Thursday, July 21, 2011

Summer Reading, Defined.

(*I write this very post LIVE from The Farmhouse master bedroom. "Master" is a relative term in a 125 year old house... there is alas, no bathroom with a garden tub attached, and the only thing close to a walk-in closet is the laundry room, which IS attached. I swear, nothing in this house makes any sense at all. I am patiently (not really) waiting on The Toddlers to close their little eyes and mouths and sleep for two hours - an experience everyone else calls "naptime," and I call "maintaining my sanity." Josh is blissfully out of town for the week, and The Middle Schooler and I just had tomato sandwiches (surprise!) for lunch. She only ate half, just sayin'. )

Well, I guess if I am getting ANYTHING done this summer, it's reading. Oh. And paying for the cheerleading adventure. Two things that I guess, in the end, can be deemed important. Right?! I hope you have found yourself lost in at least one good book. Since you too might be interested in making up your own reading list ... so you can feel as if you are accomplishing great things in your life... I decided to break down my list for you by "how" I chose the books on my list. Enjoy.

First and foremost, everyone needs a
1. A popular, New York Times Bestseller.

You know this book, right? The one on all the shelves that you avoid for MONTHS because it looks, well... you know, waaaaay to mainstream for the likes of you! And then you realize, aw, shucks, who was I kidding, I just wanna be part of the crowd. Part of the dream. And thus, I picked up, loved, and still discuss "The Help." To think I avoided it for WEEKS on the bookshelves, turning my "I-heard-about-this-on-NPR-before-anyone-else" nose in the air.... A SHAME! Jump the shark for at least one title, ya'll. Otherwise, we'd miss out on great books like the Harry Potter series, and yes, Lord Have Mercy, The Twilight series. I can't believe I just let those words appear on the screen. Don't tell anyone.

2. An author who you already love

An author who you already loveChoose a book you've never read by an author you have... Listen, this is just a little secret way to make youself look well-read in literary circles. Since we're all hanging out in literary circles. If you have already read one book and loved it why not go for a second? I read Robert Hicks, "Widow of the South" a few years ago. So when I saw his name again on the bookshelf, I knew it would be a sure thing. Besides (see #10) I love a good history book. Fiction or otherwise.

3. A Guilty Pleasure

For you, it might be Harry Potter or maybe something way more sophisticated, like something by Danielle Steele. For me, it's Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda all the way. Come on now. Ya'll know you love you some Carrie Bradshaw just as much as I do. I grew myself into my thirties watching Carrie and Big. I even saw the second movie with my MOM. Yes. I sat in a theater WITH Mimi while inappropriate words and body parts flew across the screen. It was, in a word, awesome. When I heard that Carrie had a whole life before Manhatten... I had to know all about it. Sex and The City is definitely my Stay At Home Mama closet obsession.

4. One Good Reccomendation

Translation : A book everyone and their brother suggests when they find out you are making a list of books to read. For me, it went something like this... "What's that? You're looking for a good book? OMG, you HAVE to read "The Shack." Oh yeah. YOu have too. It's so heartbreaking. So life changing!" Gee. Great. CAN'T WAIT. If one person suggested "The Shack," I swear, so did 43 others. SO I WROTE IT ON THE LIST ALREADY, PEOPLE. The truth is, if someone else (or 4356 others) read it and loved it enough to tell you about it, it could never hurt to try it. Peer pressure, people... peer pressure.

5. A Major Motion Picture

Don't you just wanna roll your eyes at your friends who go see a movie with you, and then after, tell you the book was way, way better? This way, you can roll in the pompous movie critic crowd, and inform everyone with you that yes, YOU have ALREADY read the book and found it much better than the silly old film version. This happened to me when "Like Water for Elephants" came out. I had no idea it even WAS a book. FOR SHAME. Get out, get cultural, and "read" a movie.

6. An Inspirational Title

Maybe you like to paint or draw or cook or do Soduku. I don't really understand Soduku, and try to stay as far, far away from it (and math in general) as possible. I kinda itch when we start talking about it. What were we talking about again? BOOKS! YES! "So You Want to Write" was a title suggested by the author of a blog I read everyday, called "EnjoyingThe Small Things," by Kelle Cryderman Hampton. I am sometimes afraid of truth and getting way too authentic with my writing, Like taking something I am good at to the next level (*there, I said it) scares me. So I put it a little down on the list. It's kinda like denial. Only better. Read something that improves something about you. YOU are special, and have many talents, even if you don't like to talk about them. Other people do. Like me, for example.

7. Something Funny.

A few years ago, when I worked for my Jewish Parents (aka, my bosses) in the fancy Stationery Store, my lady boss handed me a copy of Billy Crystal's book, "700 Sundays." She said it reminded her of her childhood in NYC. I rolled my eyes and accepted it, cause you know, I am nice and all. I never in a million thought I would laugh so hard I cried. I did. It was a wonderful, heartwarming, FUNNY read about the 700 Sundays Billy spent with his father. He counted them. Who knew Billy Crystal could WRITE? So, fast foward to this spring, when I read an excerpt from Tina Fey's book, "Bossypants," online. I love Tina Fey. I love Billy Crystal. Made sense to me. Everybody could use a reminder that life is a blessing - and we ALL need to lighten up, most especially about ourselves.

8. A Before or an After

So, the men have all those crazy Star Wars movies... with the prequels and the sequels and the Clone Wars and blah blah blah. Find yourself a good beginning, or a follow up to another book you already read, and loved. I read "The Glass Castle," a couple of years ago, on one of those crazy (see #4) recommendations from about a million + friends, when I mistakenly asked Facebook what I should read next. Turns out, it's now one of my favorite books of all time. The prequel to "The Glass Castle," is "Half Broke Horses," which is the story of Jeanette's maternal grandmother, and her days as a horse-breakin' cowgirl. The icing on the cake? It's a true story. Find a good before or after is just like watching a makeover show on Oprah. I miss Oprah.

9. A Piece of History

I had the best two high school history teachers. They were the Mr. and Mrs. Universe of history education. One wrote all his notes in chalk on the big board, and we spent the entire hour copying down everything he had written, while he lectured on something completely different - because, well, he frequently shall we say, "digressed" into politics and what was / is really wrong with this country. I learned all about The Civil War and other southern history from him. The other, a refined southen belle, who drove a silver-blue vette and big Jackie-O sunglasses, taught me about the history of The World. She had a huge, wall-to-wall map of the world in her classroom, and frequently reminded us that history ALWAYS repeats itself. I also had, for one brief and amazing year, a political science class that probably changed my life. It was the trifecta of social science education. A storm was a' brewin'. Now, sixteen years later, I read almost every history book I can put my hands on, for the love of country. I decided I should branch out of my historical nerdiness, so I only allowed myself ONE for The List. David McCollough writes EVERYTHING historically wonderful. It was an easy addition.

10. A Pretty Book

Hey, maybe you CAN judge a book by it's cover. I hope so, anyway. Go to the bookstore, run your hands across the tops of all the books, and stop on the one that catches your eye. Sometimes, it's all about the life and otherwise.

Well. I think I have now officially spent waaaay too much time on this ... and not enough time, say... vaccuming. Ahhhh... nevermind. Time well spent.

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