There never is enough time for reading, is there?

I’ve heard the same thing from so many of you. Something like Oh no! More recommendations! I’ll never catch up! Of course, I know you’re winking. I know you’re dropping everything to read that novel though there are so many more important things to do.

And we wouldn’t want it any other way, would we?

 

Shhh...

 

When I’m honest with myself, I am never truly afraid that I won’t make it to the bottom of my must-read list. When I’m honest with myself, I know that my real fear is this:  I am afraid I will run out of good books. I am afraid I’ll be caught waiting for a child somewhere and I won’t have a good book in my car. I’m afraid the baby will fall asleep at the exact same moment when the kids busy themselves with a game and I won’t have a good book on my desk.

I know. This is crazy talk. But let’s just make sure shall we? Let’s keep those bookshelves and nightstands and library order queues nice and full.

As always, I am here to help.

(P.S. This post includes affiliate links. You can find more info about those right here.)

Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them. – Lemony Snicket

This was my recent stop-everything-must-read-to-the-very-last-page reading event: The Ocean at the End of the Lane: A Novel by Neil Gaimon.

I’ve mentioned before my weakness where fairytales for grownups are concerned. Gaimon’s newest book makes an excellent addition to this list. It is the book I want to write when I grow up.

This is a slim novel about a young boy living in an old house on a country lane in England. On the surface of the story, you’ll find a fairy ring, three generations of mysterious, ageless women, and an evil housekeeper/creature. Beneath the surface, you’ll find a boy growing into a man, a family breaking apart, and all the big questions about life and death and loss and the meaning of it all.

This is what I love about fairytales: something small and simple like the death of a beloved kitten is at the same time something big and meaningful and important. It is both. This is a novel exactly like the ocean at the end of the lane: it is so much bigger on the inside than it appears to be from the outside.

‘Grown-ups and monsters aren’t scared of things.’

‘Oh, monsters are scared,’ said Lettie. ‘That’s why they’re monsters. And as for grown-ups …’

– Neil Gaimon

My love for books about food (a category not to be confused with actual cookbooks) is well documented on this blog. A new-to-me classic of this genre is Laurie Colwin’s Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen (Vintage Contemporaries).

These essays are part memoir, part hilarious confession, part cookbook, and, well, I’m sure a few other secret ingredients have been added to the mix, but the result is delightful.

Colwin was a writer and a home cook. Her book is funny, informative, and mouth-watering. Most of all, it’s a book that makes me just that much happier in my kitchen and at my table. Good things happen at the table, whether we’ve cooked our meal on a hot plate or a community center’s professional oven. Colwin knows this and celebrates it. And I love her for it.

The ultimate nursery food is beef tea; I have not had it since I was a child, and although I could easily have brewed myself a batch, I never have yet. I am afraid that my childhood will overwhelm me with the first sip or that I will be compelled to sit down at once and write a novel in many volumes. – Laurie Colwin

Here’s a book I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you about, but maybe you have yet to pick it up? It’s Betsy-Tacy (Betsy-Tacy Books), the first in the series begun in 1940 by Maud Hart Lovelace.

I somehow missed this one as a child. My firstborn (recently turned ten) nearly missed it. But, thank heavens, we rectified that error in time. This may be a book well suited for little girls (ages four to eight, perhaps?), but, really, we are never too old to snuggle on the couch and read about childhood through the eyes of best friends Betsy and Tacy.

This is an old-fashioned book full of old-fashioned pleasures. Playing paperdolls. Building a backyard house out of a piano crate. Filling old bottles with rainbows of colored sand. It isn’t a life without hardship or sorrow, but it is a life made beautiful by friendship and imagination.

I’m not sure we’ll make it to the end of the series (Betsy’s Wedding? Maybe not). But this first book is a treasure.

Besides the little glass pitcher, she got colored cups and saucers, a small silk handkerchief embroidered with forget-me-nots, pencils and puzzles and balls. But the nicest present she received was not the usual kind of present. It was the present of a friend. It was Tacy.

 

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