I’m dorkishly in love with books, you guys. So choosing only seven was no easy task. The way they pile up around my house, you would think they are mating while I sleep. I sort of hope that’s true, because it would mean at least someone in my house is getting some action.
They crowd the corners, they teeter on the top of the already full bookshelves, despite the bags of them I take to resell. I read them six or seven or eight at a time. Sometimes it takes me a day to finish one, sometimes I only read a few pages at a time and it takes years to finish them. It depends. On the book, on the room or the mood I’m in. The only non-variable is books.
I have loads of cookbooks as you might imagine. I savor the beautiful food pictures, the poetic lists of ingredients, I can taste the spices as I read about them. Sometimes I cook the recipes in these books exactly as directed, sometimes I just use them for guidelines, getting ideas about new flavors, combinations, or how to use an ingredient that has fascinated, but evaded me. I love cookbooks, yes.
But I also, and probably even more so, love books about philosophy, religion, ideas, culture, art, fiction. I love reading poetry out loud in the bathtub, I rub my hands all over pages of art, photography – the life story captured in a single image, and I get absolutely lost in the beautiful and brutal bravery of a well written memoir. Real honest truths take my breath away. They remind me that the hardest, most unknowable things about life are revealed in the extraordinary stories of ordinary people. When people tell their most tender things, it has a way of permitting us to articulate and accept our own scary stuff. It takes fear and shame and turns it into facts. Small things can alter everything and the uncurable can be endured and transformed.
As the eleventh Dr. Who says,
We’re all just stories in the end.
So here is a list of seven of the books I have recently read that are well worth sharing because they are guaranteed to change your life. Really. Read them.
1. Sprouted Kitchen by Sara Forte with photography by Hugh Forte.
I would do pretty much anything to be invited to Sara and Hugh’s house for dinner. Or even just cocktails and snacks. This is part cookbook, part luscious, luscious food art book. Quinoa Collard Wraps w/ Miso-Carrot Spread, Mango Guacamole, Fennel Slaw, the perfect scrambled eggs and french pressed coffee, happy hour…
2. The Healthy Juicer’s Bible by Farnoosh Brock
Finally, a book that makes juicing feel easy and accessible. I don’t publicly talk about juice a ton. I’m not really sure why, seeing as I down the stuff by the half gallon. Maybe I’m silenced by the scads of people screaming “Green Juice!” all of the time all over the internet. This wellness conversation can sometimes feel bossy, elitist and lack a sense of humor. But this book is anything but. It is super sincere and full of the raw truth about how juice can be the key to a level of health you will be excited about maintaining. I treat my local juice bar (Kure in Portland) as necessary maintenance like the chiropracter, acupuncturist or exercise.
So kudos to Farnoosh for writing this gorgeous, straight forward, demystifying book about the wonders of getting fresh, enzyme-rich, and seriously DELICIOUS vegetable juice into your body. Jokes about tequila might be funnier than jokes about beet juice, but that is no excuse for your health to suffer. Juice rules, you guys. And whatever resistance you might have to adding it to your life will be assisted by this sweet little book. You want to know where to start? What kind of juicer to buy? How juice can make every single thing you do better? Plus mouthwatering recipes? This book.
3. Eating For Beauty by David Wolff
This isn’t the first time I have talked about this book. And it definitely won’t be the last. Out of all of the food books I have ever read, this one gave me the most motivation and understanding of what is so powerful and healing about food. It is such a comprehensive and accessible guide to the most powerful foods on earth and why. It covers the powerful properties of raw foods, popular health concerns and, in addition, it completely redefines beauty and how to achieve radiance from the inside. Plus there are these really rad pictures of food taken with kirlean photography. Which means you get to see the aura of an organic fig and stuff like that. Buy it for the fig auras. Keep it as a life line.
4. Help Thanks Wow by Anne Lamott
This simple little book was a gift to me from a client recently. I love presents! And, of course, it came at one of those times when a more perfect thing couldn’t have arrived at a more perfect time. Anne Lamott swiftly and without too much disclaimer, (after initially unpacking all of the heavy semantics around “God” and “Prayer”), presents three essential prayers – Help, Thanks and Wow.
Mostly, she reminds us that everything we are doing all day long is prayer and it is merely adding the intention that brings us back to wonder. That all of life is infused with sacristy if we choose to behave as if it is.
5. Seeing Ezra by Kerry Cohen
This is definitely one of those heartbreakingly beautiful memoirs. The ones where someone brave tells a story of their life and even though it might not be a thing that has ever happened to you, it beats your heart for a bit and makes you feel connected and alive and part of something bigger than yourself. Kerry writes about her life with her young autistic son and the challenges she faced learning to accept this unexpected situation, how she navigated, sometimes painfully, always powerfully, the myriad of input from the world about how to “fix” her child, and ultimately learned to see her son as a whole, perfect and incredibly dear gift.
This is a story of pure, unconditional love. It is a story for mothers. A story for artists. It is a story for anyone who has ever put something new and vulnerable and untamed into the world. This is a story of how we ultimately have to step back, shut out the noise, and find our way out of judgement and deep into the thick of grace to ever see anything at all with clarity. To ever see anything at all as whole. To ever truly see ourselves.
6. Fall Ill Medicine by Carrie Seitzinger
This is not your grandparent’s poetry. This brilliance gets bloody. It breaks ribs. And then swiftly, softly, and surprisingly mends the broken bits of your soul you didn’t even know needed mending. These poems will ride around under your skin casting shadows behind your eyelids. There are secrets here that want to speak. Trust me. You need this book.
7. The Elements of Style by Strunk/White/Kalman
I got this beauty of a book for my birthday last year and have since decided that it should be owned by every writer everywhere even if you aready have style and voice in spades – and you do, darling, you do. You need it because this book isn’t just about writing style, it is about stylestyle. From the little “hello” on the front cover, to the tiny “goodbye” in the back, the pages are filled with gleeful paintings to illustrate the perfection of well written prose. This is a book for reading, for learning, and for petting.
So, what awesome things have you read lately? Should I add them to my list?