Although I haven’t posted a book review here in a while, what with all the holidays/winter break/kids off school/random illnesses mishegos going on in this house, rest assured: Much reading has actually been done. So as I’ve been walking around the house collecting books to return to the library tomorrow, I thought that instead of one long review I’d tell you just a little bit about several of the more noteworthy titles I’ve recently finished. I’d love to hear about what you’ve been reading recently, as well!
First up is Alice Waters’ memoir, Coming to My Senses: The Making of a Counterculture Cook. I have of course heard of Alice Waters, the Slow Food movement, and the “little French restaurant” she launched (with no formal training or experience) in Berkeley during the height of the counterculture movement, but I didn’t know much about her background or the full story of how Chez Panisse came into being. If you, too, have been curious, Coming to My Senses provides some of that backstory — although be forewarned that Waters’ stilted, dry writing style doesn’t really do it justice. The fact that I stuck it out to the end is a testament to the importance of Waters’ life and work, but an outside biographer might actually have done a better job in making her story come to life.
If you spend any time online, you’ve probably at some point or another run across a Buzzfeed article or two (or 2000…). In A World Without Whom, Buzzfeed copy chief Emmy J. Favilla tackles the thorny questions of style and standardization in the Internet age, but in typical irreverent Buzzfeed style. You’ll find the entire Buzzfeed word guide in the back, but the book itself provides the background narrative of how these stylistic choices came to be — along with plenty of digressions and chit-chat about everything from memes to political correctness.
While Favilla’s breezy writing style (and stylistic choices) might put off some language purists, she’s definitely on the front lines of our ever-evolving language and provides a useful behind-the-scenes look at the thought process behind Buzzfeed’s choices. A World Without Whom also brings to mind Kory Stamper’s Word by Word, although if you have time to read just one, Stamper’s is the better choice.
Back in November I told you guys about trying to do NaNoWriMo for the first time (the challenge being to complete a 50,000 word novel during that month). Well, I got about 10,000 words in to my cozy mystery and was going gangbusters… and then, I got sick for the last 2.5 weeks of the month with some horrible almost flu-ish virus and totally lost my momentum. I’m just getting back into the manuscript now (I will finish this year!) — and, although I’m not writing a romance, Jennifer Probst’s Write Naked: A Bestseller’s Secret to Writing Romance & Navigating the Path to Success nonetheless jumped right off the new book shelf at the library and right into my bag.
And, although I’m not writing a romance, Write Naked still proved useful as a down-to-earth guide to the writing and publishing process as a whole. Probst weaves tales from her own writing and publishing journey together with solid advice from both other writers and herself, along with short exercises to help jump start the creative process. (And, I believe this line might be addressed directly to me: “Finish the damn book.”)
Perhaps you, too, struggle a bit with organization? It’s January, so Organized Enough: The Anti-Perfectionist’s Guide to Getting — and Staying — Organized seems somewhat apropos, and organized enough seems somewhat doable. Professional organizer Amanda Sullivan here outlines her FLOW process: Forgive yourself, Let stuff go, Organize what’s left, Weed constantly. Throughout, she illustrates the process with the stories of various clients facing different organizational challenges.
One of her examples of organized enough? “Having a general meal plan for the week,” as opposed to “rigidly adhering to a weekly menu.” Well hey, I’m down with that. Have I yet taken the other actions recommended in the book? Well… no. But now I at least have some hope that I could. 😉
What are you reading this week?
What have you been reading lately? Tell us all about it! And, you can browse all of the What’s Rachel Reading? book reviews here.