Two and a half books are read so far this year and they’re all quite different. The best, by far is Julie Morgenstern’s SHED Your Stuff, Change Your Life. It’s focus is not only on decluttering and simplifying, but adding some exploration about why the bad habits begin in the first place and are so difficult to kick. Unlike most books of this type, it does more than demand that you throw things out. I found it useful, and it’s in line with my goal of working toward creative simplicity. I also had the good sense to borrow it from the library and return it on time. No clutter on the bookshelves.
The book selection for my book group this month was The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker. It’s not often that I really don’t like a book– and this is one of those times. Honestly, if I didn’t need to read it for my group, I would have dropped it after page twenty. Disappointing…melodramatic… didn’t strike a chord, not even a note with me. It was not believable and didn’t make me care enough to embrace what was suppose to be magical. I didn’t care about the characters; they weren’t authentic. The maudlin theme of “love conquers all” was a bore. The plot was dependent upon actions that I just didn’t buy into. Get the point… I didn’t like it and don’t recommend it.
On the other hand, I’m totally engaged in Isaac Bashevis Singer’s Satan in Goray. Each sentence pulls me further into his world. It’s so well written; I often stop and re-read sentences because they are so striking. This book was a gift from one of my most outstanding students, Miki, and he was absolutely right… I love this book and can’t wait to read the next one he gave me.
Last on my review list is book connected to the What’s Falmouth Reading? initiative. The focus is on local grown and make your own food. The Kitchen Counter Cooking School is a memoir/cookbook written by Kathleen Flinn. Her modus operandi is to find folks in the grocery store with carts full of processed, unhealthy food and to teach them some basic culinary skills that change the way they eat. It’s not an astounding concept– Emeril Lagasse used to do something similar on his TV show. The information is not earth shaking, but I do find it interesting how she engages each of her students and how she teaches them new skills. It’s a good book to skim and glaze over. The primary book for this town wide project is Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. That’s on my list for next month.
My game plan for the month of January is to read at least a book a week. I’m enjoying the pace and the extended time with my nose in a book. I just got an advanced copy of Elizabeth Strout’s new book, The Burgess Boys, and after teaching Olive Kitteridge, I’m really curious to read her latest work. And then there’s my beloved Mark Helprin’s In Sunlight and In Shadow. I’m reading it in “teaspoon fulls” because I don’t want it to end. Love it, love it, love it.
One of the side effects of my increase in book time is that I’m spending less time doing stupid things on line… like checking my e-mail a zillion times or revisiting my bookmarked sites every ten minutes. Gotta go…. time to check out the Winter Farmer’s Market at Mahoney’s.