I hope you enjoy(ed) these as much as I did. Merry Christmas!
The Last Love Song: A Biography of Joan Didion by Tracy Daugherty
Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf
See How Small by Scott Blackwood
Erratic Facts by Kay Ryan
The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo
Snobs by Julian Fellowes
The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi by Peter M. Wayne, PhD with Mark L. Fuerst
The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2015 edited by Rebecca Skloot
Unless It Moves the Human Heart by Roger Rosenblatt
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo sounded like just what I needed. Here’s how it’s done: You go through your entire house, category by category, and PURGE. You have only two things you must do: determine what brings you joy and find a place for it. To help you decide, take, for instance, every one of your coats, spread them out on the floor and then pick up each one, and touch it, caress, etc. to see if it makes you feel joyful. If it does, find a space for it; if not, give it away. Kondo is adamant that we follow that rule of checking every coat for the joy factor otherwise we might make the wrong choices or not enough of them.
I broke that rule right off because frankly it seemed like way too much work. But I’m bending it to suit me. First, I’m going through my house using my old purging method and deciding at a glance what goes in the yard sale, the donation bag and the garbage bag. When that’s completed and things are more manageable, I’ll use the tidying up method. I look forward to it.
Today, I called Volunteers of America for a pickup and brought in a bag of books to donate to our library.
I recently read an article about Dutton publisher Julie Strauss-Gabel who edited such wonderful books as The Fault in our Stars, Belzhar and more in which she said “If I’m not in love with someone’s writing at the sentence level, then I’m not going to sign up the book.” I find I choose the books I read the same way.
I’ve always appreciated the way Joan Rivers could turn her personal tragedies around by finding a sliver of humor in whatever came her way. It seems like her daughter Melissa has that same gift. Melissa adds her own witty comments to her Mom’s to make her new book, The Book of Joan: Tales of Mirth, Mischief, and Manipulation by Melissa Rivers a really funny book. Rather than share some of my favorite lines/stories, I’ll let you find your own given that we all don’t laugh at the same things. Trust me, you’ll find plenty.
These are some of the books I loved in 2014 and why:
Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande for writing the most thought provoking and the most important book I’ve read in years.
Let Me Be Frank with You: A Frank Bascombe Book by Richard Ford for his masterful writing about American life.
Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham for entertaining me with her wit and wisdom—had to listen to it to hear the mischief in her voice.
The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande for showing me the importance and magic of the humble checklist.
Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant? By Roz Chast for making me see that all those maddening idiosyncrasies my parents had were actually what made them so lovable and now, so missed.
Bark by Lorrie Moore—no one does quirky better or more realistically.
Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation by Dan Fagin for inspiring me with the good people of New Jersey who made sure that no more children would die in their community as the result of chemical pollution.
Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion for taking me back to the sixties.
Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides for a coming-of-age story unlike anything I’ve ever read.
By the Book: Writers on Literature and the Literary Life from The New York Times Book Review edited by Pamela Paul. Otherwise I never would have known which authors, dead or alive, Jeffrey Eugenides would invite to his dinner party. Go first to page 85 for a very funny conversation among Kafka, Kundera and Joyce. Shakespeare was busy that night.
Hope your 2015 is filled with books you love!
We’ve all been hearing that sitting is bad for us, but would you go so far as to commit to standing for an entire month? One New Yorker did. Dan Kois stood for an entire month (except for driving, sleeping and sitting on the toilet). You can read all about it in New York Magazine’s special Health Issue that came out on June 9th. Was he any healthier? Well, he lost some weight and walked much more than before. He even wasted less time, what with standing at all those meetings, taking shorter phone calls, etc. But he came to find out that just as too much sitting is bad for us, so is too much standing. There’s back pain, the risk of stroke, varicose veins and more. Maybe it’s the up-and-down thing we all need to do more of?
One of the things I like best about Arianna Huffington’s new book Thrive is the quotes. Permit me:
Sometimes people let the same problems make them miserable for years when they could just say “so what.” That’s one of my favorite things to say.—Andy Warhol
Oh, how I wish I could be more like Andy.