Favorite Things

Shiny Objects: Book Lover’s Edition

Shiny Objects book 1

A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.
George R.R. Martin, A Dance with Dragons

A Nook

The Kindle

My Library Card

Quick shipping from Amazon Prime

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: 

Furiously Happy: A Funny Book about Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson

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.”

Bella Grace; Issue 6 Life’s a Beautiful Journey

~~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!”

shiny objects book 2

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.

Spending the Holidays with People I Want to Punch in the Throat by Jen Mann

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 ScourgesAfter 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 FrostSara 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.

Other best-sellers from Sara: Garden Spells, The Sugar Queen, The Girl Who Chased the Moon, The Peach Keeper–I can’t begin to pick a favorite.

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.

Eating Bull by Carrie Rubin

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.
Must read!”

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

shiny objects book 3


63 thoughts on “Shiny Objects: Book Lover’s Edition

  1. kindred souls….always several book at the same time too.
    Generally a fiction, a non-fiction, a memoir and then something spiritual/mindfullness/yoga related.
    I also enjoy playing solitaire on my phone, when it ALL gets too much! LOL….
    I’m a fiction snob though..it really has to be good writing. I can read a bad book if the writing moves me, but not the other way around. I don’t finish a lot of books…there’s just not enough time in the world. I used to love escapist kind of stuff, quick reads, but not anymore. To tell you the truth, that is even getting more and more evident in my non-fiction choices. I don’t care how interesting I find the subject, if the writing is bad I don’t have the time.
    Not memoir tho. I prefer good writing but i am more interested in authenticity.
    OK..here’s the list now: Loving/Kindness by Sharon Salzberg, my current meditation obsession. I’m also all ver the internet doing her guided meditations and listening to podcasts by her…obsessed.
    My Brilliant Friend by Elana Ferrante…..1st in a quartet. I picked it up because of the buzz….i gotta say i’m not loving it. She’s a good writer, but i’m not captured. I barely pick it up. Maybe in the New Year I’ll attempt it again.
    Actually, that is it. I just finished All The Light You Cannot See, which is written so beautifully I can’t stand it. SO good.
    I also recently finished Patti Smith’s M Train. Beyond wonderful, a memoir by an outrageously evocative writer…heaven.
    Just re-read Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach for perhaps the 5th time. Never gets old.
    And I’m digging into yoga sequencing books for the practice.
    LONG response, sorry. But i love books and talking about them…love your list and Christy’s via Brainpicker.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. LOVED your response, Michele. I was in Amazon today and see that “All the Light…” and “M Train” were both recommended for me – now, with your endorsement – it’s a clear sign.
      I don’t have time for bad writing either – clunky dialogue makes me crazy. I will have to look into Loving-Kindness (I do a daily loving kindness meditation) and I have read the Tara’s you sent me to.
      Kindred spirits? FO SHO!


    2. I still haven’t read “All the Light You Cannot See.” I feel like a horrible person. Mary Pierce absolutely raved about it, now you, and oh about 10,000 reviewers on Amazon. It’s not typically a genre (historical fiction?) that interests me, but I think I’ll add it to my must read list. ❤

      Liked by 3 people

      1. You know..I am reading the Ferante quartet and am not impressed, so you never know. The thing about “light” was…i kept re-reading the first few pages…the writing is just luminous! And I finally realized I’ have to power through the book to get the story and then re-read for the writing, which I have done.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Oh, God, Christy — I just fell crazy in love with Doerr’s writing. I will tell you, though, that I was a bit disappointed with the end. But don’t let that stop you from reading it. It’s so worth it. You and Michelle have to read it and then the four of us (I’m counting Mished) can discuss.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Go Set A Watchman broke my heart. Not only that, it was poorly written, which is shocking since I love To Kill a Mockingbird. Truly a disappointment and needed so much editing. I loved Unbroken, but haven’t read much else on your list. I need to check a few out. I read every kind of fiction. I fell in love with Swedish fiction this year and highly recommend A Man Called Ove. Wonderful read.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep, it broke my heart, too. It still breaks my heart. I did feel a little better after finding out the history of the book. I was surprised to learn that Watchman was written first. The editor made her go back and write Scout as a child. Rumor has it that the family was responsible for getting it published while Ms. Lee was in the nursing home–she may not have intended for that story to see the light of day.
      The poor(er) writing and lack of editing all made sense when I learned that fact. That said, it still doesn’t unbreak my heart. I loved Atticus, and now it’s like he never existed.
      I will check out A Man Called Ove. Thank you, Mark!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I knew it was written first, and I wouldn’t be shocked if she had locked it away knowing it wasn’t right. We’ve all seen people do some crazy things for money and I am sure this made a lot of it. I hope they sail away to happy land after diminishing her reputation as an author. Let’s be honest, it was crap. It is embarrassing to her legacy and certainly destroys one of the iconic fictional characters of American literature. It should have stayed locked away.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes! Yes to all of that. My husband couldn’t quite understand why I was so upset, but you just mailed the why. I have several friends who loved a Mockingbird, and I have told them to never read Watchman. Always glad to know I’m not alone.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Inside scoop on Watchman: Mockingbird is so good because Lee spent 2 years rewriting after her editor made the suggestion about Scout. For years, Harper Lee’s sister Alice managed her affairs. Alice died last year. The lawyer who took over Harper’s affairs “discovered” the original manuscript with other papers. Evidently, Lee did agree to having it published with the proviso that it be published “as is” without editing. I knew of the major change in the character, knew my heart would be broken, and decided to forego reading Watchman for that reason.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. How I wish I would have known this before I read (Christy clued me in right after), I would have made the same decision you did.
        So, this begs the question: Could Watchman be considered “good” because it unraveled me? Or, was it because Mockingbird was amazing to begin with?
        I’m going with door #2 🙂


    1. It DOES go too fast! I only have a chapter or two left. I giggle myself to sleep every night…right after I read out loud to my husband. She is amazing!
      I hope you’re doing well, Kristen. Merry Christmas to you and yours! xo


  3. Oooh so much to say, this may be a very disjointed message, even for me. Here goes:
    – You know I met Jenny, right? At her hometown book signing. 🙂 It was awesome; a very intimate crowd. I even made her cry when I told her how inspirational she was to me, and how her funny stories of metal chickens and homicidal monkeys helped me fight those first crazy months of sobriety. She is an absolute angel and deserves all the good things happening for her.
    – Love the pic with Storyteller in it. I hear it’s chop good of delicious goodness.
    – Carrie’s book, “Eating Bull” is in my next up reading. Cannot wait. I’m so glad you two connected!
    – I ❤ Ree.
    – I ❤ Hannah.
    – I ❤ love letters.

    And since I probably won't do a book list of my own… here's my makeshift one for you 🙂

    Last fiction book: Pretty Girls by Karen Slaughter. OMG. She’s a new find to me, but I LOVE her graphic gritty style. And she’s from GA, so I dig all the Atlanta/Athens references. Graphic violence, but very suspenseful.

    Next fiction book: Carrie’s Eating Bull and maybe All The Light You Cannot See

    Last poetry book: The Women Widowed to Themselves by Lora Mathis

    Next poetry book: Collected Poems by Mark Strand

    Last non-fiction: Ongoingness, the end of a diary by Sarah Manguso * This book hit me hard. Sooooo good. I fell in love with her writing (wispy, poetic, flowy, ethereal, lingering). Highly recommend.

    Next non-fiction: The Guardians: an elegy for a friend by Sarah Manguso. I’m devouring all of her work. This one I have a feeling will kick me hard. In a good way.

    Currently reading: Two Kinds of Decay: a memoir by Sarah Manguso, Sarah’s personal story of a debilitating blood disease that struck her in college. It’s mesmerizing. I cannot rave enough about her. I covet her writing skills.

    In que: Carrie’s Eating Bull. I love Carrie and how much she helps other writers on WordPress. She’s so awesome. If she published her grocery lists, I would probably buy them.

    Mary Louise Parker’s Dear Mr. You I’m excited about this one, a lot. It’s been getting rave press. You’d like this too, Mick. Here’s the Amazon description: An extraordinary literary work, Dear Mr. You renders the singular arc of a woman’s life through letters Mary-Louise Parker composes to the men, real and hypothetical, who have informed the person she is today. Beginning with the grandfather she never knew, the letters range from a missive to the beloved priest from her childhood to remembrances of former lovers to an homage to a firefighter she encountered to a heartfelt communication with the uncle of the infant daughter she adopted. Readers will be amazed by the depth and style of these letters, which reveal the complexity and power to be found in relationships both loving and fraught.

    Mary Karr’s The Art of Memoir. Super excited about this one.

    Stephen King’s 11/2/63. I’ve had this on my kindle forever. Waiting for like a solid week off to lose myself in this time travel thriller. It’s supposed to be a masterpiece.

    Jesse Andrews’s Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. Young Adult Fiction. My occasional guilty pleasure.

    Hope all the links come through okay. Sorry for the long comment, I got typing and figured I’d just go all the way with it. 🙂 xoxo

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oooh, baby! You went all the way!
      I’m gonna go back through and check each and every link.
      YOU led me to Jenny, Carrie, Anne, Heather, Mary and so much more. Can you tell that I devour every single person you put in front of me?!
      I’ll be back to say more later, but couldn’t wait to at least send a quick thanks for broadening my reader horizon.
      11/2/63…genius! I read it last year — would read that one again. I love historical fiction with a twist. Later gater!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Soooo….it looks like I need to get started with Sarah Manguso ASAP!
      Btw: this note wasn’t disjointed at all – love the last-next lay out…patterns, baby!
      I am intrigued by Dear Mr. You, and already imagining the new books on my shelves and in my heart.
      Remember the flood I keep never telling you about? One of the biggest losses was my huge book collection – every book I’d read/kept since third grade gone in less than 5 minutes–carried away by the Shunganunga Creek. In just the last year, I’ve moved back into collecting pages and hardbacks again. It feels good 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    3. I also have Furiously Happy, signed by Jenny in Boston. I gave her a hug and told her she saved my life (a story for one day). She is all that you say she is. Furiously Happy is furiously funny. Saw the movie they made from Me and Earl and loved it. Have tissues handy.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I wanted to find Jenny during her recent launch, but nobody ever comes to KS. She is one fascinating, awesome, beautiful bad-ass woman.
        I can’t wait to hear your story (sorry I kept interrupting the story you were working on yesterday!)


  4. I read Go Set a Watchman. I had a lot of mixed feelings about it because I’m not convinced Harper Lee wanted it out there.

    Books I loved this past year included The Kind Worth Killing and Career of Evil (the latest in JK Rowling’s new series; or Robert Galbraith which is her pen name).

    Thank you so much for including my book! What a treat to be listed with these wonderful reads. I very much appreciate your support. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m not convinced she wanted it out there either. I want my Atticus back 🙂
      Thank you for the heads up on JK Rowling–I didn’t know about her pen name.
      And, you are most welcome for the shout out. I want people to know about your book!


      1. Haha! Believe it or not, I think there actually is a book of found grocery lists. I remember reading about it a few years ago. Some people’s lists and combinations are quite baffling and amusing. You could do limericks, sure, and leave them in the basket as a treat for the next shopper 🙂


  5. As my kids can tell you, beside running, I love books. I just finished “Ava Comes Home” by Lesley Crews (sort of a local author). I can’t wait to read her other books now. I, too, will have several books on the go. One I read while I eat breakfast, one I read on the go, and one I read at bedtime. Often different genres. Andy Weir’s “The Martian” has become a recent favorite. I like picking out the differences between Game of Thrones the book and Game of Thrones TV show. Unbroken was a fantastic read!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh! Game of Thrones! I was amazed to see how similar the dialogue is in the book and the show (though, I’m only in the first book and caught up in the series)
      Don’t you love reading local authors and people you know? I think it makes the experience more personal. At some point, I’m going to highlight the books my bloggy friends have written.
      “The Martian” needs to be on my list–I keep hearing great things about it.
      Thank you so much for stopping by — I need to stop by and see what you’ve been writing!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I just bought Furiously Happy, but can’t dive into it until I finish 2 books I’m in the middle of: Your Soul’s Plan, and Your Soul’s Gift, both by Robert Schwartz. I’m reading them to later blog about them, and I have to say that they both resonate with me tremendously. If you search on Twitter for #YourSoulsPlan, I’ve been tweeting as I’ve been reading. Such great stuff! They are about how we, as souls, plan our lives before we are born. There is so much to it, it’s insane! And what we, as mere mortal humans think as we live our lives, is often backwards to how our souls see things. Much of what he writes about, totally jives with what I’ve discovered along my own healing journey, through my own personal experiences. Beautiful works.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Wow, Michelle. Fab post. This is the most commenting I’ve done in months. I guess you can tell that next to reading books, I love talking about books. But it’s late now where I am. I’m laying in bed with my laptop hoping to fall asleep soon. I’ll come back later and give you my list.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, thank you for adding to the conversation. I threw this mess together before heading out for a 7-mile hike. I was thrilled to come back and find my friends talking about books. There is truly not enough hours in the day. I’m heading to Amazon right now to get my next hardcover fix.
      Have a great holiday, Mary and thanks for stopping by to visit. xo


  8. Jenny Lawson’s books always make me deliriously happy – and ridiculously-sad.
    I know I’ll never each her level of success or acclaim and that always brings me way, way down.
    But life goes on, right?
    I’ve recently learned to be content with my life as a hack.
    On that happy not, have a very Merry Christmas, Michelle.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. The Girl who Chased the Moon and The Peach Keeper sound FASCINATING! I want to read them just for the titles!

    I recently read Shark Fin and Scechuan Pepper, which was good but not as good as I hoped. I’m now onto Garden of the Gods (Gerald Durrell – ALWAYS a fave and a brilliantly evocative read), 1000 Gifts (Anne Voscamp – no idea; not into it yet) and I just finished something about card-counting in Vegas, which was AWESOME but I forget the name of it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. OOooohhh…more choices!!
      I DO think you would love The Girl Who Chased the Moon and the Peach Keeper. Be sure to start with Garden Spells though. The books work independent of each other, but it’s amazing to see the magic from one book subtly flow to the next. Thank you for popping in today my friend. I just hopped over to your place, too. xo

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I tend to binge read, I’m incredibly sporadic when it comes to reading. I think it’s a mood that has to settle in over me, where I feel chill and then I can read. Thanks for the 411 on these!
    Mama, I hope you and the family have a very Merry Christmas.

    Peace and love

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I shouldn’t judge without having read, but you’re the umpteenth reader of H Lee’s Watchman to be so disappointed. Dunno why she did that, esp after crafting those characters so carefully as she did in Mockingbird. Merry Cmas, my friend.


    Liked by 1 person

  12. 1. Great list, darling
    2. I laughed my ass off while reading Furiously Happy ( but also cried ) one of my favorite books of 2015 ( I love Lawson SOoooo damn MUCH that I kind of stalk her! ) Also loved…. Girl on a Train, The Good Girl, & Kitchen House
    3. When I finished reading To Kill a Mockingbird, I was like, YESSSSSS, I get why this is called a classic!! OMGGGOSH.
    4. I ‘ve not read Watchmen ( probably will not)
    5. Love that you’re promoting Carrie’s book, Eating Bull
    6. You rock like Gaga.

    Love from MN. x


    1. I finished Furiously Happy last night – so sad that it’s over. Like you, I love Jenny Lawson.
      I loved Girl on a Train, too! Fast-paced and frustrating! I want to write something like that! Fiction escapes me and I’m so appreciative of those who do it well.
      We are two kindred spirits – that makes me furiously happy 😉
      Much love from KS

      PS: I saw your pretty face on FB this morning. YOU rock!


  13. Thank you so much for this post! I am always in need of book recommendations! NEW BLOG! I would be so greatful if you visit my blog and read some of what I have written! Thank you! Rosypop xx

    Liked by 1 person

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