Happy New Year from My Bookshelf!
After spending two weeks in quarantined celebration mode (yes, that became a thing this year), I headed back to “the grind” kicking and screaming. Quarantine celebration consists mostly of reading, over-indulging in social media, watching TV – a lot, eating, sleeping late, and thinking about all the parties you should be going to. If only there were parties to attend. And now that it’s over, it’s back to the real world. OK, the real pandemic world. Deadlines loom, schedules are overcrowded, details put off until the return await, and sleep is already a thing of the past. But I’m facing 2021 with renewed hope. It has to be a better year. OK. It isn’t going to happen just by turning the page on the calendar. But it’s going to be better.
So, as a new year begins, let me amplify for you one of my favorite activities that I hope you find interesting. Reading isn’t something I only did during the 2 week holiday break. I have been reading during this pandemic like nobody’s business. And here is a list of a few writers who came into my orb in 2020. Yes, it’s been the worst year ever. But in a “glass half full” effort to bring happiness and joy, here are some options I indulged in this year and I share now for your reading pleasure.
(If you have others you’d like to share here, don’t deny the readers! Please post. If you have read any of the tomes I’m listing or heard of any of the writers or poets, share your thoughts.)
Some books that helped to get me through the year include the following, in no particular order:
The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. The book is a life changer. I read the chapters, engaged in the tasks offered at the end of each chapter, and spent 12 weeks in a zoom group with 5 other women – 4 of whom I had never met before – discussing the content. It guess you can call it a book club but it was so much more. The book focuses on the creativity in all of us. The women supported one another and we became besties too. Like I said, it’s a life saver. And our group continues to connect weekly!
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. Most people recognize the writer because of her book turned movie Eat, Pray, Love. Trust me Big Magic will give writers as well as readers a lot to think about when it comes to facing your fears and becoming a better you. It’s my new guidepost.
City of Girls, also by Elizabeth Gilbert, is an expertly written page turner that defies the reader to deny they just want to know what happens next. It’s that good.
I discovered Brene Brown in 2020. Where have I been? Ms. Brown has many books that can guide and enlighten you. This year I read: The Gifts of Imperfection and I Thought it Was Just Me (I also watched her TED Talk). I encourage you to google her now and find all her writings. You won’t regret it. She also has a podcast.
Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh touched me in so many ways. Written while she spent time at her beach house (my dream for me) it is a touching story that I read twice this year. I also purchased the audio version and listened to it throughout my days to help me with the challenges of the pandemic. And usually when I say the title out loud I smile, tilt my head to the side and utter the words delicately for full effect. It’s that special.
I heard about Gift From the Sea from another writer named Jennifer Louden. Jen has her own book which I used to guide my way through understanding the true merits of understanding well, why I bother with things that matter. In Why Bother, Jen Louden takes the reader through the paces of discovery. And while I learned a lot from reading this book, I read the “Settle” chapter over and over because I struggle with taking time to settle into myself. I even took a mini-retreat, at home, after reading this.
I finally read the Sue Monk Kidd offering The Book of Longings. Another page turner that I couldn’t put down. I even began to create my own ending – in my mind. Lots of people recommended this and I was not disappointed.
Five Days: The Fiery Reckoning of an American City by Wes Moore with Erica Green is the story of how the leaders in Baltimore, my hometown, handled the uprising over the death of Freddie Gray. Mr. Moore is an expert story teller who outlines the events in great detail.
I’m a big fan of local Baltimore writer Anne Tyler who published Redhead by The Side of The Road this year. An easy read with a interesting storyline. I’ve never been “into” mystery or crime novels but this year I picked up Lady in The Lake by Laura Lippman, also a Baltimore writer. Loved it! (Full disclosure: I’m a sucker for books like these because they mention places I’m familiar with)
I also reacquainted myself with my love of poetry during 2020
The connection with my love of poetry was reignited when I heard my coach reading The Invitation by Oriah Mountain Dreamer. I was absolutely drawn to the poem and encourage anyone to read the words, easily found online, for the encouragement and strength I found in each stanza.
Find anything by Mary Oliver and read it. You won’t regret it.
After attending a few Sundays this summer on a zoom call with the great David Whyte (and untold number of others), I learned about reading poetry as never before because the poet was reading his works to me (and all the others on the webinar). What an amazing experience. David Whyte is an Irish poet who writes with compassion. I am so happy to have found him. You should look him up too.
I brought some Rod McKuen out of storage and read through Listen to the Warm and Stanyan Street and Other Sorrows. They reminded me how much poetry moves me. I’ve been reading more of his works this year.
Rumi isn’t so much a poet as a sage. You need only read The Guest House to discover that you are not alone in any world. You will also discover that you desire more of his teachings and they can be found online.
I’m a reader. Always have been. I love novels of fiction, biography, self-help, cooking, or poetry. If it’s a book, I like to hold it and turn the pages. I feel my most authentic self when I am holding a book and turning the pages. So, you won’t find me reading a book on any electronic device except on the rarest of occasions. I realize it’s easier to travel with your books all downloaded to your device – but who is traveling that much anymore. Besides, there’s nothing like picking up a book many years after you read it at the beach to find it still has suntan lotion smudges and a few grains of sand that got into the binding when you laid it on the blanket to take a dip in the ocean.
And don’t think that’s all! My cousin gifted me a copy of the new James Patterson book The Last Days of John Lennon. I’ll be reading that this month.
Here’s to 2021! Read On!