Greetings from the morning train! Particularly happy to be on the train this AM as it means I’m office-bound and leaving the HOUSE. Hooray! I got a bad bug last week and spent the last four days right here:
Thankfully, it was cozy and nice to be near the tree, but I definitely got cabin fever. Feeling much better and hoping, hoping, hoping for no more viruses this holiday season.
Did some reading this weekend (recently started Evicted–excellent) but probably spent more time poring over 2016 Best of Books lists. The Washington Post’s most ambitious, overrated, hopeful and irritating list made me laugh. My favorite “list” is NPR’s, mostly because of the gorgeous cover displays and the ease of navigating the covers and summaries.
Reading these, realized I haven’t updated my book notes in a while. Might be forgetting a few, but some thoughts on recent reads:
Catastrophic Happiness: A few years ago, I got a subscription to Real Simple as a Christmas gift and every month I look forward to reading Catherine Newman’s etiquette guide. She’s balanced and practical, and her hilarious and tender reflections on parenting are beautiful.
Better than Before: I never read the Happiness Project, but I’m sorry to say this didn’t leave me wanting to read more of Rubin’s writing. The over-analysis and evaluation of every action made me anxious. Perhaps there isn’t that much to say about habits. It did make me think of morning and evening habits and routines, which is helpful with the commute, but other than that…
You’ll Grow Out of It: LOVED this. Yes, it was a-laugh-out-loud-while-reading-in-bed book, but it was also incredibly thoughtful and vulnerable. While her life could not be more different (she’s a hyper successful entertainment writer), her thoughts on marriage, fertility, career-all those real things that take up so much friend-talk real estate-made me feel like I was listening to a friend. And Klein is just a great writer.
Modern Lovers: While I loved The Vacationers (reading it felt like a vacation to Mallorca), Modern Lovers didn’t feel like a vacation to Brooklyn. That’s fine, I don’t want to take a vacation to Brooklyn. It was completely different book-less of the dreamy, transportive variety and more of a reflection on middle age type. Staub is a great writer and I think she creates complete, nuanced characters, but I would certainly pick the The Vacationers over this one.
Commonwealth: READ THIS. Rarely do I read a book where from Chapter 1, I’m there-with the characters, in that setting, just 100% there. The opening chapter, I was in that kitchen at Franny’s christening party, could smell the orange juice and vodka, and feel that late afternoon sunshine and heat. Not an uplifting book at all, but the writing! Makes me wish I had stopped by Patchett’s bookstore, Parnassus Books, when I was in Nashville.
The Hopefuls: Not sure how I feel. It’s almost two books, with part one in DC and one in the Houston suburbs. The DC part was a hilarious reflection on so much of what is endearing and absurd about DC. Since I love the city, there were times I found the character unnecessarily whiny, but still appreciated her observations. Entertaining book, for sure.
Reading through this list, it is clear I intentionally stuck to pretty fluffy, simple, life reflection-type books this Fall. Can’t pretend this wasn’t intentional. With all the election (and then post-election) anxiety, I needed an escape. Think I might be ready to return to reading more substantive books, but there’s still a lot of escapist books on my list. Here’s a few of both I hope to read next:
- The Nest
- The Nutshell
- Eyes on the Street
- The Story of a Marriage
- Today will be Different
- Patient HM
- Utopia for Realists
- Dark Money
- The Mothers
- They May not Mean to But they Do
- Hillbilly Elegy
- Born a Crime
- The Undoing Project
Thankfully, the San Joaquin Public Library system is pretty on it with it with new books. So many good ones to read!