Hip Mom Hits the Books
Ah, fall: a time for cool mornings, crunchy, orange-hued foliage, nights by the fire, raucous tailgating parties, euphoric football games, the carnal smell of smoking meat in the air while a fiery sun sets…
HAHAHAHA! I’m kidding! We live in Tulsa! It’s not getting cold until November, and at the time of this writing, who knows whether there’s any football going on? What a downer!
But — there is one thing we can all still cozy up to do in the fall: books! I know, a little boring, but certainly fall is a time for introspection, slowing down and returning – a little! – to the life of the mind. Hopefully your kids are in school in some capacity, so it’s the perfect time to reach for a book. Many of my friends had different “lockdown” reading experiences; some found it was the perfect time to curl up with a book, and others felt like they were too stressed out and diverted to read, preferring to unwind with mindless social media scrolling and Netflix. Um, that was me. So I’m trying to orient my brain again around the simple but decadent pleasure of reading a book. If you haven’t read for a while, there are plenty of resources to figure out where your next book is coming from.
I’ve been on the website Goodreads for years, but didn’t really use it track my reading until a dear friend (who shall reappear in this article) shared at the end of the year a stunning collage of the many books she had read through the year. So many beautiful books! Wait? How did she do that? She read THAT many? But I read War and Peace! Can I read that many books? Of course the goal isn’t competition, or quantity, but reading is one of the few areas in life where I’m competitive! Goodreads allows you to track your reading, rate books, and see what your friends are reading; it’s a great spot to snoop and get good reviews. And oh the bragging rights with that end-of-the-year summary! If you fall in love with a book, you can even stalk the authors, who post special events and messages. There are discussion groups, Ask the Author forums, even Trivia and Book Quizzes. In fact, you could spend so much time on Goodreads that you forget to read. Don’t do that!
Another wonderful resource: a local Tulsa mom, Jill (noted above whose reading life is something I aspire to emulate!) has a beautiful Instragram – technically Bookstagram: what.jill.reads. She posts a picture (with some sort of lush backdrop) of her latest book, and gives a concise, thoughtful review of every book she posts. She’s already read 70 books this year! How does Jill discover what to read next? She’s a fan of the podcast “Currently Reading,” where two moms discuss their reading lives (a particularly entertaining recent episode involved discussing what books they wanted to throw against the wall). She’s also a member of the “Book of the Month Club,” which, for a mere $14.99 per month, sends you one book each month from a selection of that month’s hottest new books. A hardcover for the price of a Kindle book? That’s a good deal for me! Jill likes Book of the Month Club because it introduces her to new authors and new genres she wouldn’t necessarily read.
What are Jill’s recent favorites? She really liked Valentine. She says, “The writing is phenomenal. The characters are gritty Midwestern women that I recognized….The West Texas setting is as unrelenting as the characters themselves. The collective viewpoints of women from different generations (a young girl, a teenager, a young mother, a widow) during this single snapshot in time is so powerful.” Wow!
But she also said she needed a bit lighter fare during this time of hard things in the world. To fit that bill, she recommended The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires. It’s about a group of Southern suburban moms who take on a vampire! “There were a few scenes that were honestly the most gruesome things I’ve ever read. But oddly, because the situations were so outlandish and unreal, the gruesome parts were not as disturbing as they might have been otherwise.” Jill concludes: “If you think a crazy tale of Steel Magnolias meets Dracula sounds fun, then I think you will love this book!” All of Jill’s thoughtful reviews can be found at what.jill.reads.
Finally, there are are a few podcasts that I love to listen to; perhaps my favorite is Anne Bogel’s “What Should I Read Next.” Her podcast was born out of her successful blog and website, Modern Mrs. Darcy. She invites a bookish guest on the show to discuss three books the guest loved and one book she or he didn’t. Then based on Anne’s bookish knowledge – and a dash of alchemy thrown in – Anne recommends a few books. I almost always come away feeling like I’ve had a lovely chat with old friends, and excited about a few new books. Tim Ferriss also recommends books on his podcast — more nonfiction and biography. Tim’s a little full of himself, but still informative and entertaining!
So there you go. And remember this quotation from (perhaps) a vampire in The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires: “A reader lives many lives…The person who doesn’t read lives but one. But if you’re happy just doing what you’re told and reading what other people think you should read, then don’t let me stop you. I just find it sad.” Don’t be sad, ladies! Go find some other lives to live!