Reflections on Reading

September 19, 2021

Our first big soggy storms of the season have hit now and the above quote from the pages of Bella Grace seems a good fit.

As Summer winds down I find myself reflecting on my reading over the last few months. I’ve realised not all of my best reading has been within the pages of actual books. While my Summer Reading List and all of its associated best intentions may be less accomplished this year, I actually feel I’ve discovered some of the best writing I’ve read in a long while; small joys found unexpectedly. It’s all been book-related though and may lead to even more book reading so don’t ever think I’ve gone cold on my beloved caressable pages!

And so, as we hunker down on a dreary day, I am sharing a few of those unexpected joys of reading I encountered this Summer (may all the links connect forever and ever!) Each of these lovely finds deserves a blog post of its own but for now, please be introduced, tap on the links, and enjoy.

Rob Walker – The Art of Noticing – The Art of Noticing is a book but the newsletter associated with it has grown legs of its own and is a worthy addition to any inbox; so many pondering prompts within. I loved a piece written about the interesting conversations we may be missing due to our dependence on Google. One regular feature is called Dictionary of Missing Words in which we’re asked to pay attention to the “sensations, concepts, feelings, slippery things – that could be named but don’t seem to be” For instance: “The feeling you have when hearing the garbage truck outside and you haven’t put the garbage can at the curb yet …Rob Walker The Art of Noticing Newsletter

Katherine Centre – Katherine Centre is a novelist whose books (Things you Save in A Fire, How to Walk Away) are colourfully queued up in my TBR pile. The gorgeous covers alone! Sigh. I became more motivated than ever to read her books after encountering her essay: The Joy of Reading. Read the whole thing because I guarantee you’ll love it but here’s a little glimpse: “Because stories are, at their cores, emotion machines. They can make us laugh, make us cry, make us angry, make us fall in love, make our hearts sprint with fear. They distill human experience, and capture its meaning, and connect us to our humanity like nothing else can. They are the closest thing we have to magic.” Find the essay here on her website.

Ann Patchett – We know her and love her for Bel Canto, State of Wonder, The Dutch House… and I yearn to visit her bookshop Parnassus Books in Nashville. Her fresh essays in The New Yorker and Harper’s were a Covid era delight for me and for so many others. I beseech thee, pour the tea and sit down for a spell to read these heart wrenchingly beautiful essays.

My Three Fathers

These Precious Days

Cup of Jo Blog – I stumbled upon this blog over a decade ago. We were all new to blogging then and Joanna Goddard seemed to have an early grip on what it was all about. She has built an awesome (in the true sense of the word: eliciting awe) community of readers who comment freely and often and without fear of judgement. The comments are abundant because Joanna, beyond her own candid insightful writing, has gathered a stable of extraordinary writers and essayists who prompt unbridled engagement with their contributions. Oh, you’ll have the window opened to makeup trends and fashion faux pas and learn what to feed a vegan in 30 minutes or less but the real meat (if I dare say) of the site is in the honest and perceptive writing about small moments in Life. I respect and enjoy every one of the writers but Caroline Donofrio inevitably strikes a chord. Here are two of her Cup of Jo essays that I consider keepers: (And don’t forget to read the comments!)

Do You Have a Not-so-Strange Stranger?

How to Stand Still

Kelly Corrigan – Kelly is an idol. She communicates the truth of so many in a disarmingly genuine way. I have read and loved every one of her books (The Middle Place, Lift, Glitter and Glue, Tell Me More) and now, her podcast and TV show are musts too. I will wind up this far-too-lengthy post with a video link to a speech (subtitles can count as reading too!) given by Kelly. The conclusion might just be the best part (tissues required). The Walker School Commencement Speech.

(A reminder that this post is riddled with links – connect with any/all of the recommendations by clicking on the bold text)

Going to the Movies!

August 28, 2018

It seems movie makers have been inspired by our bookshelves lately and that’s not a bad thing. No debate from me that the book usually takes the cake over the movie but, based on their trailers, I think these will translate to the big screen quite well. If it’s not in the theatre quite yet, it will be soon.

Crazy Rich Asians

I admit, I started off as a reluctant reader of this book when it was selected for book club but ended up enjoying it immensely. The movie looks like just as much pure designer-dressed family saga fun.

The Children’s Act

One of Ian McEwan’s (of Atonement book and movie fame) more recent books. This looks awfully compelling!

The Bookshop

Was impressed by Emily Mortimer in The Newsroom series. Here she is nestled among books and huge stars, Patricia Clarkson and Bill Nighy.

Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

I’ve already seen this one (it’s new to Netflix) and it’s lovely, heartwarming entertainment.

Bel Canto

Can’t wait! Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto remains one of my favourite stories of all time.

Juliet, Naked

So many of Nick Hornby’s novels have appeared on screen and this is the latest.

 

Lots of Brit Lit it seems! Share your reviews … book or movie.

Delightful Discoveries

May 21, 2010

I recently came across an article and was delighted by it for so many reasons.  Firstly, it is beautifully written, by a favourite writer,  Ann Patchett, of Bel Canto fame.  (Bel Canto is a must-read if you have yet to have the pleasure.)  Secondly, it is about the discovery of a charming little town with charming folk and (deep breath) a charming book store. Sighhhh. Should I mention the cherry pie now? Yup. Charming cherry pie!  As it’s a long weekend, many of you are busy packing your duffle bags and setting off up the coastline, to islands, or through the valleys inland. Whether your journey involves ferries or winding roads or you expect to journey no farther than your own back deck, here’s a little trip for you. A few paragraphs to give you a taste – you can read the full article in the New York Times Style magazine here.

“There I was in Petoskey. The houses were wide of porch and steep of gable, many of them painted in the colors favored by seventh-grade girls. Petunias dangled from window boxes. Below the town the sun spread its diamond light over Lake Michigan, over the boats and the swimmers and the shore. The small downtown was a throwback to some simpler idea of American vacations, a couple of ice cream stores that sold taffy and fudge, a gift shop with T-shirts in the window that said lake. Imagine the cast of “Mad Men” driving out to Michigan in wood-paneled station wagons for the summer. Frank Sinatra playing in the hotel bar. Sophisticated restaurants commingling with pie shops. The world was leafy and dappled, quiet and cool. Within 10 minutes I started to wonder how I could spend the rest of my life in Petoskey.  …

When I walked into the bookstore of this dreamy little town, at that moment, all the other bookstores I’ve known in my life fell away. Julie Norcross founded McLean & Eakin Booksellers in 1992, naming it for her two grandmothers. Like the town she comes from, she must have a long history of people falling in love with her at first sight. She’s one of those supremely competent individuals who would have made an excellent pioneer. One imagines she could build a sod house in a pinch, but she can also tell a joke, drink a martini, run a business. The books at McLean & Eakin are arranged to beckon, and there are plenty of big chairs to fall into once you heed their call. It is the kind of store where I could happily spend a summer.  …

It is just so thrilling to be around people who read, people who will pull a book off the shelf and say, “This is the one you want.” People who want to know what I’m reading and will tell me what they’re reading so that while we talk, stacks of books begin to form around us. It’s my own personal idea of heaven. It is also, in this age of the overnighted electronic hand-held, a bit of Americana you aren’t going to see everywhere. Like the town of Petoskey itself, a very good bookstore feels a little nostalgic, a place out of time.”

 Learn more about McLean & Eakin Booksellers here.  Visit Petoskey, Michigan here.

May you have delightful discoveries yourself on this long weekend!

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