“Cozy- The Art of Arranging Yourself in the World” by Isabel Gillies
It makes sense that I was drawn to this book in the middle of a pandemic and being forced to stay at home. I am all about coziness. Cozy clothes. Cozy spaces to read in front of my cozy fire with a cozy cup of tea.
Gillies takes us through a journey of coziness as we live our daily lives. We journey from ourselves to our homes to nature and technology to traveling to facing difficult challenges.
In the end, coziness comes from a deep sense of self.
A passage I love:
Cozy is an attitude, not a thing—a shortcut to bringing the most essential parts of ourselves with us wherever we go. Once you put your finger on what makes you feel solid, supported, and calm, you can arrange yourself in a world that can be cold, awkward, dangerous, inauthentic, and unpredictable.
“Station Eleven” a novel by Emily St. John Mandel
The king stood in a pool of blue light, unmoored.
I’ve had this book in my to-be-read stacks for a while. I am obsessed with dystopian literature. Not sure that choosing to read this particular novel about a flu pandemic that devastates the world population was the best choice but once I started it, I couldn’t put it down.
It is so beautifully written and the structure that moves back and forth in time was perfect. We see life before, during and after the pandemic, and some of the scenes felt way too close to what we are currently experiencing. The story itself is mesmerizing and the writing, lyrical. I even teared up at the ending.
The sentence that made me teary:
If there are again towns with streetlights, if there are symphonies and newspapers, then what else might this awakening world contain?
“Know My Name” a memoir by Chanel Miller
The fact that I spelled subpoena, subpoenas, may suggest I am not qualified to tell this story.
To be honest, this book wasn’t really on my radar. I thought it would be heart-breaking, enraging and I wondered what the quality of the writing would be.
Well, it was heart-breaking. It was enraging. And the writing was phenomenal.
This post from Glennon Doyle made me run out and buy it.:
Everything she says it spot on.
I admit, that I will often skim passages in books. But with this one I felt compelled, even obligated to read every word. To honor her with my devoted attention. To honor her story. To honor every word she put onto the page.
Every single person should read this.
Reading it now, in the midst of this crisis was interesting. While it is not the same AT ALL, her resilience was inspiring. Her story hopeful.
Chanel and her story and her writing are all lights in the darkness.
This sentence felt like a punch in the gut:
The judge had given Brock something that would never be extended to me: empathy. My pain was never more valuable that his potential.
“Big Magic-Creative Living Beyond Fear” by Elizabeth Gilbert
Q: What is creativity”
A: The relationship between a human being and the mysteries of inspiration.
So, even though I have 593 books in my home that I haven’t yet read, (Yes, I counted them this week cuz quarantine.) I picked up this gem to read for at least the third or fourth time.
I was listening to Liz give a TedTalk about the current pandemic and the challenges presented by sheltering -in-place and I found so much solace in her words. So I decided to find even more solace in this book again. Her vision of creativity and inspiration is both pragmatic and filled with magic which I love. I picked it up because I’ve been feeling anything but creative and inspired these days.
I found myself nodding at the many sentences and passages I had underlined previously and underling new ones that speak to me now.
It was so worth the re-read. I felt thoroughly restored and rejuvenated after closing the pages.
A new line I underlined:
Work with all your heart, because—I promise—if you show up for your work day after day, you just might get lucky enough some random morning to burst right into bloom.
We are all just beginners here, and we shall all die beginners.
“This Is Not Your City” stories by Caitlin Horrocks
It is July and we are a miraculous age.
I heard about this amazing writer several years ago at a writing retreat when the instructor praised her as the most talented student he’d ever had. So, I immediately bought her book. Sadly, it got lost in my many many many piles of TBR books.
I recently read her current novel and was blown away by the story and her writing and I remembered having her story collection. So, I searched my shelves and found it.
It did not disappoint. As a reader, I was hooked by every story which is unusual for me. There is often at least one story that I skim. Not so in this case.
As a writer, this collection felt like a masterclass in writing short stories. But not the kind that seem like they are workshopped and born out strictly of an MFA program. They are born out her experience and imagination, each story a world rich with detail and complex characters.
Reading this book has me itching to return writing short stories again.
A passage I love:
Then I realized that the pain doesn’t travel so much anymore as live there. It’s settled on in, it’s farming her bones, and it doesn’t need to travel because it’s never going anywhere.
“You Are a Badass Everyday” by Jen Sincero
It always surprises me when people say, “I’m not a creative person.”
I was looking for something easy to read. Easily digestible. My focus can be shaky these days. As I perused my shelves I landed on this one. Since I’d read her other two books I opened it up. Yep, this would do. The chapters were short and sweet. As I read, I could see it was a reminder of some of the more important lessons in her other two books. It was just what I needed. A reminder to stay present, to be myself, to stay motivated and overcome challenges but to also lighten up and find joy.
This was a good reminder:
Motivation, commitment, focus—these are a muscles that, like any muscle, required strengthening.