A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.
― George R.R. Martin,
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These are the ways I gain access and devour books in my path. If you’ve read here enough, you’ll know that I’m distracted by shiny objects, new hobbies, big projects, and life goals. My reading habits are no different. It’s not unusual for me to have three or four books going at once–often in entirely different genres. Karen at Mended Musings shared her list, What I’m Reading this Winter, so it inspired me to share the tattered pages, marked-up prose, and words that I’ve been reading over the last few weeks.
Books I’m reading now:
After consuming her first book, “Let’s Pretend this Never Happened,” I couldn’t wait to get my hands on her new memoir. In only the way Jenny can, she writes about depression with humor, authenticity, and in-your-face-awesomeness.
“If you put a bunch of chameleons on top of a bunch of chameleons on top of a bowl of Skittles what would happen? Is that science? Because if so, I finally get why people want to do science.”
“I wish someone had told me this simple but confusing truth: Even when everything’s going your way you can still be sad. Or anxious. Or uncomfortably numb. Because you can’t always control your brain or your emotions even when things are perfect.”
~~discovering magic in the ordinary
My blood pressure drops when this beautifully photographed quarterly arrives in my mailbox. A high school friend told me about BG and then encouraged me to submit my work. I would, but I’ve been too enthralled with the colorful words and striking photography.
“It’s true that rules are made for a reason, but it’s just as true that some rules are made to be broken, especially those that, when broken, bring a lot of (safe) happiness. Clothing patterns can be mixed. Journals can be written in any direction. You can have frozen yogurt for lunch if you really want. ~~Christen Hammons; Editor-in-Chief
If You Find This Letter by Hannah Brencher
I was born a hopeless romantic–Austin, Alcott, Dickinson. I spent my childhood days with these ladies. I’ve always migrated to the written word–the love letter.
“To try to ward off the feelings of disconnectedness, Hannah began writing her doubts, hopes and daily thoughts into letters. She started picking strangers out on her commute and writing notes for them. Eventually, she began leaving the letters all across Manhattan for people to find–in doctors’ offices, in coat pockets, in library books, and in coffee shops.”
Expect to see more love letters in 2016. There are many contributors lined up for Lil’ Mama’s Love Letter guest series–watch for a few delicious surprises, too.
The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Dinnertime by Ree Drummond
Love Love LOVE Ree Drummond. Beyond a standard cookbook, this collection of dinnertime delectables reads like a fireside conversation. If you are a fan of Ree’s Food Network show, you’ll fall head-first for the cookbook. The oversized pages feature her classic down-home cooking style and recipes with incredible prairie photography (most of it is hers).
“There’s no time like dinnertime! Oh, don’t get me wrong. I adore breakfast. I love lunch! But dinnertime definitely tops them all. It’s the time of day when we reunite with our sweeties, our kids, our friends, our parents…and catch up on the events of the day over something mouthwatering and delicious. Dinnertime anchors us, nourishes us, and reassures us. It’s the greatest meal of the day!”
What I have finished reading: mixed reviews
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
“In boyhood, Louis Zamperini was an incorrigible delinquent. As a teenager, he channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that carried him to the Berlin Olympics. But when World WarII began, the athlete became an airman, embarking on a journey that led to a doomed flight on a May afternoon in 1943.”
Truly an instance where the movie was good, but the book was better. Typically a speed reader, this book took me several weeks to finish. It was exhausting, emotional, and inspiring. If you want an amazing story about the unbreakable, resilient human spirit then this one is for you.
Jenn’s most recent offering is a sequel to her popular and hilarious book People I Want to Punch in the Throat: Competetive Crafters, Drop-off Despots, and Other Suburban Scourges. After reading the first laugh-out-loud best seller, I pre-ordered and waited for the holiday version. While it produced ample belly laughs, there was too much mean sarcasm for me. Given that I like Jen as a writer, I gave her the benefit of the doubt and already know that I’ll read whatever she writes next. There was enough funny to keep me going, but I concluded that this poor woman must be trying to heal a hurt somewhere by lashing out at anyone in her holiday path. Poor Elf.
First Frost, Sara Addison Allen
Ooopsies. My romantic petticoats are showing again. I love everything Ms. Addison Allen writes. A touch of romance with a pinch of magic. Add to that, her characters are bakers, gardeners, and mamas, and grandmas–it’s no wonder I’m so drawn to her. If I were to ever venture into writing fiction, hers is the style I would try to emulate.
“It’s October in Bascom, North Carolina, and autumn will not go quietly. As temperatures drop and leaves begin to turn, the Waverley women are made restless by the whims of their mischievous apple tree… and all the magic that swirls around it. But this year, first frost has much more in store.”
“Maybe you don’t have to be led into the future. Maybe you can pick your own path. Maybe you don’t fall in love. Maybe you jump. Maybe, just maybe, it’s all a choice.”
Mini-spoiler: this apple tree throws its apples when it gets grumpy.
Hold Still: a Memoir with Photographs by Sally Mann
I bought this book on a whim while stuck in Hartsfield-Jackson airport. I opened the first page, and couldn’t put it down until I finished.
Sally Mann is best known for her controversial work and photography of her children in an earlier book. I bought this book for the photography and stayed for the words. With elegant and gorgeous writing, Sally lured me into her genius, technical photographic mind as well as her unique childhood.
“In this riveting memoir, a unique interplay of narrative and image, Mann’s abiding concerns–family, race, mortality, and the storied landscape of the American South–are revealed as almost genetically predetermined, written by her DNA by a colorful cast of characters who came before her.”
I have marked up countless pages within the hardback cover – word combinations, phrasing, and poetic paragraphs that make me covet the caliber of her talent.
Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
To be reunited with twenty-something Scout after a multi-decade absence my heart happy:
“She was a person who, when confronted with an easy way out, always took the hard way. The easy way out of this would be to marry Hank and let him labor for her. After a few years, when the children were waist-high, the man would come along whom she should have married in the first place. There would be searching of hearts, fevers and frets. Long looks at each other on the post office steps, and misery for everybody.”
Little did I know that the misery would eventually belong to me. By the middle of the book, I wished I’d never picked it up. Not to divulge any spoilers, but my favorite characters turned out not to be who we thought they were in Mockingbird–it took me several days to recover. Some things cannot be unread, but I’m trying.
Many of you already know Carrie. Carrie is a self-proclaimed introvert and practicing physician with a mighty pen. After Christy told me about Carrie, I read The Seneca Scourge as well as Eating Bull. In each instance, I was on flights to and from Atlanta. I finished Eating Bull in two round-trips–I couldn’t put it down. From my review at Amazon:
“From the beginning, the reader will feel the plight of the multi-dimensional characters fighting internal and external battles. On the surface, the plot thickens as the reader tries to determine who is killing morbidly obese community members.
Beneath the surface, you see the effects of demographics, family, culture, and fast food on the health of a nation.
As a registered dietitian, I appreciated the authenticity of the community health setting, the challenge of fighting obesity, and the selfless mission that public health servants are called to.
As a reader, I was enthralled by the characters and the plot. The final twist was hidden until the very end, and I couldn’t put the book down until I knew everything.
Ms. Rubin does a fantastic job of sharing an important message without preaching–allowing the reader to reach his or her own conclusion.
Odds and Ends:
Because this list was getting too long, I’ll end with a list of books I keep on my desk or in my nightstand for impromptu reading. Like shoes, a girl can never have too many books.
Wicked Plants (Amy Stewart), The Big, Bad Book of Botany (Michael Largo), and Fifty Plants that Changed History (Bill Laws), Poor Richard’s Almanack (Benjamin Franklin), The Elements of Style (Strunk/White/Kalman), Leaving Home (Garrison Keillor), Bird by Bird (Anne Lamott)
Adding to my obsession, as if on cue, Christy sent me The 15 Best Books of 2015 from Maria Popova at Brainpickings–looks like my next few months are set.
Happy Reading everyone!
Your turn: What are you reading these days? What are some of your personal favorites and why? Any disappointments?
Sending you love and prayers for a blessed holiday season. See you next week. xo