Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Little Lighter...

Today I hit up two sample sales, finished the last of my Christmas shopping, and got a haircut. Whew! My hair is now up off my shoulders, with lots of layers- I feel so much lighter! It's amazing how fabulous a good haircut can make you feel. Let's take a break from the holiday madness and talk about books! The bookshelf print above is by Jane Mount, you can buy various book combinations on her etsy store, or commission her to paint your favorite books!

I'm compiling a list of books to read in 2010, and I need your help.  What were your favorite books this year? What is on your list for the New Year?

Two books that caught my heart in 2009:

Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah by Richard Bach- the author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull. It's a difficult book to explain- it's about a pilot who meets a savoir in a cornfield and begins to learn from him. It's more philosophical than religious. It's full of quotes like these: "Even though it's changing every second, the sky is always a perfect sky... and the sea is always a perfect sea", and "If you will practice being fictional for awhile, you will understand that fictional characters are sometimes more real than people with bodies and heartbeats." I loved this book so much that W bought me my own copy for my birthday.

Persuasion by Jane Austen- I had seen the movie, and didn't think the book would keep my attention, but I ended up being completely transported by the language and the manners of the era. It inspires me to write love letters in perfect penmanship that my grandchildren will find and read without blushing. Afterwards I watched The Jane Austen Book Club and only fully understood the Persuasion references- seriously annoying. Clearly I need to read more Austen.

So far this is my reading list for 2010:

The History of Love by Nichole Krauss- a couple of people have recommended this and I'm intrigued. It follows the lives of an old man and a young girl, with loneliness as a central theme. Sounds a bit dark, but I'm going to give it a try.

Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon- The story of three (interconnected) strangers, all struggling with their place in the world. One of Publisher's Weekly's Top Ten of 2009.

Prospect Park West by Amy Sohn- A juicy skewering of my Brooklyn neighorhood? Sounds perfect for a cold snowy afternoon at home when Tea Lounge has been taken over by screaming toddlers.

My Life in France by Julia Child with Alex Prud'homme- The story of an inspiring life. And who doesn't like hearing that it's never too late to find you calling? I've linked to the original version, not the gussied up movie version. I hate those!

Songs Without Words by Ann Packer- A story about childhood friendships as strained by the confusion of our adult identities.

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen- this one has to be my next Austin read so I have an excuse to get my hands on the gorgeous Penguin classics edition pictured below...

As you can see, the list is pretty thin... what books are you looking forward to reading? Which new favorites did you discover this year? I can't wait to hear your suggestions!


  1. I love this! Ok, 3 favorites from last year, off the top of my head:

    1) Shadow Country by Peter Matthiessen--I love this guy. He's a naturalist and general champion of all things endangered. He's 80-something years old and I want to be his BFF! Anyway, the book's set in the Everglades at the turn of the century (20th, that is) and is mysterious, sad, funny, LONG...and really good.

    2) Confederates in the Attic by Tony Horwitz--hilarious and also fascinating. I was supposed to read this in college and finally got around to it this summer. Glad I held onto it all these years!

    3) The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by somebody whose last name starts with W. I'm actually in the middle of this right now, so I reserve the right to retract this recommendation if the writing suddenly nosedives, but so far I'm completely hooked. Dogs, Wisconsin, mute boy coming of age, scary uncle, etc.

    As for next year, I'm going to finally tackle The Brothers Karamazov. It's waiting for me in Phoenix, calling to me... And maybe I'll join you for Austen's S&S--I love this edition here. I read Persuasion last year too and really liked it.

  2. Um. Where is the photo of the new haircut!

    As for a good book
    Fruitless Fall- its about the honey bee colony collapse disorder.

  3. Yes, photo of new haircut, please!!

  4. ooh good suggestions! Perhaps I'll snap a photo at this weekend's holiday party!

  5. Wait--how could I forget?! The book I REALLY want to read next year is "You Can Farm" by Joel Salatin--he's the farmer who's interviewed a lot in "Food, Inc." if you saw that. The book is all about how to set up your own farm with 20 acres. (I know, I know, I don't exactly have 20 acres right now...details!) And of course he interjects his philosophy on food and stories from his own experiences trying to fight the Man while Stayin' Alive!!

  6. Allow me to chime in too! The male perspective is sorely lacking, so what follows are some *manly* books I liked in the past year:
    1) THE STAND, by Stephen King (expanded edition!). Yes, it's more than 1100 pages long. Yes, it's a what-if story of life after a catastrophic flu pandemic. And, yes, there's a character named the "Walking Man," a sort of devil incarnate. But all hokey symbols aside, this is a brisk and unforgettable read. Check it out!
    2) WHAT IS THE WHAT, by Valentino Deng as told to Dave Eggers. Sure, you've heard about the Lost Boys of Sudan, but have you ever read a detailed account of their harrowing journey from torched villages, to refugee camps, to minimum wage jobs in an unfriendly America? You should.
    3) DISHWASHER by Pete Jordan. Here's a proposition for you: Rather than chase after a high-paying, prestigious job that everyone wants, seek out a low-paying, stigmatized one. "Busting suds" is just that. Read this book to get a sense of the zen of dishwashing and the freewheeling life you could have if you weren't trying to get anywhere or accomplish anything in particular. The lure of the "bus tub buffet" and other delights might seduce cube dwellers yet.

  7. Lucy- Yes! I've recently had conversations about the feasability of raising chickens. and the idea of a goat came up as well. Apparently they are quite personable!

    Clip Level E- Thanks for joining the conversation! I've read the Stand, and I loved it. I'm not a big fan of horror in general, but the character development in it was top notch. The glowing eyes in the cornfield image still provokes nightmares!

    The other two you suggested sound great as well-the wanderer in me is always intrigued by the idea of going off the grid for awhile!

  8. I forgot to add a couple of titles that occurred to me as I was hefting a beer stein in Ft. Greene:
    1. You Shall Know Our Velocity, by Dave Eggers. Say you wanted to travel the world for a week giving away $32,000 in cash, what would that be like?
    2. The Golden Compass, by Philip Pullman. What if everyone had a visible soul incarnation in the form of an animal? What if you had a truth-telling machine that only you could interpret? Welcome to Philip Pullman's fictional world. Supposedly for kids, but really for everyone.