- Appreciate the leaves changing color
- Invest in more linen clothing (some may say that’s a summer thing but I say who cares)
- Listen to more podcasts (and pretend I’m in Southern France)
- Bake a pumpkin pie
- Find fresh hazelnuts (ideally for the pie, but probably just for myself)
- Try all the pastries at my new favorite (local) bakery (4 down, so many more to go)
- Go on more hikes
- Attempt a sourdough bread recipe
- Listen to Nick Drake’s whole repertoire (Pink Moon anyone?)
- Buy more wool socks
- The Ocean at the End of the Lane – Neil Gaiman
- Essays After Eighty – Donald Hall
- A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
- Frida’s Bed – Slavenka Drakulić
- Phantom Hitchhikers and Other Urban Legends – Albert Jack
- Look Who’s Back – Timur Vermes
- The View from the Cheap Seats – Neil Gaiman
- Drinking Song – Haley Heynderickx
- Katie Queen of Tennessee – Apache Relay
- A Case of You – Joni Mitchell
- American Beauty – Drew Holcomb and The Neighbors
- Lover – Devandra Banhart
- Wolf – Sylvan Esso
- Shooting Stars – Big Gigantic
- Planets – Joseph
- Somebody to Anybody – Margaret Glaspy
- Hummed Low – Odessa
It’s better to have and not need than need and not have.
- My mom is always prepared. In her car, she always has Advil, band-aids, paper towels, plastic shopping bags, an umbrella, a hairbrush. You name it, she probably has it. This made her one excellent Girl Scout leader and child wrangler for 13 years.
Don’t be late. Better yet, be 10 minutes early.
- Her watch and every single clock in her house is set 12 minutes early just so she’ll be ahead of schedule. What some would consider impractical, she has lived by her whole life. And it’s something she has instilled in both me and my sister, so that in college, I was always early to my classes, and I have never been late to work.
Know the difference between a flat head and a phillips head screwdriver.
- My mom has never let new furniture, a flat tire, or a clogged toilet get in her way. I grew up knowing my way around the tool box, and it’s something I know I will never regret. My mom taught me that women are strong and can do anything, no matter what social expectations may exist.
Make time for your family and participate.
- I have spent my whole life attending family reunions, visiting cousins, aunts, uncles, and the like whenever we go on vacation, and I have been to so many graduations, plays, sporting events that my sister or cousins have been in. Family is important. I cherish the time I have spent with my grandparents. I love their stories. I love my crazy extended family. I don’t know what I would do without them all.
Don’t let a schedule keep you from doing something spontaneous.
- Every Saturday growing up, my mom would take my sister and me on a Saturday Adventure. She wouldn’t tell us where we were going or how long it was going to last. Once, she picked us up early from school, we packed our suitcases for anything, and we hit the road. Later she told us she hadn’t planned anything. She just headed east, and we found ourselves at the Outer Banks in North Carolina for the weekend.
I know Mother’s Day was a few weeks ago, but I hope I never let my appreciation for my mom be restricted to just one day out of the year. I value any moment I spend with her. And I know that no matter how long I’ve been away, or even how often I’ve been home… Home is my favorite place to be.
- The Messenger – Markus Zusak
- This is one my all time favorite books. Zusak is probably best known for The Book Thief (which you should also read!), but this book deserves attention all its own. It follows a 19 year old cab driver named Ed who unwittingly stops a bank robbery and then begins to receive playing cards in the mail. Always aces, with clues written on them. He goes through a journey of self-discovery (blah blah), and he learns that the world is much bigger, more broken, and much more beautiful than he imagined. But what really kept me around was the writing. Zusak has this way with words that brings a poetic edge to everything he writes, and it paints the most beautiful pictures in my head.
- “Sometimes people are beautiful. Not in looks. Not in what they say. Just in what they are.”
- American Gods – Neil Gaiman
- This one really caught me off guard. I am a huge fan of Gaiman as a writer and as a person. I follow him on different social media platforms, and he comes across as a very calm, genuine, and relatable person. And I’ve been meaning to pick up some of his books for a long time now, but you know how that goes. Anyway, I started with his novel Neverwhere, but I was a little unimpressed. Not that it was bad. I just had built up what I thought Gaiman was in my head. And believe me when I tell you that American Gods went above and beyond the image I created. This novel is about a man named Shadow, an ex-con and widower, recently released from jail, who is whisked away by the mysterious Mr. Wednesday on a road trip through the backroads of America to collect all of the old gods that have been pushed aside by the new (TV, Media). Exciting, thrilling, and dark, you will not be disappointed in this pick.
- “People believe, thought Shadow. It’s what people do. They believe, and then they do not take responsibility for their beliefs; they conjure things, and do not trust the conjuration. People populate the darkness; with ghosts, with gods, with electrons, with tales. People imagine, and people believe; and it is that rock solid belief, that makes things happen.”
- The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
- This one. It gives me chills thinking about how relevant this book has become in the past few years. I read this one for the first time about 3 years ago now, and it gave me so much to think about. The Handmaid’s Tale comes across as a cautionary tale about what it means to give up our rights as women and what can be taken away from us so easily. It’s set in the (not so distant?) future where women have become infertile and those who can bear children are forced to become vessels for the rich to procreate. It follows the story of one handmaid in particular and her daily struggle to remain alive and well in a world that is so decidedly anti-woman and anti-choice. I think it’s an important book for everyone to read, not just women.
- “There is more than one kind of freedom,” said Aunt Lydia. “Freedom to and freedom from. In the days of anarchy, it was freedom to. Now you are being given freedom from. Don’t underrate it.”
- “‘Ordinary,’ said Aunt Lydia, ‘is what you are used to. This may not seem ordinary to you now, but after a time it will. It will become ordinary.'”
- Station Eleven – Emily St. John Mandel
- I am not generally one for post-apocalyptic novels. There have been and continue to be so many of them, they all start to blend together for me. However, I was drawn to Station Eleven because it placed its focus on something more than just a group of survivors. There are several story lines from different time lines that don’t seem very cohesive, but they form a tangled web that slowly make sense as the story progresses. And the point of the novel is something greater than survival because “survival is insufficient.” It’s about how humanity needs something to live for in order to truly be human, be it art, religion, or a simple belief.
- “I’ve been thinking lately about immortality. What it means to be remembered, what I want to be remembered for, certain questions concerning memory and fame. I love watching old movies. I watch the faces of long-dead actors on the screen, and I think about how they’ll never truly die . . . First we only want to be seen, but once we’re seen, that’s not enough anymore. After that, we want to be remembered.”
- The Goldfinch – Donna Tartt
- Donna Tartt has quickly become one of my favorite writers. I read one quote from this novel online once, and I was hooked. It’s a hefty read, but the world she creates is imaginative and dark and so gorgeous. The Goldfinch is the story of a boy whose life is torn apart by tragedy and misfortune and neglectful guardians, and he quickly slips into the world of drugs, antiques, and art forgery. Her writing is beautiful, and her characters are terrifically complex. I highly recommend picking this book up from your local book store.
- “You can look at a picture for a week and never think of it again. You can also look at a picture for a second and think of it all your life”
- “—if a painting really works down in your heart and changes the way you see, and think, and feel, you don’t think, ‘oh, I love this picture because it’s universal.’ ‘I love this painting because it speaks to all mankind.’ That’s not the reason anyone loves a piece of art. It’s a secret whisper from an alleyway. Psst, you. Hey kid. Yes you.”
1. Second chances are good, until they’re not.
2. People are beautiful and multi-faceted and never what you think.
3. A kind word goes a long way.
4. Everyone else knows something you don’t.
5. There’s nothing wrong with being vulnerable.
6. Being introverted is not a character flaw.
7. There is almost nothing a good book, a healthy meal, or a long nap won’t fix.
8. Going through the motions of being productive generally induces productivity.
9. A good outfit does wonders for your attitude and your confidence.
10. You have to love yourself before anyone else can.