I won’t lie. I often struggle to finish things I start.
Just last week, I got around to completing a scrapbook of our South Africa trip from 2+ years ago. I’m still dragging my feet to put a wedding album together. That dining set makeover from last fall was my game-changer in the world of Get Your Projects Done Already.
But so far, 2015 has graced me with this ability in the much more relaxed world of reading. And because I’ve directed all my free time to these books, I thought I’d share what I’m loving right now. Maybe you’ll love them, too?
1. Delicious! by Ruth Reichl
Recommended to me by Mom, this was a foodie book – lots of talk of cheese and spices and lengthy meal descriptions (not complaining). The language is elegant and rich, yet playful, and the book blends stories from present day New York City with Midwestern tales of World War II. A thoughtful and charming read.
2. Date Night In by Ashley Rodriguez
Thomas gave me this cookbook for Christmas, and I proceeded to read it for a week straight, much like a novel. Ashley writes at Not Without Salt, and the woman has so much skill in pairing flavors, not to mention her stunning photography. The recipes are slightly more adventurous than what I’m used to cooking, which I believe is a good thing. I’ve already tried a handful and may have found a second love in the tarragon aioli.
The recipes are divided first into four seasons, then broken down into date night menus that include a cocktail or drink, appetizer or side, main dish and dessert. Ashley also gives an introduction to the menu based on her own date nights in.
“Together we are eclectic, introspective, creative, and funny – basically one hell of a person. A decade into this thing called marriage, I no longer wish for Gabe to be different, or more like me. Instead, I’m able to see the very reason why we are a team. Our differences attracted me to Gabe, drove me absolutely crazy, and made us strong. Gabe and I are soul mates, but we worked damn hard to get here” (p. 37).
This book is special, and I’m marking it up with joy.
3. The Nesting Place by Myquillyn Smith
My sister gave me this one, also for Christmas. The Nester is not a DIY blog, but Myquillyn instead focuses on loving your home in its imperfections – not waiting for the next house to be the dream house. It’s filled with practical tips (like where to save and where to splurge), but the greatest value of this book is its reminder of why we create inviting spaces and rooms in the first place.
In one section, she writes about the apology trap:
“I always apologized for my home to protect myself so people wouldn’t think I was a slob, or at least so they would know that I acknowledge I can be a slob and that I’m not okay with it and that really I have much higher standards than this and my house does not meet my requirements. But that day, I realized that when I apologize for my home, I’m declaring to all within earshot that I’m not content. That I’m silently keeping score. That I put great importance on the appearance of my home and maybe, just maybe, I’m doing that when I visit your home, too.
“Don’t apologize for what you have. It makes guests feel uncomfortable, it encourages discontentment, and if you’re married and your husband hears you apologizing for what he’s provided, it could be hurtful” (p. 61).
- Buy a plant. If it dies, that’s okay. Buy another kind of plant until you find one that lives (p. 193).
- For the love of all that is lovely, don’t be afraid to make a nail hole (p. 82).
- Live in and enjoy your space. Don’t fret when something breaks or gets scratched, because that is a sign of a life well lived. Yippie, you are doing it right! (p. 194).
4. Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
This book. I heard about this bestseller probably a year ago, picked it up for cheap at the bookstore and flew through it. The story is pieced together by emails and letters interwoven with narrative and dialogue. It centers on a mother-daughter relationship (that, of course, has its dysfunctions) and had me laughing out loud at 7:00 in the morning and 10:00 at night. It has a ton of wit and soul, even in the serious parts. Loved.
5. Eat & Make by Paul Lowe (in progress)
Again, another Christmas cookbook. It’s written by Norwegian Sweet Paul, namesake of the quarterly print magazine. Flipping through, the book is filled with recipes, many of which will push my tastes (again), and kitchen crafts, like jam jar salt and pepper shakers and coffee filter paper flowers. I’m excited to really dig into this one.
6. Notes from a Blue Bike by Tsh Oxenreider (in progress)
I can’t get away from non-fiction for long, can I? I discovered Tsh through her podcast, found here. The tagline of the book is “The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World,” and it centers on living consciously by way of small choices that make up a life. I’m like a sponge with these kind of books; should be a good one with many wise words.
Side Note: A few weeks back, I wrote about our transition to a new city, a new home with new coffee shops and schedules and one-way streets to memorize. This season, despite its tough moments, is doing a lot in my soul. These books have undoubtedly helped me make space in my brain and heart for both wisdom and whimsy. Words change us, you know?