I’ve been putting off this post for so long because the list of books I’ve read keeps growing and writing a post seems more and more daunting, and so I just now (Just like that! How fun it is to be my own boss!) decided to start a monthly book love check-in here on the blog. Maybe it’ll keep me more accountable. I hope you’ll tell me in the comments what you are reading at the time. I will also update the Currently Reading page more frequently, as it will help me draft these new monthly posts. A win/win!
This month has been unusual for me in that I’ve held off on most of my art. I’ve allowed myself to get a couple months behind in Life Book in exchange for catching up on house projects, getting my daughter adjusted to the new school year, and having some down time. And so I’ve read some great books too!
The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud
This goes first because it’s my absolute favorite of all 8 books I read this month (and also the one I finished last night). I can’t say enough about the excellent writing and the depth of introspection and pure emotion that Messud crafted into these pages. It is a good story, has perfectly drawn, worldly characters that I felt I knew, and left me absolutely stunned. I am definitely going to read everything this woman wrote!
Then Again by Diane Keaton
I picked this one up at the suggestion of a friend and I’m glad I did. I have always been drawn to Keaton’s quirky artiness and this was an opportunity to get to know more about her upbringing and romantic relations (with famous people). Keaton is honest about her early eating disorder and about how her mother influenced her life.
A quick read full of advice on how to go about becoming successful… tenacity, putting in the time, finding mentors, etc. Lieu wrote the book with artists or other creatives in mind as readers, but I think it applies to many vocations. I reviewed this book at length recently here.
After I saw orca in the fjord in Alaska, frolicking and swimming so beautifully, I wanted to know more about these majestic beings. Kirby’s book was definitely an eye-opener for me. Kirby has all the facts to contrast orca behavior in the wild to that in captivity and the stats are not pretty. He writes so well about the lives and thoughts of orca trainers at aquariums, the scientists who study orca all over the world, and the stories of many individual orcas. I am shocked at the oversight and pure “big business” that Sea World and other establishments allow. I wish everyone would read this book.
Recommended by one of you, I had to get a used copy because it sounded so intriguing! It didn’t disappoint. I must say that I don’t care for Kent’s drawings (though he is a respected artist), but his words about living on Fox Island for a few seasons with his 9-year-old son were full of adventure and descriptive details.
The Whale: In Search of the Giants of the Sea by Philip Hoare
I’ve never read so much about Moby Dick and Melville – not my favorite – and I was an English major! Hoare includes a lot of narrative of whaling adventures and the history of mankind’s cruelty to these remarkable creatures, which was difficult to read but interesting nonetheless. I learned about humpback and sperm whales, which I enjoyed.
One Man’s Wilderness: An Alaskan Odyssey by Sam Keith and Richard Proenneke
This is one of the books I bought in Skagway and it’s the first one I opened when I returned home. This story contains just what I love in rags-to-riches stories… a journey from idea to complete metamorphosis brought about by hard work and sheer determination. Proenneke took only what he needed, lived simply and in harmony with nature, and enjoyed carving out a cabin and a life in the wilderness. I found it fascinating.
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I have also updated my Excel file of Everything I’ve Ever Read, including these spring and summer reads (listed alphabetically by author). I wish I had time to tell you more about each of them, but I hope you’ll check them out yourself.
Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife by Dr. Eben Alexander
AN AMAZING READ: Thousands of people have had near-death experiences, but scientists have argued that they are impossible. Dr. Eben Alexander was one of those scientists. A highly trained neurosurgeon, Alexander knew that NDEs feel real, but are simply fantasies produced by brains under extreme stress. Then, Dr. Alexander’s own brain was attacked by a rare illness. The part of the brain that controls thought and emotion—and in essence makes us human—shut down completely. While his body lay in coma, Alexander journeyed beyond this world. There he met, and spoke with, the Divine source of the universe itself.
Throw Out Fifty Things: Clear the Clutter, Find Your Life by Gail Blanke
A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams by Jen Bryant (illustrated by Melissa Sweet)
Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting
by Pamela Druckerman
Make Good Art
by Neil Gaimann
Here are a few pages to show you how quirky and fun this book is:
Peaches for Father Francis: A Novel
by Joanne Harris
The Obituary Writer: A Novel
by Ann Hood
This one is so well written! Set in two different time periods, the story eventually comes together at the end. I couldn’t put this down!
I liked this book so much that I devoted an entire week of posts to it:
- “Steal Like An Artist” week: create your own world
- “Steal Like An Artist” week: the magic of books
- “Steal Like An Artist” week: the importance of hobbies
Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers
by Anne Lamott
Pictures of You
by Caroline Leavitt
Ignore Everybody: and 39 Other Keys to Creativity
by Hugh MacLeod
Global Soccer Mom: Changing the World Is Easier Than You Think
by Shayne Moore
Dying To Be Me: My Journey from Cancer, to Near Death, to True Healing by Anita Moorjani
I cannot say enough good things about this book. Moorjani’s description of the meaningfulness of her experience brought me much peace.
Me Before You: A Novel
by JoJo Moyes
Beautiful and selfless and so so good!
Travels In Alaska
by John Muir
by Audrey Niffeneger
Astrid and Veronika by Linda Olsson
So so good. I love books that create their own far away worlds. There were times I had trouble reading due to the sweet tears coming from my eyes. Such longing and intergenerational love.
by Scott Schuman
Schuman is a fashion photographer. Very interesting book.