Two New Blogging Projects

Coinciding with the official move of my blogging activity from this blog  to my new one ( — and to start into the new year — I have come up with two new blogging projects:


1. Diversity Bingo

This is in support of my Around the World reading project, which hasn’t quite seen the progress it should have had in 2020 (though fortunately it didn’t come to stall entirely, either).  I’m aiming at getting through the categories within the space of this year, though this isn’t set in stone … if it takes longer, it takes longer.  Here are the bingo card and the categories — fellow travelers welcome!  (My master update post can be found HERE.


2. An Alphabet of My Likes and Dislikes

The second project is something I saw in BeetleyPete‘s blog and liked so much that I decided I’ll have a go at it, too — not least because it may also serve as an introduction to those of you who haven’t been following me for a long time yet: an alphabet of (some of) my likes and dislikes.  (I hope Pete won’t be angry at me for stealing his idea … as you know, Pete, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!)  Similar to another moderately recent post of mine, I won’t be selecting any topics / likes and dislikes that you can easily glean from the contents of my blog anyway — such as the fact that I own am owned by two adorable 3 1/2 year old tomcats and that I love books, music, movies, tea, photography and traveling — but for each letter of the alphabet I’ll try to come up with something that defines me as a person in one way or another.

Pete completed his project on the basis of one post per day, and with likes and dislikes separately … I don’t think I’ll have quite the stamina to spread it out this much, so I’ll combine both likes and dislikes in a single post.  (I’ll try to do one a day, but it is possible that life is going to intervene and I won’t be able to stick entirely to that schedule.)

The project’s sole organizing principle is going to be the alphabetical order; “likes” and “dislikes” for the same letter of the alphabet are almost certainly not going to be connected (or if they are, it’s merely going to be a coincidence.)

The project’s master post can be found HERE.


Note: The posts belonging to these two new projects are only posted on my new blog ( ).  Similarly, like all master posts for my blogging projects, those for these two projects can be accessed from the link contained in the sidebar of my new blog.

FOLLOWER ALERT: Moving to a New Blog

As I mentioned in an earlier post,  WP’s massive move to enforce their block editor, which nobody seems to like and which I hate with a vengeance, made me decide to go “self-hosted” in order to be able to continue using the classic editor without having to remember to select it every time I’m creating or accessing a post (and even that selection switch is clearly a disfavored option on these days, so it’s bound to disappear entirely at some point).

I’ve been building the new blog in the past two months and am now ready to officially make the move there.  The address is:

The blog name — Lioness at Large — is going to remain the same, and It’s still a blog using the WP functionality, so you can continue following me using the WP Reader (or follow me by email, of course; just input your email address into the form at the top of the sidebar to the right).  And this present blog ( is not going to disappear; I’m going to keep it as my archive of my past blogging activity.

I’ve switched to a different template for the new blog, however, not only in order to keep the two blogs’ posts distinguishable, but also because the new template allows me more editing options than the one I’m using for this blog.  Then again, for purposes of recognizability I will continue to use — at least for the time being — this blog’s  header showing the Lioness at Large blog title, and also the lioness images on the front page.

To get things started, I’ve seeded the new blog with my posts relating to another reading (and lifestyle) game that my previous blogging community, BookLikes, has enjoyed playing in November and December for the past several years, and which we’ve continued to play this year in our new (private) home, The 24 Tasks of the Festive Season (or simply Festive Tasks, for short): my Master Update Post with links to all individual posts is HERE.

I have also imported most of my posts, pages, and project pages from this blog to the new one; many of these, however, still require some sprucing up, so please be patient if you should run into something that’s not quite working as it should be yet.

I very much hope I’ll be able to welcome most of you in my new blogging home — thank you again for your friendship in the past and present!  Here’s to many more great exchanges on books and other topics in the future.



2020 in Facts and Figures

I already posted my main 2020 in Review and Looking Ahead to 2021 posts a while ago — only on my new blog (separate post to come) –, but I held back on my 2020 reading statistics until the year was well and truly over.  And for all my good intentions when posting my mid-year summary back in early July 2020, the second half of the year continued pretty much in the same vein as the first half had begun; i.e., my statistics for the whole year are still a variation on the theme of Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover, or, 17 charts showing that 2020 was a year of reading Golden Age mysteries written by women (and following other Anglo-/ UK-centric reading proclivities); i.e. comfort reading galore … it was just that kind of year, I guess.

As a result, my Golden Age Mysteries / Detection Club reading project progressed very nicely.  Luckily, as I said in my main 2020 in Review post, I also managed to add a number of new countries to my Around the World challenge, and the gender balance is solidly in favor of women authors: I read almost 2 1/2 books by women for every book written by a man — in fact, I even reread more books by women than the total number of books by men.  So there was at least some progress in other areas, too.  And I liked or even loved most of the books I read in 2020 — including most of the new-to-me books –, which of course was another huge plus; in a year where reading was my go-to source of comfort, at that: most of my ratings were 4 stars or higher and thus, above the rating that marks “average” in my personal scale (3.5 stars).

Still, in 2021 I’m going to make a fresh attempt to refocus on my Around the World reading project, in furtherance of which I’ve also created a Diversity Bingo that I’ll try to get through in the space of this one year (though if it takes longer, it takes longer); and I’ll also try to include more books from my Freedom and Future Library in my yearly reading again.

And now, without any further ado:

Greatest New Author Discoveries of 2020

Classics and LitFic
Bernardine Evaristo
Olivia Manning

Historical Fiction
Dorothy Dunnett
Jean-François Parot
Paul Doherty

Golden and Silver Age Mysteries
Josephine Bell
Moray Dalton
Molly Thynne
Christianna Brand
Anthony Gilbert
Raymond Postgate
Patricia Moyes

My Life in Book Titles

This is a meme I’ve seen on quite a few blogs towards the end of 2020; it was created by Annabel at Annabookbel.  You’re to answer the prompts, using only books you have read in 2020; without, if possible, repeating a book title.  I thought I’d include it in my yearly roundup — and to up the ante a little bit further, I decided to use only books I read for the first time in 2020.

In high school I was Unspeakable (John Bercow)

People might be surprised by (my incarnation as) Lioness Rampant (Tamora Pierce)

I will never be The Horse You Came in On (Martha Grimes), nor Resorting to Murder (Martin Edwards, ed.; Various Authors)

My life in lockdown was like (a) Tour de Force (Christianna Brand) and (a) Tragedy at Law (Cyril Hare)

My fantasy job is The Thinking Machine at Work (Jacques Futrelle)

At the end of a long day I need to be Homegoing (Yaa Gyasi) (to my) Pilgrim’s Rest (Patricia Wentworth)

I hate being (around) Serpents in Eden (Martin Edwards, ed.; Various Authors)

Wish I had The Lost Tools of Learning (Dorothy L. Sayers)

My family reunions are (often with) Thirteen Guests (J. Jefferson Farjeon)

At a party you’d find me with My Friend Mr. Campion (Margery Allingham), Lady Molly of Scotland Yard (Emmuska Orczy), and other Bodies from the Library (Tony Medawar, ed.; Various Authors)

I’ve never been to Goodwood (Holly Throsby), Cherringham (Matthew Costello, Neil Richards), or At the Villa Rose (A.E.W. Mason)

A happy day includes A Small Place (Jamaica Kincaid) (of my own): My Beloved World (Sonia Sotomayor)

Motto(s) I live by: To Love and Be Wise (Josephine Tey); and We Should All Be Feminists (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie)

On my bucket list is Shakespeare’s Local (Pete Brown)

In my next life, I want to have The Grand Tour (Matthew Pritchard, ed.; Agatha Christie)

The Stats

Number of books started: 273
Number of books finished: 271
DNF: 2
Average Rating (overall): 3.9
Average Rating w/o Favorite Annual Xmas Rereads: 3.8

Note: The above chart includes my 6 annual Christmas rereads, which have a habit of slightly skewing my overall rating figures upwards; without these books, the number of 5-star books is reduced by 5 and the number of 4.5-star books is reduced by 1.

Note: “F / M (mixed)” refers to anthologies with contributions by both male and female authors, as well as to books jointly written by male and female authors. — “N / A” in the protagonist gender chart refers to Martha Wells’s Murderbot, who is deliberately created as gender-neutral.

Note: “Multi-ethnic” either refers to several persons (authors / protagonists) of different genders, or to one person of mixed ethnicity.


To my American friends …

… and to everyone who celebrates:

It’s been a difficult year for many of us, but I hope you all still have things to be thankful for! And

for being my friends and for making a difference in my life, this year perhaps more than ever.

The Mystery Blogger Award


I was nominated by arielaonthego for the Mystery Blogger Award — which came as a complete surprise; thank you so much, Ariela!

  • Display the award logo on your blog.
  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  • Mention Okoto Enigma, the creator of the award .
  • Tell your readers 3 things about yourself.
  • Answer 5 questions.
  • Nominate 10 – 20 bloggers.
  • Notify your nominees by leaving a comment on their blog.
  • Ask your nominees 5 questions of your choice, including 1 weird or funny question.
  • Share the link to your best post.


Three Things About Me

… that you can’t already tell from the rest of this blog, I take it (such as the fact that I own am owned by two adorable 3 year old tomcats and that I love books, music, movies, tea, photography and traveling).

1. Strictly speaking part of this, too, is something you can tell from the rest of this blog, as many of my posts are imported and have an “original post: …” link at the bottom, but since it’s fairly key to where I am (literally) coming from and I’ve collected a number of new followers in the past couple of months (welcome, everybody!):

From 2013 until the summer of 2020, I used to belong to a book blogging community called BookLikes. What made the BL website (itself) unique was its format of combining a blogging community with a central “dahsboard” feed and an integrated book database, but the BL community was actually about a lot more — we played book-related games together and shared photos and posts on everything from cooking / baking / dining to gardening and other “off topic” (non-book) interests and views, etc.; all of which, over time, created a truly tight-knit community that was unlike anything I’ve ever seen anywhere else on the web. — I activated my WordPress blog (which in the past had chiefly been my backup for my BookLikes posts) when BL, through the site owners’ neglect, took a nosedive in July … since which time the BookLikes community has been a bit of a traveling circus on the lookout for a new permanent home. (We’ve found a venue for our signature fall book game, Halloween Bingo, and a venue where most of us have agreed to dip at least a toe in the water in order to keep the community together, but the BookLikes site with its unique format is still very much missed.)

That being said, the de-facto BL demise has inspired me to spruce up my WP blog and strike out in the blogging community, which I definitely consider a good thing. The one bit I didn’t realize when I made that decision was that WP has, in the interim, started to push their block editor, which I hate with a vengeance. So, I’ve decided to go “self-hosted” in order to be able to continue using the classic editor (without having to remember to select it every time I’m creating or accessing a post, that is — and even that is clearly a disfavored option on these days, so it’s bound to disappear entirely at some point). There’s nothing much on the new version of my blog, yet, but I wanted to have a chance to set it up in time before goes “block editor without the option” once and for all. I’ll officially share the link to my new blog as soon as I consider the transition (essentially) far enough along the way for it to make sense. For the time being, I’ll be double-posting in both places, so as not to have to rely on WP’s (less-than-perfect) import system — so if you’re using the WP Reader and are seeing two versions of my posts, you’re not seeing double … this one is down to me.

2. I’m a massive hoarder — Marie Kondo and I would never be friends. (In fact, I abhor her attitude to book ownership in particular.) Other than my books, music and DVD collections, I’m channeling my hoarding proclivities into a collection of mugs (not all of them with book-related themes) and a collection of refrigerator magnets (chiefly Shakespeare, travel, and cat-related), but if I had unlimited space, I’d doubtlessly fill it with other things as well.

3. My favorite color is red — which you don’t necessarily see in the clothes I wear (outside the odd red sweater or other, that is), but it’s impossible to miss the moment you enter my apartment: there are plenty of red “touches” to what passes for my version of interior decoration, my “daily use” china, cooking pots etc. are (mainly) red, etc.. Red also features somewhat more prominently in the new, self-hosted version of my blog; as it has done, in fact, in most of the websites that I’ve owned ever since I started dabbling with that sort of thing back in the early 2000s.


My Answers to Ariela’s Five Questions:

1. What is your favorite dessert?

Anything involving either fresh citrus fruit, fresh pineapples, or fresh strawberries.

Anything involving cherry or plum sauce (or compote, or stewed / baked / flambé cherries or plums — I like both cherries and plums better after they’ve been processed in some fashion than when they come straight off the tree, but once they’ve been processed, I like them a lot.)

And anything involving a combination of crème fraîche (or some similar base; e.g. double cream) and wine, port, or sherry.


2. What is your favorite book?

Oh help, I can’t even pin down my favorite dessert to a single option and you’re asking me that? Lol.

Favorite play: Shakespeare, Hamlet. Favorite 19th century classics: novels by Jane Austen and Charlotte Brontë. Favorite Golden Age mysteries: Sherlock Holmes, as well as virtually anything by Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers. Favorite Silver Age and contemporary mysteries: P.D. James, Ian Rankin, Michael Connelly. Favorite fantasy: Tolkien, Lord of the Rings and J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter. Other recent favorites include Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Half of a Yellow Sun; Aminatta Forna: The Memory of Love; and Bernardine Evaristo: Girl, Woman, Other.


3. If you could have one super power, what would it be?

The ability to fly — even if that is a superpower only in humans.


4. Do you like to dance?

Yes, but you don’t want to watch me while I’m doing it!


5. Would you rather have a pet porcupine or a pet mushroom?

Hah. 😀 Assuming that “neither” is not an option, I guess I’d go for the porcupine — I’d probably eat the mushroom at some point anyway (if I wasn’t too scared it was poisonous), and you can’t communicate with a plant (at least not in the sense of getting an immediate response) … whereas you can with an animal. Besides, I once had a cat with a very decided noli me tangere (don’t touch me) attitude, so I could probably get used to a pet with that kind of attitude once again. And generally speaking … more power to any creature (other than humans) coming armed against predators. There’s a reason why I like wild cats (and hate trophy hunters) — and, for that matter, why roses are my favorite flowers.


My Best Post:

Hmmm, that’s a difficult one given that my blog is currently in double transition (from BookLikes to WordPress and within WP from .com to self-hosted). So I think I’m just going to share the links for a few very, very old “battle of the books” posts that have already made their way to the new version of my blog (even if the formatting is still slightly off — and incidentally, it’s pure coincidence that two of them involve works by Tolstoy):

Astrid Lindgren: Pippi Longstocking vs. Leo Tolstoy: Anna Karenina
Mark Twain: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn vs. Harper Lee: To Kill a Mockingbird
Isabella Beeton: Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management vs. Leo Tolstoy: War and Peace


My Nominees Are:

Anyone who sees this and feels they want to do it! (If you do, please drop a link in the comments section of this post.)


My Questions:
  1. What is your favorite season?
  2. Who is your hero / heroine in fiction (and why)?
  3. Would you rather be able to produce literature or music? (Assume that “both” is not an option.)
  4. If you had a time machine allowing you to travel to up to 3 different eras (past and future), what era(s) would you like to travel to?
  5. From a burning building, you have the option to rescue either a [cat / dog / supply your own favorite animal] or a priceless work of art, but not both. Which of the two do you rescue (and why)?

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg ’54 dies | Cornell Chronicle

<Ruth Bader GinsburgProvided

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg ’54 gives remarks in 2007 during the unveiling of a plaque announcing Cornell Law School’s role in establishing the Center for Documentation on American Law at the Cour de Cassation in Paris.


By Blaine Friedlander  | September 18, 2020

Ruth Bader Ginsburg ’54, whose legal career in the fight for women’s rights, equal rights and human dignity culminated with her ascent to the U.S. Supreme Court, and who – as an octogenarian – became a cultural hero and arguably the most beloved justice in American history, died Sept. 18 in Washington, D.C. She was 87.

Ginsburg died from complications of cancer, according to a statement from the Supreme Court.

Ginsburg’s protection of equality and the advancement of the rights of all people, particularly women, helped to transform American society. Working at the American Civil Liberties Union in 1972, she founded the Women’s Rights Project. She researched and argued six gender discrimination cases before the Supreme Court in the 1970s, winning five.

In 1980, President Jimmy Carter appointed Ginsburg to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. President Bill Clinton nominated her to the Supreme Court to replace retiring Justice Byron White in 1993.

Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah had suggested Ginsburg to Clinton, as did U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno ’61, an admirer of her legal work. Hatch, considered by President Ronald Reagan for the high court, called Ginsburg a “highly honest and capable jurist.”

Clinton interviewed Ginsburg and later said he was instantly impressed, submitting her nomination to the Senate the next day. Ginsburg sailed through the Senate’s confirmation.

“Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a true hero and a giant of American jurisprudence. A relentless champion of equity, she dedicated her life to innumerable, honorable causes, always fighting for what was right,” said Cornell President Martha E. Pollack. “While the nation mourns her passing, we can find solace in the indelible imprint that she leaves on American society and on the lives of each of us who found inspiration from her actions and who will carry her spirit with us long into the future.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg was born Joan Ruth Bader on March 15, 1933 in New York City to Celia and Nathan Bader. She grew up in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn and graduated from James Madison High School in 1950.

Her mother Celia died of cancer the day before Ruth’s high school graduation and Ruth missed the ceremony. Years earlier, when Ruth was a toddler, her older sister Marylin observed that Ruth was always kicking. Thus, Marylin had given Ruth her lifelong nickname: “Kiki.” Marylin died at age 6 of meningitis.

Bader Ginsburg’s undergraduate education at Cornell from 1950-54 served as a strong foundation for her subsequent legal education and notable career.

In public talks, the associate justice credited two influential Cornell professors: Robert Cushman, professor of government, and Vladimir Nabokov, then a professor of European literature.

Noted for her precisely worded decisions on the Supreme Court, Ginsburg acknowledged Nabokov’s influence on her own writing. “He was a man in love with the sound of words,” she once said, as he taught her the importance of choosing the correct word and word order.

Nabokov’s first languages were French and Russian; English was his third. “He spoke about what he liked in the English language,” she said once in a talk. “If a speaker wants to say ‘white horse,’ you say ‘white horse’ in the English language.

“You see the white before horse,” she said, “so when you get to the horse, it is already white. In French you say, ‘cheval blanc,’ but you think brown horse first and you have to convert it.”

Joan Ruth Bader majored in government in the College of Arts and Sciences. As an undergraduate, she worked for Cushman as a researcher. He had gained fame as a legal scholar with the influential textbook, “Leading Constitutional Decisions” – a book taught nationally for a quarter century.

Cushman’s influence was equally strong. In the 2016 book, “Ruth Bader Ginsburg: My Own Words,” co-authors Mary Hartnett and Wendy W. Williams describe how the early 1950s kindled Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s (R-Wisconsin) rampant communist fearmongering.

Ginsburg tracked entertainment industry blacklists for Cushman during the McCarthy era, and she cited Cushman for elevating her own awareness of the Constitution and prompting her to apply to law school.

Before that, Ginsburg said, “I didn’t want to think about these things; I really just wanted to get good grades and become successful – but [Cushman] was both a teacher and consciousness raiser.”

In the fall semester of her senior year, Bader provided a glimpse into her thought processes.

Cornell law students once wrote a letter to the Cornell Daily Sun on the topic of wiretapping, suggesting that tapping telephones without warrants was expedient. Ginsburg responded in a Nov. 30, 1953 Cornell Daily Sun letter of her own.

“Wiretapping may save the government investigators a good deal of time and effort by making it unnecessary to seek other sources of proof,” Bader wrote. “But even if the situation today demands increased vigilance on the part of the government, restraints on individual rights in the field of individual privacy, morality and conscience can be a cure worse than the disease …”

She continued: “The … proposal [seems] to be outweighed by the general harm it may well do.”

Over the last six decades, Ginsburg returned to Cornell for lectures and special events. In October 2003, Ginsburg introduced Jeffrey S. Lehman as the university’s 11th president at his inaugural ceremony. She praised Cornell and each of its presidents for the school’s post-Civil War vision of equality in education.

She ended the Barton Hall speech by quoting an 1867 letter from Ezra Cornell to his granddaughter Eunice: “I want to have girls educated in the University, as well as boys so that they have the same opportunity to become wise and useful to society that the boys have.”

Said Ginsburg: “I didn’t know of that letter when I attended Cornell. I would have treasured it then; I treasure it now.”

Life at Cornell
At crowded dances and social gatherings of freshman orientation week for the new class of 1954, “Kiki” Bader stood out, residing in Clara Dickson Hall, the late David Behrens ’54 wrote in a 1993 Newsday feature story.

The dormitory phone never stopped ringing, recalled the late Anita Zicht Fial ’54, who was among the future justice’s close circle of Clara Dickson Hall friends. “It just rang off the hook the whole year, for all of us and for Kiki particularly,” she told Behrens.

An early fall semester blind double date was arranged by the roommate of Martin Ginsburg ’53. The roommate, who was dating a dormitory neighbor of Bader, did not have a car. The roommate persuaded the gregarious Ginsburg – who owned a gray Chevrolet – to drive the foursome to the dance.

“We met as undergraduates at Cornell University on a blind date in 1950 … The truth is, it was a blind date only on Ruth’s side. I cheated. I asked a classmate to point her out in advance,” said Martin Ginsburg in introductory remarks before a Bader Ginsburg lecture.

“’Oh, she’s really cute,’ I perceptively noticed, and then after a couple of evenings out, I added, ‘And… she’s really, really smart.’ And, of course, I was right on both counts,” he said.

At the time, men and women lived in separate campus buildings. Men had more freedom to move about campus at all hours. Cornell women had strict curfews.

Bader participated in the Women’s Self Governance Association, a student government system within residence life. But it would not be until the late 1960s that women attained equal status to men in Cornell’s residence halls.

After graduating from Cornell near the top of her class, Bader married Ginsburg – and followed him to Harvard Law School, becoming one of nine women there in a class of 500. After her husband graduated, joining a law firm in New York City, Bader Ginsburg finished her final year of law school in 1959 at Columbia University.

‘The Notorious R.B.G.’
In the 2013 landmark Supreme Court case, Shelby County v. Holder, 570 U.S. 529, the court struck down two key provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, in a 5-4 decision. Ginsburg wrote the dissenting opinion.

New York University law student Shana Knizhnik was dismayed by the decision, but heartened by Ginsburg’s dissent. Knizhnik created a Tumblr blog, naming it “Notorious R.B.G. –  Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in all her glory.” The blog helped turn octogenarian Ginsburg into a cultural icon for youth and young adults, creating a modern hero.

Knizhnik and journalist Irin Carmon then turned the blog into a book, “The Notorious R.B.G.” that landed on the New York Times bestseller list, spawning T-shirt sales and other sundries, including a “dissent” jabot sold by Banana Republic that replicates Ginsburg’s lace ruffles adorning her judicial robes.

By 2018, the  associate justice’s life story was turned into a major motion picture, “On the Basis of Sex,” with Felicity Jones portraying Ginsburg as a young lawyer.

On the lighter side, Ginsburg has been portrayed by Kate McKinnon on “Saturday Night Live,” and in 2019 the justice even invited late-night television host Stephen Colbert to work out with her at the gym. He could not keep up.

Justice Ginsburg’s cultural popularity never subsided. At the Cornell Reunion in June 2019, Ginsburg surprised Cornelliana Night with a video appearance at her own 65th Reunion before a packed Bailey Hall. When the name “Ruth Bader Ginsburg” lit the screen, the alumni crowd instantly roared. And after she greeted her fellow Cornellians with well wishes, the audience erupted, led by vigorous cheers from the younger Reunion classes: “R-B-G! R-B-G! R-B-G! R-B-G!”

Martin Ginsburg predeceased her in 2010. She is survived by her daughter Jane Ginsburg, a professor of law at Columbia University, and son James Ginsburg, a music executive.


Source: Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg ’54 dies | Cornell Chronicle