hardback, paperback, electronic, vintage, book store floors piled with dusty, old books.
And I love book lists and discovering new books and drooling over beautiful book covers.
Last year I put together a list of my favorite books of 2013, so I thought I'd do the same for this year. Plus, I'm adding some books that have been on my to-read list forever and that I plan on actually reading in the new year. Yay for books!
fiction - The Paying guests
It is 1922, in a genteel house in a genteel neighborhood just outside of London. Here, the widowed Mrs. Wray and her 26-year-old daughter, Frances, pass each day very much like the day before—with Frances busying herself with household chores, maybe a bit of needlepoint, and her mother nibbling on a lunch of cauliflower cheese while making notes for the parish newsletter. In less skilled hands, such prolonged stage-setting would test even the most patient reader. But in Waters’, it’s mesmerizing, with every small but evocative detail serving to transport you further into this place and time. Take a deep breath as you’re reading, because as soon as you are you lulled into the calm cadence of these lives, the Wray’s tenants—the 'paying guests' they have taken in to help with the bills—turn everything topsy-turvy, and by the novel’s conclusion, you have gone from straight-up period piece, to love story, to edge-of-your-seat crime thriller (and not the American kind “with a plot full of holes” that the Wrays suffer through on picture-house Wednesdays). For a story set just after WWI, some of the themes Waters touches on are surprisingly contemporary. History does repeat itself sometimes, and so it goes for Sarah Waters, with yet another masterful novel.
business - the renegade writer
Keep query letters to one page. Never call an editor. Face-to-face interviews take up too much time. According to sassy authors Formichelli and Burrell, such standard rules about freelance writing ought to be tossed in the wastebasket with last year's self-addressed-stamped-envelopes. So why do so many writers stick to the rules? 'Bugaboos abound because freelance writers work largely on their own,' the authors explain, and such isolation makes it hard to learn about better procedures and ideas. Their own guide aims to set freelance writers straight. Full of great tips and common sense, the book demystifies all the stages of getting a piece published, from 'Cranking up the Idea Factory' to 'Getting the Green.' Their overall advice: 'Timely ideas and professional attitude...will take you further than the so-called 'connections' lesser writers gnash their teeth over.'
personal development - mind over medicine
In this elegant and exhaustively researched book Dr Lissa Rankin offers compelling evidence both that human beings are far more than an assemblage of chemicals and electrical signalling, and that that the mind is the very best drug there is. Prepare to open yourself to an entirely new paradigm of medicine, health and healing.
spirituality - polishing the mirror
This collection of teachings by Ram Dass (Be Here Now), one of the United States' most famous spiritual seekers, is surprisingly fresh and accessible more than 40 years after the psychedelic psychologist first wrote about consciousness expansion through LSD. The anecdote-packed chapters cover many of the practices Ram Dass has used-devotional bhakti yoga, worldly karma yoga, daily practices like meditation and chanting-in his quest to become a more loving, compassionate being. He discusses serious issues with a frankness that opens up difficult topics, such as how he coped with a stroke that drastically changed his understanding of his role in the world. No longer did he feel special, 'under the protective umbrella of my guru,' he writes. Instead, he realized he was subject to the same, sometimes painful, process of aging and dying that everybody faces. His willingness to admit his own mistakes and turn them into lessons for personal growth is refreshing, and allows readers to see themselves in his story. The collection successfully straddles a fine line, providing both a broad overview for those new to Ram Dass's writings and an engaging recap for readers who have enjoyed his previous books.
on my to-read list:
What are your favorite books of the year? What's on your to-read list?
Give me your juiciest book recommendations over here.