Books have always felt like bread and water to me. Necessary. Daily. Delicious.
I am finding that to be even more true as I round the final bend of book writing. There seems to be an almost exact correlation between words in and words out.
These days, I am reading in order to keep the sounds and rhythms of good writing foremost in my mind. I am reading to jolt new ideas. I am reading to learn. I am reading to rest. It usually takes a book to shut my own book out of my head for a while.
Here is a little bit of what I’ve been reading.
You can find all the book recommendations in my occasional Saturday series right here. These posts contain affiliate links.
I never, ever recommend books I haven’t actually finished, but I’m making an exception for Jean Hersey’s The shape of a year. This book is a vintage gem, and I think I bought my copy for one dollar plus shipping. It’s worth fifty times that.
Hersey was a garden writer, and this book observes the four seasons on her rural Connecticut property with curiosity and joy. This is a book all about the simple pleasures of the seasons. It begins in January, and I have only allowed myself to read through March (because I want to walk through all of this year with this book nearby).
Some might complain that nothing much happens. It’s true that this isn’t a book full of human dramas. But Hersey knows what everyone with eyes to really see the world around them has discovered. There is always something happening.
I am afraid that the lady doth protest too much because I find myself recommending one more book I haven’t quite finished. Perhaps that is the true theme of this post: Books I’ve Partly Read! But the new nonfiction book by the novelist Ann Patchett is another one for savoring. I could sit down and read it in one gulp, but it’s January. Self-control and discipline are in the air this time of year.
This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage is a collection of essays and magazine pieces. Together they explore everything from how and why Patchett became a writer to what it’s like to try out for the Los Angeles police department. There’s a great bit about an RV road trip.
Patchett’s book is funny and fun. It hits all the buttons for me right now. Good writing that prompts new thinking in a collection that makes a restful, distracting escape.
This third book I not only finished but finished quickly. It is that mythical beast known as a page-turner. Fortunately, it is also well written and gives you a great deal to think about. It is Elizabeth Is Missing by Emma Healey.
This is a psychological mystery with a dose of historical fiction, but, mostly, it is a powerful portrait of growing older and of care-giving. I dare anyone to read this book without growing in empathy and compassion for the elderly.
What are you reading these days? And, perhaps more importantly, why?
Where do you find your books, Christy? What websites do you frequent to explore/buy books. I’m assuming it’s more than Amazon. I think you once mentioned a website that has excellent books for kids.
Good question, Danielle. Mostly, I think I just pay attention whenever anyone (through facebook or twitter or on a blog) mentions a book they love. I always make a note of it, always check it out on amazon or goodreads. But I love chinaberry.com for kids’ books and basbleu.com usually has great back-in-print vintage books. Mostly, I’m grateful to be connected to so many writers/readers on social media. That’s how I found the Patchett and the Hersey.
I just finished Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl by N. D. Wilson which was a very interesting and abnormal sort of book. Every chapter was a sort of essay that was poetic, spiritual, and sarcastic in humor. Now I’m on to Made for More by Hannah Anderson. I’m waiting for The Light We Cannot See to be held for me at the library but there’s a huge line for it!
I’m thinkin’ that last one needs to be on my list. Sigh. Not only am I taking care of an elderly person (from a distance of sort,s as I am strictly limiting myself to daily phone calls and weekly lunches or else I’d be consumed. She has great people with her in her dementia unit), but I AM an elderly person. Oh, yeah. That’s a hard reality.