The PaperGirl Advice Column (and Summer Reading List)

posted in: Art, Day In The Life, Word Nerd 27
Esther Pauline Friedman Lederer, better known as Ann Landers, in 1961. Photo: Wikipedia.



I have decided that this blog should become an advice column — but not the normal kind where people write to the columnist for advice.

No, this blog ought to be an advice column where I bring you my problems and quandaries and you give me advice! It already happens so often! Anytime I ask for it, I get great advice!

Whether I’m wondering about how to feel about public breastfeeding or the matter of having an emotional support animal or what book to start with on my summer reading list, the advice and counsel I get from PaperGirl readers is way more interesting and helpful than what I might dole out to you sitting here on my tuffet.*

Honestly, don’t you think that’s a fun idea? An “advice column” where the columnist is the one asking for the advice? Hilarious!

Thanks to all of you, my summer reading list is set. I didn’t tabulate exact votes, but it was pretty clear how things shook out. I am going to read my five novels in this order, as per your advice:


1984 byGeorge Orwell
The Goldfinch 
by Donna Tartt
The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
The Pale King by David Foster Wallace
Tender is the Night by Ernest Hemingway


It was pretty close between Orwell and Tartt, but I think it’s okay for me to start with the shorter work before I dive into the really long one. Henry James was definitely in third place, and David Foster Wallace and Hemingway were neck and neck bringing up the caboose, but I decided to let Hemingway come in last. He so often comes in first, doesn’t he? He’ll be okay.

Once I’m finished with Orwell, I’ll bring you my book report. It’s interesting timing: I’ve been thinking about deleting my Facebook account. I was going to bring you the case and — wait for it — ask you for your advice. Reading 1984 with that in mind, that idea about deleting Facebook, will be most interesting.

Thanks, gang.


*I’m not on a tuffet. I just needed to create a visual of some haughty Advice Columnist who thinks she knows everything and putting her on a tuffet seemed right. 

27 Responses

  1. Judy Hart
    | Reply

    A great help I’ve found is just staying off of FB for a while, the blood pressure gets much lower and I get more accomplished.

  2. Caroline Nelson
    | Reply

    Please don’t delete your FB account. It’s the only way I get Papergirl! I’ve registered a few time for your blog to be emailed to me and it never has and, yes, I HAVE checked the spam and other folders.

    • Michele Meacham
      | Reply

      Me too !!!

  3. Marianne Fons
    | Reply

    Mary, this is your mom. 🙂 I hate to pop in here and be all English-major-y but Tender is the Night is by F. Scott Fitzgerald (not Ernest Hemingway). I remember it as a beautiful book, fairly short, so a good book end (!) to 1984 on your reading list. I started one of Tartt’s books a while back (The Little Friend) but got bogged down. I’m about to open Possession by A.S. Byatt. XOXO

    • Susan Skuda
      | Reply

      Gotta love moms! ❤️ Maryanne Fons ❤️

      • Susan Skuda
        | Reply

        Oops and spellcheck killed your name…

  4. Tina
    | Reply

    So many quilters are making their own tuffets these days, the visual totally works!

  5. Gayle
    | Reply

    I’m fairly new to the world of quilting, as well as your blog. I did get to know you through your quilting videos, and now I get to enjoy your view of the world and wonderful sense of humor through your blog. I think I’ll begin reading “Goldfinch” so maybe I can finish by the time you do (currently working on two baby quilts!). BTW, isn’t F. Scott Fitzgerald the author of “Tender is the Night” ? Have a great day!!

  6. Rita Farro
    | Reply

    I bought a t-shirt at the local Goodwill store that says, “My hope for you is that one day, your real life will be half as good as your fake Facebook life”…and I always keep that in mind when I go on Facebook.

  7. Helen Marie
    | Reply

    Oh dear. If you’re reading Orwell, you will want to stay off Facebook for awhile. And no news watching!

  8. Grammy Judy
    | Reply

    What is stressing you out on fb? I have heard others say the same thing, maybe I’m not using fb the way others do. Yes, I keep in touch with friends and family but mostly for the quilting sites that are available. I have seen many comments about posters being rude and unkind but I have not experienced that and I have been on fb for several years. Try checking the many quilting sites that are available with a wealth of information and you might change your mind about deleting it.

    • Glenda
      | Reply

      I think quilter’s are a higher calibre of people.

  9. Chris
    | Reply

    Just have to say–I love how your mom posts “Mary. this is your mom” when her name is in color and bold right above it! I’m going to go start reading now……

    • Melanie
      | Reply

      That made me chuckle too.

    • Betty Elliott
      | Reply

      I love that too! As if Marianne Fons would have to identify herself to anyone – much less her own daughter!

  10. Mary Ann
    | Reply

    I tried skipping Facebook but then realized burying my head in the sand didn’t change anything. At least now I get phone numbers if Congress and Whitehouse posted nearly daily.

  11. Georgia O'Neal
    | Reply

    I very rarely even get on fb – I think most of it is a waste of time I could spend quilting, reading or even gardening. Deletion is not necessary – just discretion.

  12. Marilyn Jackson
    | Reply

    Your mother beat me to the punch to say (as someone did yesterday) that F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote “Tender Is the Night.”

    Also: my recommendation is to read “Tender” first, or at the least, read it second. It reads smoothly, doesn’t require immediate soul-searching, and is best appreciated after you’ve read it. Henry James is fantastic but don’t start with him — he is tough and requires concentration — and is worth it. I’ve heard only bad stuff about “Goldfinch” but that is not the general opinion.

    Happy reading!

  13. Lynn Carpenter
    | Reply

    I love your work!

  14. Shelley Dionne
    | Reply

    Read Goldfinch in 3 days…couldn’t put it down! If closing your facebook account means we’ll be reading more of you here,then thumbs up. In actuality, I have been considering closing mine for the past several months.

  15. Melanie
    | Reply

    OK…..I’m so sorry (in advance), but I really LOVE that your mom popped in here and “corrected” you, and in such a sweet way. I kept spelling “lightning” wrong on FB (lightening) and my mom wanted to correct me but was uncertain about correcting me. She even consulted my old sister about correcting me (I can get a little defensive at times…..). I am glad to have correct information, but I am a little sensitive, but I do like having correct information, and so on and so on. Re: FB I say be a “weekly” presence and don’t read too much. Hide the crap you don’t like seeing and enjoy the stuff that you do enjoy. Use IT don’t let it use YOU.

  16. Bob Collis
    | Reply

    “The Great Gatsby” is good. Also, “The Old Man and the Sea”.

  17. Mary Dusenberry
    | Reply

    I am going to use your list and share it tomorrow with my Book Club. I strongly (and lately) suggest that you read The Second Mrs Hockaday! A day without FB is a special day!

  18. Barbara Martin
    | Reply

    I love that your Mom popped on AND told you who she was (like you might be confused)…my grandkids do this to me like I don’t have them dialed in but it does make me laugh. I thought 1984 should be first also…cannot wait for the book report, you do turn a phrase and USE the words you have learned…in this day and age of emojis and misspelled shortened words, and don’t get me started on grammar, you are a breath of fresh air…Ok, my rant is over but I have enjoyed paper girl so much

  19. Sarah Melvey
    | Reply

    I recently bought a copy of “The Well Educated Mind” by Susan Wise Bauer, because I felt that my mom-brain needed a reboot. She includes a massive list of books to read (organized by genre as well as chronologically!). My new bucket list reading program. Will take me a lifetime!

  20. Li
    | Reply

    1984 is a great choice. You and your mother are so amusing. You are your mother’s daughter. At the moment I am watching “American Experience”. Another great production. WWI, “The Great War” is an amazing story. If you have ever been intrigued by trench warfare, I have just learned about he zigzag pattern on the Western Front. These men deserve being remembered.

  21. Janet Jozwiak
    | Reply

    I agree with your mom about Henry James. I was so disappointed when I tried to read The Ambassadors back in my younger days, I’m not sure it was the difficulty because I used to love to read Faulkner. But I just had no interest in his characters, or anything he was writing about. It was probably the first book I did not like, and did not finish.

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