Quirky Misfits

unnamed-1Allison’s Post #2 2018

Although I was commissioned to write a reading blog post, I feel like it is appropriate to share with y’all my first finished knit of the year.  This is probably the fourth or fifth time I have made this Tincan Knits Antler Hat; this one is in Lorna’s Laces Monsters Yarn in Mouse Grey . I added a pom pom and some length to the ribbing from the original pattern.  It was very cozy ,while it was in the teens, here, this past week.

So back to why I am here:  this week I am talking about one of my favorite contemporary literary archetypes: the quirky misfit.  These characters are always socially inept but often charming as they try to fit into a world that they do not understand.  Don Tillman, the protagonist of Graeme Simsion’s The Rosie Project, is the first that comes to mind when I am thinking about this category of fiction.  If you have not read this charming little book I highly recommend it.  Don is a professor in Australia who has decided that he has reached the point in his life where he needs a wife.  So, as a scientist, he embarks on a project to find the “perfect” woman. Of course, he meets his opposite in bartender, Rosie, and hilarity ensues.

This past summer I read Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler, a modern retelling of The Taming of the Shrew. This book takes place in Baltimore and also follows an academic family and their “spinster” daughter, Kate.  Kate is a rebel who had a promising scientific career but quit school before she completed her degree and now focuses on caring for her mad scientist of a father. When he introduces her to his new lab assistant Pyoder sparks fly, but will it lead to romance? If you have seen any Shakespeare comedy you probably see where this is going.  I had a lot of fun reading it after I saw the play at Shakespeare in Park and it was fun to hear about Baltimore landmarks.  Baltimore, also known as “Charm City” is a city I have a lot of affection for despite its reputation, it may in fact be the quirky misfit of cities.

My favorite fiction book I read this past year was Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. Eleanor’s solitary and routine- filled life changes one day when she and a coworker help an older man who has collapsed on the street.  It reminded me a little of  A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Bachman because it is a feel-good story but wades into darker territory as we explore Eleanor’s lonely upbringing.

If nonfiction essays are more up your alley I had so much fun reading Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson.  Jenny, aka “The Bloggess”, is hilarious as she write essays about how she has learned to live with her sometimes crippling depression.   Jenny quotes the Breakfast Club to say “we’re all pretty bizarre, some of us are just better at hiding it”. Another book of essays by an awesomely bizarre writer is We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby. Samantha has been a part-time writer, full time vet tech in Evanston, IL for almost 20 years when she published this book after meeting her wife on the internet and moving to Grand Rapids, MI.  I, again,  loved to hear about a place that I have lived and I  laughed out loud at the airport reading about Samantha’s “application” to The Bachelor.  As much as I love to watch The Bachelor, it is not a place for a quirky misfit; although, this season features a girl with a pixie cut (GASP, short hair?!) so maybe there will be space for us there one day.  Oh yes, if you haven’t figured it out I have a lot of affection for these characters because, as my mother so lovingly pointed out when I told her about this post, I too am a quirky misfit, but luckily I have always managed to find my place.


  • Vinegar Girl and Accidental Tourist are the only books I have read by Anne Tyler. Does anyone have any other recommendations?
  • Which city is your favorite for a book setting?
  • Are these blog posts too long? Should I try to edit my thoughts for next week?

Books on my shelf:

  • Vacationland (John Hodgman)- this book made me laugh out loud reading it at the brewery the other day.
  • Lily and the Octopus (Steven Rowley)- I have probably read 10 pages since last week, this book is becoming my nemesis
  • We’re Going to Need More Wine (Gabrielle Union)

23 thoughts on “Quirky Misfits”

  1. Love the hat! I might have to give that pattern a hard look.
    As for the cities I like to read about, I am a seasonal reader. In winter I want stories set in cold climates like Burial Rites by Hannah Kent. Last summer I read and loved The Poisonwood Bible. I also can’t wait for another book in the #1 Ladies Detective Agency when it gets hot-and I always pull out Precious’s favorite rooibos tea for my afternoon cuppa.


  2. I have that Antler Hat in my queue. Yours is beautiful. I think mine shall also be grey. With a dark blue furry pom pom.

    You blog postings are not too long …..just perfect.

    DH and I are both quirky misfits. Thankfully our individual “brand of crazy” fits well together. LOL

    I am currently reading Eleanor Oliphant ————loving it and thank you for not posting any spoilers. I am very, VERY curious about all the details to be revealed, but I’m letting them unfold as I read through (rather than skipping ahead to figure out the curiosities).

    Happy reading. Happy knitting!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Love the Antler Hat. I need to maybe look at that pattern…I want to knit a hat (but then I already have so many patterns I haven’t knit yet…).

    haven’t read any of the books you mentioned…though I’m thinking Eleanor Oliphant sounds good. I loved A Man Called Ove.

    I’ve read a bunch of Tyler’s books, but grew tired of them. I’ll just list some of my most favorite EVER books:
    Crossing to Safety and also Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner (first set in Vermont, other out west)
    Ahab’s Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund – beautiful writing/language
    The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver – all of her books (fiction and nonfiction) are great
    The Song of the Lark and My Antonia by Willa Cather

    So many more, but that’s a start.

    Your post length seems perfect to me.


    1. I read Ahab’s Wife quite a few years ago but I remember loving it. Crossing to Safety is on my list to read for this year and I may have to add My Antonia, seems appropriate while I’m living out on the prairie.


  4. I love your Antler hat! I’ve only knit two, but that pattern is a favorite of mine. And I love your post. I think quirky misfits make some of the best protagonists. I was a little unsure about The Rosie Project because it felt like we were laughing at Don instead of with him, and it just made me uncomfortable to be making fun of someone on the spectrum. Maybe that’s why I loved Eleanor Oliphant so much; it didn’t seem as if Honeyman was making fun of Eleanor at her expense, and I thought the darker explanations brought more realism to the story. If you liked Ove, you might enjoy Millard Salter’s Last Day by Jacob Appel if you haven’t read it. Millard is quirky, surrounded by even quirkier colleagues and family, and I thought the book was much more thoughtful and thought-provoking than Ove.

    I find many of Tyler’s books very similar, but probably enjoyed Breathing Lessons and The Beginner’s Goodbye most. More quirky misfits and family!

    Setting isn’t one of the more important aspects for me in a book. I probably prefer a rural setting more than a city, but I’ll read almost anything if it’s a good story well-told.

    And no, definitely not too long! I don’t think you need to edit your thoughts for brevity. I thoroughly enjoyed reading all of them, especially your suggestions for quirky misfits in nonfiction.


  5. Great hat Al! And just in time for a real test! Great post, too! Anne Tyler is one of my fave. Fiction authors – her characters are so quirky. I think I”ve read all her books except the last two…for sure, not the one you’ve shared. My fave: A Slipping-Down Life ~ story of a girl who falls in love with a “would-be rock star” who has a gig at a roadside bar/cafe´. What the girl does to get his attention will have you whooping out-loud.
    Glad it’s warmer all around. Have a great week!


  6. Your hat is spectacular! Can you model it for us? I tend to make beret style hats for some reason.. maybe so I can look like a avant garde actress or spy? 🙂 The only book you listed that I’ve read is the “Man Called Ove”. Did you read “The Miniaturist”? It was quite something. I’m now reading “Little Fires Everywhere” by Celeste Ng. Enjoy your reading! ((hugs)), Teresa 🙂


  7. I love your hat too. I have read “The Accidental Tourist” and “Breathing Lessons” by Anne Tyler and I enjoyed both of them. I enjoyed reading “The Book of Speculation” by Erika Swyler. It’s a mystery that has a quirky misfit character but it is not a totally lighthearted read.


  8. Oh you know us. We love a good knit share! I wrote down The Rosie Project and Vinegar Girl for future note. My husband and son really enjoyed A Man Called Ove, I’ll tell them about Eleanor Oiliphant …

    I have heard mixed reviews about Lily and the Octopus – put your time where its worth it, but if you finish it (or even if you don’t) tell us what you like and what you didn’t.

    All the best.


  9. Hmmm quirky misfit. Seymore Glass fits the bill but Salinger denied us more than one short story by him: “A perfect day for bananafish”
    You are sparking great comment conversation AL ! WE needed a spark on the blog! THank you!


  10. The length of your posts are fine. I have the Eleanor book and the Rosie Project one on my TBR. I may add the Vinegar Girl one. I took that personality survey from the link you had posted last week. I had an inkling of what I would end up as and yep! I’m a rebel.


  11. My son is currently reading “Eleanor Oliphant,” and enjoying it.
    I loaned my copy of “Furiously Happy” to someone, and, sadly, it was never returned.


  12. Length of your posts is fine! And the hat is gorgeous. My book club meets later this week and we will decide what we read for 2018; I am now going to suggest Eleanor Oliphant.


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