankerchief or asymetrical hems are a nice touch too.
  • No spagetti straps. They just fall off our shoulders, requiring constant adjustments. Nice tank-style shoulder straps between one and two inches in width would do nicely. Despite the persistence of our hot flashes, we don’t like our shoulders getting cold during the winter.
  • No ruching or elastic under the bustline. Again, this calls for constant attention, untwisting and relocating things.
  • Breathable fabrics. Those hot flashes still blast us every so often and our bodies need to breathe. Cotton jersey knit or bamboo are lovely and the better quality fabrics feel divine.

    This one from Soma in the U.S. is several years old and soft as suede. If it were only about a foot longer, it would be perfect.
  • Feminine, sexy prints are perfect. Dark, solid colours fade in the wash and light colours are too transparent to be worn decently around the house. Animal prints are always fun. Painterly patterns can be lovely too. Orchids, calla lilies and other florals are cheerful. But, no teddy bears, strawberries or bunnies puleez. We’re not children. We’re women who want to be appropriately feminine and a bit sexy, whether we sleep alone or not.
  • Soft fabrics are essential. Preferably something that moves gently when we walk and feels delicious next to our skin. No scratchy, stiff or rough embellishments.

I really don’t think I’m asking for too much. A midi-length tank-style, A-line nightgown in a soft printed fabric would make me the happiest old boomer broad in the world. I used to be able to score what I was looking for at Soma in the United States but even they have abandoned me the last couple of years. Donna Karen sometimes comes out with something acceptable. Natori is a bit pricey and haven’t really created one that I one hundred percent love.

I’m getting desperate. My inventory is seriously depleted and there seems to be no signs of hope to grasp on to. There are always hospital suppliers if I’m willing to tolerate year-round rear ventilation. I’ve considered cheap Walmart-style cotton shift dresses but they’re usually imprinted with childish animals, garish stripes or the above-mentioned teddy bears and they’re not as soft as I would like.

The other day I was so desperate I went into Victoria’s Secret (a store I dislike) and asked if they had any nightgowns. The young nymphette working there looked at me for a few seconds like I was crazy before she shook her head no. The empress has no nightclothes and it’s not a pretty sight.

Am I a freak or does anyone else share my frustration?


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My Queendom for a decent nightgown
I'm running out of options.

What’s on your summer reading list?

Best-selling author Jennifer Weiner’s recent Op-Ed piece What’s Your Favorite Book? in The New York Times questioned the validity of criticizing other people’s choices in reading material. In particular, she was disappointed that Stephen Colbert made fun of the so-called bodice-ripper books by Georgia politician Stacey Abrams written under the name Selena Montgomery. When asked what book U.S. presidential candidate Mark Buttigieg would take if stranded on a desert island he named James Joyce’s Ulysses. Whether he was sincere or just showing off is moot because according to Weiner whatever we read (and write) should be respected simply because we’re reading. And I couldn’t agree more.

Weiner’s comments got me thinking about what book I would take to a desert island. Would it be humour, historical fiction, biography or perhaps a fictional family saga? One thing I know for sure; it would be fat. I love books of more than a thousand pages that engross me for days or weeks at a time. It’s like savouring a great meal or life experience by making it last as long as possible. Any one of the Ken Follett  Century trilogy (Pillars of the Earth, Fall of Giants, Winter of the World) would be a strong possibility; historical fiction is my favourite genre. And (surprisingly) I also loved the Russian classics like Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy and Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Go figure.

To order These Foolish Things from Amazon, click here.

​Some books are just so good they warrant re-reading. I’ve read These Foolish Things by Deborah Moggach at least three times. That was the book the movie The New Marigold Hotel was based on and much as I enjoyed the movie, the book was soooo much better. The characters were more eccentric and multi-dimensional. The book was also funnier than the movie. But then, movies never measure up to the joy of reading the original book. Our imaginations are so much better at painting scenes than any movie could ever convey in 90 minutes.

David Sedaris is another author I could and do read over and over. His humour, while not to everyone’s taste, is in my opinion brilliant. Catherine Gildiner’s trilogy (Too Close to The Falls, After the Falls and Coming Ashore) outlining her life story was delicious beyond words for baby boomer readers.

There are just too many books to narrow it down to just one I would take to a desert island. I think the only solution would be to negotiate taking my iPad Mini or Kindle loaded with all my favourites. I’d need a solar charger of course but we could talk about that too. The bottom line is I can’t imagine life without reading; it’s my absolute favourite activity in the world. Just like some people love golf, tennis, running, crafting, football or creating art, my deep love of reading is organic, part of my DNA.

I have a spreadsheet on my laptop summarizing all the books I’ve read and want to read. It’s pages long and organized in columns:

  • Title
  • Author
  • Brief Description
  • Name of person or source who recommended the book
  • Date Read
  • Rating 1-10

Most of them are rated at least 8 because I don’t waste time on something I don’t love. I’ll never get to them all before I die so I may have to take my iPad to the grave with me to catch up. I’m always on the waiting list for at least half a dozen books at the library and sometimes it takes up to six months before I get something I’ve requested. Then, two or three land at the same time and I’m panicked about how I’m going to get through them all in my three-week allotted time frame.

My circle of boomer gal pals generally shares my taste in reading and we trade books (and magazines) back and forth. Not only do we get to enjoy the books while we’re reading them but we get to relive the joy while rehashing the story over lunch. I’ve never had much luck with book clubs because I’m very particular about what I read and I don’t have time to read and discuss a book I’m only luke-warm about.

Fortunately curriculum and teaching styles have vastly improved since boomers fell asleep in English class during the early sixties.

English literature was boring and boringly taught back when boomers fell asleep in English class in the sixties. I must say I’m so glad I studied classics like Charles Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities but I could have lived without Steinbeck’s The Pearl and Thomas Hardy’s Return of the Native. Later generations enjoyed J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye and other contemporary novels by the likes of Margaret Atwood and Margaret Laurence. Boomers were doomed to read only the classics in school—which isn’t a bad thing—but some fun books in the mix would have been welcome to inspire and encourage our love of reading.

This summer I plan to reread P.J. O’Rourke’s The Baby Boom. It’s hysterically funny and a must-read for baby boomers—like a trip back in time. I would also like to reread Gail Honeyman’s Eleanor Oliphant is Completely FineIt’s a perfect rendering of that understated British sense of dark humour that I enjoy so much. What’s on your summer reading list?

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