The Last Book(s) I Bought

I have to admit: I’ve been on a bit of a book buying tear.¬†IMG_8573.JPG
After not buying books for the first months of 2017, I have bought¬†5 in the last month. It all started on Independent Bookstore Day when I took a ride out to one of my favorite shops and walked away with three books: Colson Whitehead’s¬†The Underground Railroad, Emily St. John Mandel’s¬†Station Eleven, and Lindy West’s¬†Shrill.

Of the three, I’ve already read¬†Shrill and I absolutely adored it.¬†The book of essays – which toes the lines between funny and serious – was truly a wonderful read. West’s asides, musings, and watchful eye were exactly what I needed at the moment I read it (don’t you just love when that happens?).

This weekend, I caught up with an old friend (and lovely librarian) for brunch that included wonderful conversation (both bookish and not), Strawberry-Rose Lemonade, and breakfast food (burrito for me; omelet for her). We spent a few moments lusting over everything in Anthropologie before moving onto the most important part of the day: perusing an independent bookstore.

We spent time looking through a bookstore that like the Tardis was (much) bigger on the inside. The store looked small and intimate from the outside but once you step inside it is a labyrinth of shelves and even a second story. I was immediately smitten.

The shelves, which were almost up to the surprisingly-tall ceilings, were overflowing with books, and the store had that perfect smell for which this blog is named: worn books. It was the type of place where I would have wanted to curl up in a corner with a stack of books. I could have run my fingers along the book spines all day.

It took a little while but I ended up with two books I’ve been wanting to read (and have picked up and put down at other bookstores): Kristopher Jansma’s Why We Came to the City and¬†Ann Patchett’s¬†¬†Commonwealth.¬†Welcome to the family!

P.S. Three of these books were on my top books of 2016 that I would read in 2017. Take that, reading goals!

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What books have you bought recently?¬†Have you read any of these books? Do you also lust of everything in Anthropologie? Please tell me I’m not alone, okay?


What I’m Reading: Big Magic

I won’t lie to you: 2016 was one of the least¬†creative years of my life.

I wrote less, read less, and created less than I have in years. There were a lot of factors as to why but I’m trying to shed some of that baggage and make 2017 my most creative year yet.

So I decided to start the year off with Elizabeth Gilbert’s 2016 hit,¬†Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. It’s been an easy, if not surprising, read.


Maybe I did not read enough reviews but the book is (or feels) much more metaphysical and otherworldly than I expected. Gilbert’s view is that creativity and inspiration and ideas are all things that are out of our control. They exist outside us and find us whether or not the time is right. We cannot control what artistic thought finds us – just how or when we run with it.

It’s in discussing creative practice and craft where I enjoy Gilbert’s advice the most. She felt like my wise older sister who had survived ¬†overbearing parents, bad boyfriends, and friendship break-ups, and was ensuring you didn’t make the same mistakes. Gilbert offers a lovely anecdote about a famous poet named Jack Gilbert (no relation) who asked all his students to be brave in the pursuit of their poetry.

To one student who told Jack Gilbert that she wanted to be a writer, he said:

“Do you have the courage? Do you have the courage to bring forth this work? The treasures that are¬†hidden inside you are hoping you will say yes.”

Isn’t that just lovely?

Despite the sometimes quasi-spiritual tone, there have been a few moments when I felt myself completely on-board myself with Gilbert’s philosophy. One was when she was describing the way to stay sane while pursuing and living a creative life: to deeply care about your work while also not caring about it at all.¬†Gilbert writes:

¬†It matters./It doesn’t matter.

Build space in your head for this paradox. Build as much space for it as you can.

Build even more space. 

You will need it. 

I don’t think I realized how uptight I’ve been about my lack of creative living lately; how much pressure I’ve been putting on my creation (or lack there of). I have to build more space for myself and that’s a major goal for this year.

The Last Book(s) I Bought: A Little Life & The Art of Memoir

Last weekend, while on a mission for doughnuts,¬†I stumbled into a nearby bookstore with my best friend and boyfriend. I haven’t been in an independent bookstore in a while,¬†so browsing the stacks and handwritten staff recommendations ended the way it usually does: with me walking out with new books. The two books I bought–one fiction, one non-fiction–are both at the top of my To-Read list.

The first was Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life, which was a Man Booker Prize Nominee in 2015. Clocking in at over 800 pages, the novel chronicles the lives of four college classmates–Jude, JB, Willem, and Malcolm–and the highs and lows of their lives. Particularly the lows. The novel touches on addiction, trauma, suffering, success, pride, and male friendship.

Ever since this book was released a year ago I knew I wanted to read it (and own a copy).¬†It’s well known that¬†A Little Life¬†is deeply depressing¬†and¬†unbelievably tragic– I mean, just look at the anguish on the cover.

It’s no secret that I am an extremely emotional person and I knew this book would level me, so I wanted to be ready. Last weekend I finally was. ¬†The combination of finding an absolutely adorable bookshop with my favorite people put me in the perfect mood to take¬†A Little Life¬†home with me.


The second book I bought was Mary Karr’s¬†The Art of Memoir. Known by many as the person who sparked the contemporary memoir craze, Karr has written three best-selling¬†memoirs: The Liars’ Club, Lit, and Cherry. I’ve never read any of her work but she was mentioned often in my creative writing classes. She is also a favorite among my favorites (particularly Cheryl Strayed).

I heard about Karr’s newest book from two podcasts I listen to: Fresh Air and Dear Sugar. I’ve always been a fan of ars poeticas where writer’s explore the ways they write along with where, when, and how. On the book jacket, it says that¬†The Art of Memoir¬†joins the ranks of Stephen King’s¬†On Writing¬†and Anne Lamott’s¬†Bird by Bird ¬†– two of my favorite writing-about-writing books. If it’s anything like those two books, I have a feeling I’ll be adding¬†The Art of Memoir¬†to my favorites shelf in no time.

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What was the last book(s) you bought? Were they fiction or nonfiction? Have you read A Little Life or The Art of Memoir? If yes, what did you think? If not, do you want to? Let me know in the comments