Oh my goodness – August is over, everyone has posted their summery photos of oceans and tomatoes and, if my Facebook feed is any indicator, yesterday was the first day back to school.
And my August was seriously busy. I went to see a giant rubber duck in the harbor in San Pedro.
I went to an island and hiked and ate a gorgeous picnic that we did not photograph because, as it turns out, when Amanda and I hike for miles on end and I deal with the anxiety that always creeps in that I might actually die on an island, or at least be forced to survive in the wilds with limited water and wild animals about, I cannot stop to photograph the food. I need to eat.
We made pasta from scratch. So, what I’m saying there is that my life changed forever.
My month was so busy, in fact, that I read more short(ish) Internet articles than I did books. But that’s okay. With giant rubber ducks and surviving in the wilderness (for six hours) and making pasta, you can only fit in so many books.
- Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg: You can ask at least a dozen of my friends – right now, I feel like I recommend Lean In to every woman (and some men) that I talk to. It might seem a little odd, but this book pretty much rocked my world. I thought there could be a few relatable gems in there, some raise-your-fist-in-solidarity moments, but I didn’t expect it to be as applicable to my life as it was. Sandberg is a business executive; I’m a writer. The business world and the literary world are quite different. Except that, sometimes they’re not. And we’re both women who want success and equality and fairness and progress. And if the VIDA count is any indication, there’s still a lot of gender disparity to contend with in the literary world. And beyond all of that, this book was about looking at the small ways that we internalize myths and half-truths about ourselves, our abilities, our work ethic, and our self-worth.
- The End of the Point by Elizabeth Graver: This novel, y’all. It was my favorite thing I read last month (and it was a good month, so that’s quite a distinction). The book tells the story of the Porter family, who own property in the fictional coastal town, Ashaunt Point, on the coast of Massachusetts. Following the characters through generations, through wars, the novel is far-reaching and graceful in the way it handles family discord and high expectations and failure and hope. This novel is sprawling, transporting, gorgeously written. The sense of wildness and the way it’s grounded in place and the characters. Sigh. I highly recommend it.
- The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food by Judith Jones: Judith Jones, famed former Knopf editor who gave us such gems as Julia Child’s cookbook and Edna Lewis’s The Taste of Country Cooking, has given us a lovely memoir of her life in publishing and in food. If you’re familiar with her life at all, then some of the book will seem a bit repetitive, but I enjoyed getting to know the editor behind so many wonderful cookbooks.
- Because I moved away from Virginia, I don’t get to write for Distinction magazine anymore, but I still love it from afar, and I particularly enjoyed this article about a local Hampton Roads woman who became a beekeeper and got her husband in on it too (eventually).
- Maria Popova’s website Brain Pickings always has a fun think piece or two about writing and creativity. This one was on my radar this month, a consideration of the potential benefits of routine and work flow. I myself have become very disciplined about my office, my schedule, and my desk. Not that it’s the magic key to creativity – Popova gets that right at the end, the only way to get it done is just to do it – but it’s interesting to see the research on routines.
- Eudora Welty applied for a job at The New Yorker in 1933, and it’s the best thing ever.
- Dani Shapiro discussed the benefit of sitting quietly with emotion, with experience, rather than documenting it on social media.
- This article just made me so happy – I sent it to Amanda and told her that, should we ever win the lottery, I want to buy houses with fig trees and slowly renovate them to create havens of love and peace and comfort. Also, would I have the most gorgeous food blog ever if I lived in this house? Yes, I would. Without question.