..........a blog about food, travel, gardening, and living the good life in Arizona.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Books on my nightstand

To the reader, this stack may appear mighty ambitious... but to those who know me, that's just how I roll. There are stacks of reading material all over the house. I like to read several books at once and magazine articles too. I know alot of people who don't enjoy this approach to reading... they prefer to read from beginning to end even if they're not enjoying the book! Maybe it has something to do with closure or just finishing what you start... a concept that's eluded me all my life, gratefully, without any serious consequences of which I'm aware.

Stacks of books are like cable tv… if you’re not in the mood for one channel, you can easily switch to another. That’s how I am with books. How, you may wonder, do I ever finish one book if I have so many to choose from? Well, because I generally read for inspiration and not so much for entertainment… inspiration being entertainment for me. Though novels are entertaining and a really good one can keep me engrossed to the very last page, inspirational books offer something different; sometimes an insight or just a new way of looking at a problem and sometimes a life-changing idea. I’m an information junky so I often read to learn and understand. Some of the books in this stack will never be read to the end by me even though within their pages I may have found some nugget of wisdom I can store away in my heart or my brain for later.

Let’s begin at the top: Take My Heart Oh God is a lovely book of daily devotions, a Christmas gift from daughter, Lori.  I like to just open it up randomly and read the message that shows up instead of following along by the date… reminding me of God’s presence in my life every day.

I Could Pee on This is a hilarious collection of poems written by cats… a loan from friend, Jeanne. I read it to the end giggling all the way.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac was another Christmas gift, this one from Jack. He knows I love to garden (by the moon) so this will be helpful as soon as I begin planning my Spring garden.

The next book, Quite Days in Clichy is one I began reading but haven’t yet finished. Henry Miller wrote this in Paris when he was penniless and unknown. It’s a celebration of love, art and the Bohemian life at a time when the world was simpler and slower. Those days are gone, of course, as well as the ability to survive in Paris without money. I’m not sure I like Henry Miller so much but it was a small book that I thought would slip easily into my luggage. We were in Paris, at the Shakespeare & Company Bookshop and I wanted a remembrance of that book mecca which is just so intriguing and wonderful for a book nut like me (I could spend days there). They even stamp the fly page with their company logo if you ask.

Everybody Was So Young is another book about life in Paris during the 20s. I really got hooked on that era after reading The Paris Wife. This one focuses on the Murphy’s, a wealthy couple and friends of Hemingway, who helped him get his start. It’s a bittersweet tale of young people, unencumbered by want, who party, befriend artists, endure personal tragedies, and unknowingly shape the artistic scene of the 1920s. Not unlike tuning into a tv soap opera except these were real people with genuine legacies that made historical difference in art and culture.

Ayurveda and the Mind made it to the stack because I’ve been researching the effects of herbs on consciousness. Sounds pretty new agey: energetic psychology… I think there’s really something there, especially with turmeric.

 Seth Godin’s The Icarus Deception is the first book I’ve read by this author… I was enrolled after reading Amazon’s summary, yet so far I’m a bit turned off. The structure is erratic; most of the time I’m not sure where he’s going with his ideas. I’ve gotten one take away though:  he introduces the concept of “participating in your life -- if you’re not failing at things regularly (he writes), then you’re not really living.”  Sticky note to monitor.

Living in Process: Basic Truths to Living the Path of the Soul was written by the same author who wrote Meditations For Women Who Do Too Much. This book offers an alternative to life as “product” as Schaef describes our modern culture, to a more mindful participation in life as “process” which she explains, means embracing a “way of doing” instead of “what is done”… “being” instead of “doing” instead of the results-oriented model our culture demands. Not ground-breaking thought I’m afraid; she seems to be using different words to describe concepts already explored by others. On page 4 she shares her conclusion that “all human problems are ultimately spiritual”. I agreed with that sentiment the first time I heard it over 30 years ago when Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh said it… and probably someone before him as well. It just may be true that there really isn’t anything new anymore.

Perhaps the best of the bunch and last on the stack, Smitten Kitchen by Deb Perelman, an award-winning food, cooking and ingredient-obsessed blogger in New York City. I love her and have been following her blog for many years. Because she’s both a photographer and a great cook, the photos on her blog are some of the best. Her recipes too… down-to-earth doable by anyone. ‘Have to try her Almond Date Breakfast Bars. All goodness.

Next post I’m promising myself that I’ll only stack books on my nightstand that I’m loving and would absolutely recommend! Till then!