sixty books : may and june

All you really need to know is I'm behind! So, so behind. But, I did read some pretty great books in the past two months, if not very many. You can find my list below...

Traveling With Pomegranates: A Mother-Daughter Story by Sue Monk Kidd, Ann Kidd Taylor

My mother-in-law, Edie, recommended this wise, loving book, and I couldn't put it down. Part dual memoir, part travelogue, it chronicles both women's desires to find themselves, redefine their relationship as mother and daughter (a modern day Demeter and Persephone, if you will), and satisfy their deep longing and hunger for female deity.  I actually found Sue Monk Kidd's reflections on letting go of her old creative self (the one that created life) and taking the terrifying step into the darkness of creating self (her novels, a woman outside of motherhood) the most moving and profound, and I wept when she expressed her desire to connect with God the Mother, the divine feminine, because I share many of those same feelings and longings.

"Rebirth is almost impossible without the darkness...I tell myself I am experiencing the death of myself as a mother, the death of myself as a younger woman -- precious old lives going by the wayside. Of course, I should let myself grieve. To deny the grief is to squander a transforming and radiant possibility."

"Women who bear the weight of opposition create a shelter for the rest of us."

It Starts with Food: Discover the Whole30 and Change Your Life in Unexpected Ways by Melissa and Dallas Hartwig

I've posted about the first half of my Whole30 experience right here, before I read the book, and I always meant to follow up on the second half. I'll just tell you I've never felt better in my life than when I was strictly following the Whole30 guidelines, and I continue to eat mostly vegetables, eggs, GOOD fats, and small amounts of high-quality animal protein. I wish I would have read this book BEFORE I started my first Whole30, but reading it just as I was finishing up validated what I was already experiencing and gave me the information, recipes, and outlines to continue in a sustainable way.

How to Grow More Vegetables by John Jeavons

This book arrived on my doorstep exactly 5 days after I planted my garden, and after reading it I realized I had done everything absolutely wrong! Luckily, I'll be better prepared for next year's garden, right? :) This excellent book covers everything you could ever need to know about gardening, and it is written specifically for those of us who want to grow lots of food on a small plot. The chapters on companion planting, composting, and bed-preparation were my favorite.

Let The Great World Spin by Colum McCann

This book is so, so good. It's a story full of smaller stories, all centered around a tight-rope walker's dance between the Twin Towers in lower Manhattan in the 1970s. McCann is a powerful writer, effortlessly weaving stories of heartbreak, guilt, family, race, love, death, and healing together to create this beautiful book. I've already ordered his most recent novel, TransAtlantic, and can't wait to read it.

"She was tired of everyone wanting to go to heaven, nobody wanting to die. The only thing worth grieving over, she said, was that sometimes there was more beauty in this life than the world could bear."

"There are moments we return to, now and always. Family is like water - it has a memory of what it once filled, always trying to get back to the original stream."

"I recalled the myth that I had once heard as a university student - thirty-six hidden saints in the world, all of them doing the work of humble men, carpenters, cobblers, shepherds. They bore the sorrows of the earth and they had a line of communication with God, all except one, the hidden saint, who was forgotten. The forgotten one was left to struggle on his own, with no line of communication to that which he so hugely needed. Corrigan had lost his line with God: he bore the sorrows on his own, the story of stories."

The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy

Forget whatever you've heard about the Barbara Streisand film and find this book. It's dark and tragic and at parts unbearable to read, but I read it at a feverish pace, taking in all of the characters (and falling a little in love with Luke Wingo and his impassioned anti-nuclear speech) and carrying them around with me for weeks afterward. It's a powerful book centered on family, forgiveness, the horrors of child abuse, and a deep love of place.

"Rape is a crime against sleep and memory; it's after image imprints itself like and irreversible negative from the camera of obscure dreams. Though their bodies would heal, their souls had sustained a damage beyond compensation."

"I realized early that unless you're willing to kill the innocent, you can't win."

I also decided to include The Paris Review in my reading list, since each issue is 250+ pages and usually takes me 4-5 days to read. I've read 3 issues so far this year. If you don't subscribe to The Paris Review, you can order them here, or at least take advantage of the massive archive they have on their site. So many amazing interviews with writers, film makers, and artists, it is a treasure!

And that's it! I have a stack of 6 books on my dresser I can't wait to start reading, and hopefully I'll be able to squeeze 8 in this month. We'll see how it goes. :)

Now, what are you reading?


Hayley said...

I jsut finished Wild by Cheryl Strayed and Beyond The Sky and The Earth by Jamie Zeppa. I think you'd like both!

Rachel Swan said...

Hayley, I was just talking to my friend about Wild yesterday and she told me she loved it! I'll have to hunt it down at the library! I love getting recommendations, so keep them coming! XO

Emily said...

I'm interested in reading more than one of these myself! I'm currently in The Grapes of Wrath for the first time, which is weird because I love Steinbeck's other work so much. His small novellas are a delight and very quick if you want to "catch up" I want to say you read and liked Travels With Charley but there are others like The Pearl, Tortilla Flat, etc... Before that I read a great non-fiction book called Salamander -- The Mormon Forgery Murders that details the Mark Hofmann bombings in SLC in the 80s. For some reason I just really dig murder investigation non-fiction... The Executioners Song (Gary Gilmore case SF), In Cold Blood (Truman Capote). Lastly, I'm going to say I think you'd really enjoy Moonwalking With Einstein but Joshua Foer, it's a wonderful pop psychology read about memory, perfect summertime book.

Rachel Swan said...

Em, (we're' commenting on each other's blogs again, OMG) I've read all of Steinbeck's work, and recently went back to The Grapes of Wrath after a decade from my first reading. I was BLOWN AWAY. His work is wasted on high school honors English classes, in my humble opinion. I'm putting all of your recommendations on my list - I've already looked a few up on Amazon/Wiki. I can't wait.

Also, I wish I could fly to NYC and sit with you in the back of a beautiful cafe on a rainy day like today. We would have a hilarious, good conversation, I'm sure of it. Love you, lady.

Emily said...

right?! it's funny, cycles are funny. I think we're going to turn into hilarious old ladies that remain ridiculously out of touch and be the last two users of blogger, sporadically writing book reviews for each other. it's perfect. Yes please, and I'll read your cards too! xoxo

Rachel Swan said...

Are you reading cards these days? I was going to ask when I saw a deck on your blog a few weeks back. I am officially fascinated and intrigued. Maybe I can sneak away in the spring?

HA! Old ladies on blogger! :)

Rachel Swan said...
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