Back when my blog was on MySpace * (not to mention, back when I actually blogged...) I would occasionally throw a list of cool stuff up with the title Things I have encountered this week that I would like to share. I'm pretty sure I had a bunch of them, but it looks like I only transferred two over here. It was basically a way for me to say "Hey! Look at this stuff, it's pretty cool."
It's been about a year and a half since I last posted on this blog, and almost eight years since I last posted one of these. So I have no idea why the idea of doing another one popped into my head tonight. But first I thought, "Hey, this is a great book! Everybody should read this book." And then I thought, "Hey, these are great pickles. Everybody should eat these pickles." And here we are.
So here are the things I think you should try. You know you want to.
The Sisters: The Saga of the Mitford Family by Mary S. Lovell
This was on my to-read list before Deborah Mitford died in September, but it did move up the list considerably because of it. (Warning: the link leads to her obituary, which I suppose you could view as a spoiler for the book, because it details the most memorable events of a family that specialized in memorable events.)
The book is well-written. The family is fascinating. I knew the broad strokes: two sisters were Nazis, one was a communist. There were affairs and elopements and imprisonment and best-selling authors. Everyone did outrageous things--some things that were outrageous only by the standards of the time, but others that would be outrageous today as well. My favorite line from the book (so far) quotes their mother as saying, "Whenever I see a headline beginning with 'Peer's Daughter' I know one of you children has been in trouble."
The family itself is incredibly compelling, but the thing that I'm finding absolutely fascinating is to read about the family's interactions with Hitler while also knowing how that story ends. I'm about halfway through the book. World War II has not yet started. And these women--who are cousins of Winston Churchill's--are having tea with Adolf Hitler and talking to him about the nutritional values of bread. (seriously.)
Most people hear the name Hitler and immediately think "monster," for the very reasonable reason that he was clearly a monster. But it's easy to forget that people didn't always know that, that some people of the time--both inside and outside Germany--agreed with him, and that he was reportedly a fairly charismatic person, particularly during speeches. Reading about people interacting with him as a normal human being is jarring, to say the least. But because I know what happens next, I'm fascinated to see it through that lens--and how they react as the situation changes.
In short, this was a family of deeply flawed, but wildly interesting people. Lovell has done a great job of making the reader care about them, even when they're doing reprehensible things.
Shorter version: Read this book.
Lancaster Pickle Company Horseradish Pickles
When we walked into Central Market on Saturday, my sister said that she wanted to buy some pickles. So I followed her over to the Lancaster Pickle Company stand. And after I spent awhile chowing down on their free samples, I felt like I really needed to buy something, so I bought a pint of their horseradish pickles. And--don't get me wrong, they were good--I just assumed that I'd bring them home, stick them in my refrigerator, then find them behind the leftovers in three months and throw them away. When I think "snack," I don't usually think "pickles," so I figured I'd forget about them.
The first time I took them out of the refrigerator, it was Sunday afternoon, I'd been away for three days and I hadn't been to the grocery store yet. I didn't have a lot of snack options. But the second, third and fourth time...look, these are really good pickles. And therein lies my problem. The pickles are half gone. And I can't get any more until I go back to Pennsylvania. And I can't stop eating them. It's tragic, really.
So if you live near York (or, presumably, Lancaster) go get some pickles. But don't tell me about it, because jealousy stinks.
* Writing this sentence made me feel SO. OLD.