This Week In My Library: 8.29.23Aug 28, 2023
rules, an octopus and mouth-kissing the universe
Life Of A Bookman
Bookman: 1. a person who has a love of books and especially of reading. 2. a person who is involved in the writing, publishing, or selling of books. Oh, hi thats me!!
Jenna Bush's Book Club isn't normally my thing BUT: Remarkably Bright Creatures is a real treat. It's a Jenna's book club pick about a woman who befriends an Octopus after an immense amount of loss. That friendship not only sustains her but helps her move on. I'm only half way but I'm enjoying this debut novel by Shelby Van Pelt. I have a bad habit of “guessing the ending” and while I'm not sure if I'm right about how I think this story will go, I don't think I care. The characters are lovely, especially the sassy octopus and it's generally “very readable.” FTR: Jenna's book club...Reese's book club...even Oprah's book club...they don't normally send me racing to buy a book. I heavily rely on recommendations from people in my life (even if those said people are ones in my ear every week via podcasts lol). So, after this book had come up in conversation one-too-many times, I picked it up in a little bookstore in Sonoma over the weekend.
A book gifted to me that I devoured: I'm normally an annoyingly good sleeper. But one night (probably a full moon??) I absolutely could not sleep so I filled the hours with The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis. I adored this historical novel with a dual story line, one set in present-ish day and one in the early 1900s. It was a mystery I couldn't guess my way out of if I tried (which I did). There's scenes from that book that still visit my imagination, but mostly the historical character, Laura Lyons, was a trailblazer whose choices were imperfect in pursuit of trying to find out who she was and what she believed. I loved it, because the path to truth (or progress) isn't always paved in sainthood.
What I'm writing: The most intimate relationship I'm in right now is with a woman who has been dead for 100 years, aka my main character of That Novel. And I'm loving it. It's so wild to spend every day communing on the page with a ghost that surprises me, inspires me, saddens me, and ultimately, feels like a whole, complicated, wondrous woman. Finally. Because that was my goal...in bringing her to life, to bring do it in a way that both honors her legacy and lets her be more than one thing. Her history, the way it's currently told in some very famous corners of the world, is so one-dimensional. That's no one's fault. But it's amazing what spending over two years with someone letters, records, and stories will do. It also makes me a little sad that no one a hundred years from now will be able to do this for any of us...I guess they'll be reading our text messages? But that's just not the same as holding their handwritten, ink-strewn paper from 1896.
What gets passed down becomes our history. A few for the canon: Dating is rife with predatory and contradictory content. “To attract the masculine, you need to be in your feminine.” ...“Let them come to you.”...“Make the first move (there's an app for that!)...It's confusing how regressive ideas around dating are, even though it is 2023. But this is nothing new. Look no further than The Rules, written for women to find and marry men in the 1990s, featured on the podcast If Books Could Kill. I loved listening to how absolutely backwards the ideas were, which swamped cultural consciousness then. But I'd argue there's damaging remnants that still remain today. Give it a listen if you want an entertaining (albeit horrifying) look at the dating-advice landscape then and now.
Pass it on
Stories are heirlooms. Here's one of mine: Last year I officiated one of my bestie's weddings. It was perfect. She was perfect. And the perfection was heightened the next day when a couple I'd bonded with over the wedding weekend ended up delayed and we, naturally, went to dinner to fill the time. Fast forward 16 months and I'm in Oakland visiting, having dinner with said bride turned very happy newlywed. We're talking about said couple, aka my wedding weekend besties...and no more than 5 minutes later, at a restaurant in a city where neither of us live, walks in said couple. The follow-up text I received to this wildly joyful, kismet moment included, “The universe really kissed us on the mouth last night!” – It sure did. And I hope this week you have plenty of hot, steamy mouth kisses with the universe, however small.
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