this november reading frenzy is brought to you by october, who ushered in the beginning of the cold months here in montana, the shorter days and wool blankets. these are the perfect backdrop to devouring books by lamps & candlelight. my to-read list is an ever-evolving pile i stack up in my mind - or on goodreads - and thanks to the library, i keep finding more gems. there's a heap of books on our farm table constantly for admiring and perusing. & i've been enjoying so many lately i just had to share them with you so you can welcome your winter months with some books-worth-reading in your hands.
first out of the gates is my current obsession: Elizabeth Gilbert's Big Magic. have you read this yet? i'd love to hear your thoughts. this is a book i kept hearing about so i skipped this bestseller's lengthy-hold-time-wait at the library & just bought it outright so i could devour it with underlining and some occasional coffee spills. i've stuck with Elizabeth through all the hype & criticism of her earlier works ( Eat, Pray, Love, namely ) & this book feels like she's busted out, ripped down the curtains & is speaking boldly & with experience earned clarity about being a creative. this is a must read. the end.
i just read Sasha Martin's Life from Scratch, wildly, in 3 sittings. i cried. it is a deeply moving recounting of her childhood and life story which leads her to the present: her successful cooking & food blog & being a wife & a mom. i hadn't heard of her blog before reading the book, so i had no preconception of what the book should be talking about : ie. cooking. it's more of a memoir, and one of the best i've encountered. a lovely, lovely read.
any essays or non-fiction by Barbara Kingsolver these days is on my reading list, and now on my bookshelf thanks to a crazy library fundraising book sale at the local mall here. i detour for a short story:
we have one mall, it's on main street, and we go there hardly ever. i'd rather be at the library. however, however, on a particular Sunday when we were looking for something like a pair of jeans or a sweater - i can't even recall - we stumbled upon the library's annual fundraising book sale. i did not know this existed, as we've only lived in Kalispell for 5 months now. but there we were, embarking unexpectedly on a sea of long tables drowning in books and people gathered around them hovering like expectant book vultures. the signs said "book sale at 11". it was 10:55. we had struck a literary gold mine. at precisely 11 the invisible gates were unhinged and folks were digging through books swiftly and wild-eyed, yet all the while cordial, of course, because we're dignified readers. but i grabbed a brown paper grocery bag & started digging along with them. the price of books?: fill your big paper grocery bag for $2.00. TWO DOLLARS. forget the mall & the potential of jeans, this was epic! best use of the mall, ever. i dug & dug & found wendell berry, ruth reichl, michael pollan and six of barbara kingsolver's books. this was one of my favorite days ever. all that to say: Barabara's writing stops me in my tracks and makes me think, really think. the way her mind works keeps me flabbergasted at the intricacy and beauty of language and story. Small Wonder is a favorite books of essays, right alongside with High Tide in Tuscon.
also, a humble opinion --- essays are the new blog posts. something to think about.
my friend ashley gifted me the book What It Is by Lynda Barry for my birthday a few months ago, something unexpected & nothing i had ever heard of. ashley is one of the most vibrant, creative souls i've ever known and when she told me this book opened her up and blew her mind, i paid attention. made of full-page collages Barry has crafted with photographs, handwritten notes, sketches, text... it's a book you sit with for a long while, taking your time, page by page, with a cup or four of coffee. i'm currently about a third of the way through and when i read/look at the pages i keep a notebook closeby. there are moments of revelation that come to mind about creating, about determination, and for me, even a thread of creating midst depression. this book is an avenue to places inside untapped, or hidden away with cobwebs.
the book Stir: My Broken Brain and the Meals that Brought Me Home caught my eye because of the cover, which, let's be honest, is true for a lot of books and bottles of wine. & then i read the title and knew i had to get my hands on this book. the library here is a revolutionary place and i simply asked them to order it for me and they did. i want to hug them. i read Stir... on the heels of Life from Scratch, and although i felt it lacked the depth and raw expression of Life from Scratch had, it was still a very good read and again, a food memoir about healing, which might be my favorite genre at the moment.
when my friend alicia told me about Marie Kondo's book, she said something about "tidying up" and "magic" and my ears perked up because those words generally aren't used in the same sentence. the premise is this: only keep in your home things that spark joy. i'm reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up right now and happy to say it's not the usual "get your shit together" kind of self-help book i've seen so often. Kondo's writing about the tangible clutter we keep in our homes is intelligent and entirely insightful - also, bold and honest. i think this book has something to offer everyone, which is why it's a best seller.
what are you reading these days/ this colder month? i've found most of my favorite books have come to me via friends and their personal recommendings, which is why i wanted to share these books with you this morning. valso, to promote the heck out of the library. seriously. do you have a library card? if not you should acquire one immediately and then gather up a stack of books that strike something curious in you, take them home and dive in. the joy & discovery is infinite. words and new ideas, blankets, firewood and snow. bring on the goodness of the colder months.