They used to be one of the great loves of my life.
When I was a preteen, my family would go to the library once a week, and I would load up with a pile of novels – 10 to 12 at least – to voraciously read during the coming week. I still remember first gasping at Judy Blume’s “Tiger Eyes”, and then checking it out every time I passed it on the rack. My father would grab a few westerns, my mother would have a novel or two atop a stack of gardening books, and my sisters would have a dog’s breakfast of selections from the kid section.
I would read every night, by the light of my tiny reading lamp, until I fell asleep, book slipping from my hand.
And then technology came and brought me information in short snippets. And I stopped reading books. I would buy magazines as a “treat”. To savour over the pages and not have to scroll up or down – or click fifteen times – to see all of the pictures.
Books got lost in the shuffle of everything. “I didn’t have time” to read books. Even as I write this, I shake my head.
My goal this year is to read more books. Whether they’re paper or on the Kindle, they’re going to be whole thoughts that are well-developed and require more than an iota of my attention.
I’m not going to make it a resolution or set a definite goal, but these books are currently stacked beside my bed, and this is why I love them.
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
I bought this on a trip and read it entirely before the trip had finished. It’s a very easy read, and makes a lot of sense. If you read other blogs, you’ll see that lots of gals have taken up “KonMari”ing their homes according to Marie’s advice.
If it brings you joy, keep it. If it doesn’t, then why are you letting it own real estate in your life – that’s basically the premise, but Marie says it in a much more articulate way. My girlfriend told me that she bought it and said, “I was so inspired that I ‘KonMari’ed my closet right away.”
Oh, wow. How motivated of you.
I’d better get on that.
Gardening for the Faint of Heart by Robin Wheeler
So, I’ve read this book three times already, and I know I’ll probably read it again before I start my seeds this Spring. Robin Wheeler was a West-Coaster, and she writes about gardening for people who are complete and utter ignoramuses about gardening, and for people who kind of know that they’re doing.
I am one of the ignoramus people. I so desperately want to make things grow, and I occasionally let frustration derail me. It doesn’t help when all of the heroines in novels just go outside and shove a bit of dirt around and a bloody Secret Garden grows at their fingertips.
I have Mr. Suburble looking over my shoulder and saying, “So… have you EVER grown a carrot?”
Ugh. Mr. Suburble, it’s not that easy.
And no. I haven’t. Carrots are hard, okay? At least it’s hard to grow a quasi-normal one that doesn’t look prehistoric.
But Robin – who passed away a few years back, and that saddened me more than it should have when I found out – writes this book in a way that isn’t judgy. You don’t have to know ANYTHING about gardening before picking up this book. And she makes it seem like you can!
You can grow something. And it’s not as hard as you think. And you should always have something called “manure tea” on hand to feed your dear little plants.
Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling
Oh Mindy. Of course she’s on this list. Her latest book was a gift from Mr. Suburble this Christmas. I sat down and read it right away.
While this book isn’t like her first book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me And Other Concerns, as it is a series of essays on different subjects, Mindy is good escape-reading. She tells it like it is, and she doesn’t apologize for it.
Honestly, the last chapter – entitled, “Why Not Me?” – is my favourite part. I won’t spoil it, but here’s a snippet…
A general assumption about confidence is that women, particularly young women, will have very little of it, and girls will have zero of it. Just the attitude alone makes me sad: “We have to help our girls and teach them to be confident.” Well, guess what, young girls. You aren’t damsels in distress. You aren’t hostages to the words of your peers. You aren’t the victims that even your well-meaning teachers and advocates think you are.
We just assume boys will be confident, like how your parents assume you will brush your teeth every morning without checking in on you in the bathroom. With girls, that assumption flies out the window. Suddenly, your parents are standing in the bathroom with you, watching you brush your teeth with encouraging, worried expressions on their faces. Sweetheart, you can do it! We know it’s hard to brush your teeth! We love you! Which must make girls think, Yikes. Is brushing your teeth a really hard and scary thing to do? I thought it was just putting toothpaste on a toothbrush. I get worried that telling girls how difficult it is to be confident implies a tacit expectation that girls won’t be able to do it.
So yeah. This book is a fun read with some, “Oh, she nailed that right on the head” moments. Worth it.
I am currently reading this book: The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
I have no idea where I got it from. Mom – did you give it to me? I might have bought it in a rogue purchase at Costco. Seriously, I haven’t got a clue where this book emerged from.
But I picked it up after a good binge on the gardening book, and thought, “Hey, this might have a parallel theme!”
At first, the book miffed me. I felt like it was potentially stealing from another very famous garden book (*ahem*, I’ve already referenced it above), but then I realized that Morton was trying to make a connection to Frances Hodgson Burnett, and it was all very faux-historical and romantic.
I’m not finished this book yet, so don’t wreck it for me, but so far, it’s pretty addicting. If you like stories that take place in giant manors by the seaside and often feature the rustling of long skirts upon the waists of prim, overly-concerned-with-etiquette characters, then this is for you.
Knitting for Dummies by Pam Allen
I’m not finished this book either.
I DO know where I got this guidebook to yarn-skills from. My mom gave it to me with a bunch of thrifted knitting needles. I had decided that I wanted to knit, and I was going to do it! YES! KNITTING POWER.
I’ve picked it up and put it down about a gazillion times. And if I end up finding a quilting class that fits into my schedule, I’ll probably put this down again and wait another year before I become a knitting maven.
But if I don’t, I’m going to try to figure this out. My heart wants to skip all of the small stuff and get those gigantic needles and knit with that impossibly chunky yarn, but I’m imagining that I’m supposed to make a scarf or a washcloth first.
We’ll see what happens there.
And that is the stack of books by my bed. Toss in a Fancy Nancy, and a few Arthur the Aardvark books, and that’s the library we have happening in our house right now.
It’s not the stuff of literary dreams. I have the classics in creaky old spines waiting in a box downstairs for another day. But for now, these books are suiting me just fine.
Do you have any titles that should be added to my “must read” pile? I’d love to hear some recommendations.