January 21, 2016

Lesson 227: 2015 Book List

It's time for a post on my 2015 reading! If you've read any of these posts in the past, you know there is not great forethought put into my selections. Books find their way into my hands through effective library displays and Mark's discerning eye. This year was no different, and so I found myself reading a lot of World War stories, a lot of Southern fiction, and a whole lot of decorating books! Even still, looking over the list, I had a some bright spots, so allow me a few comments.

First and foremost, 2015 will go down as the year that I read the Maisie Dobbs series. A random pick in January opened me up to a story of a woman, an investigator and psychologist, that I ended up following for the duration of the year. Maisie's stories are set fifteen years after WWI and have to do with the various effects of the war on society years later, as well as the ways the first world war planted seeds for the second. To be honest, even though I read the entire series and am looking forward to the newest one coming out in March, I am not sure I would recommend this to everyone. I was drawn to Maisie, partially because she is a methodical worker. She dresses carefully, eats warm soup and crusty bread for dinner, and ends her evenings by the fire with a cup of tea and her thoughts. There's a part of me that thinks I was so drawn to Maisie's character because of her discipline and simplicity in the midst of a chaotic career. Sounds familiar ... a longing for order in the midst of crazy! Try her, or don't. You may love her, or you may find her a bit boring. On my end, I am sad that my year with Maisie is over.

Another set of books I'd like to highlight are what I'll call the "Balance Books" of my year. I don't think I sought this type of book on purpose, but I'm sure I found the recommendations from blogs I regularly read, and well, turns out I read a lot about balance. My favorite of the set was The Nesting Place by Myquillyn Smith. In the midst of books and blogs encouraging women to create perfect, showpiece homes, this book enters in with reality and rest. She encourages readers to consider seriously the function and goals of a home, not a house. She never downplays the importance of beauty within the home, but she just injects sanity to the pursuit of it. It was quick read and offered needed perspective. Stacey London, star of What Not to Wear, does something similar in her book, The Truth About Style. Y'all, I loved it! She recognizes that clothes cannot save us, but that psychologically they can help move people in positive directions. Again, short and sweet. And finally, Shauna Niequist covers hospitality and cooking in her book, Bread and Wine. This one is more short stories with complementary recipes, and I did not read it in one sitting, but over a few months. She speaks of opening your home to nourish bodies and souls, not to impress. I'm not 100% sold on all her theologizing, but her main point is refreshing. The theme of these types of books is a powerful one. There is nothing wrong with desiring to have a nice home, look your best, and serve people with care, but perfectionism will kill you.

A few more thoughts. Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari was an intriguing look at the ways people are entering into and functioning in relationships these days, though I found it a bit redundant and not as funny as expected. My Life in Paris by Julia Child was inspiring and made me want to simultaneously travel, cook, and eat. Finally, if you have know idea what to do with your life, I highly recommend Just Do Something by Kevin DeYoung. That guy shoots straight!

Now, onto the list. Feel free to comment with titles you think I should check out in this new year.

Happy Reading, y'all!

January:

* Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George

* Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear


February:

* Palmetto Moon by Kim Boykin

* The New Rules of Real Estate by Spencer Rascoff and Stan Humphries


March:

* The Unfortunate Importance of Beauty by Amanda Filipacchi

* My Life in Paris by Julia Child

* Dollbaby: A Novel by Laura Lane McNeal


April:

* The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

* Birds of a Feather by Jacqueline Winspear

* Charleston by Margaret Bradham Thornton

* The Girl on Legare Street by Karen White

* Pardonable Lies by Jacqueline Winspear


May:

* Operation Mincemeat by Ben Macintyre

* Messenger of Truth by Jacqueline Winspear

* An Incomplete Revenge by Jacqueline Winspear

* Among the Mad by Jacqueline Winspear

* Fall of the Giants by Ken Follett


June:

* Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God's Will by Kevin DeYoung

* The Truth About Style by Stacy London

* The Strangers on Montagu Street by Karen White

* Yes Please by Amy Poehler

* The Mapping of Life and Death by Jacqueline Winspear


July:

* A Lesson in Secrets by Jacqueline Winspear

* Overdressed: The Surprisingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth L. Cline


August:

* Nursery Style: Creating Beautiful Rooms for Children by Annie Sloan and Felicity Bryan

* Domino: The Book of Decorating by Deborah Needleman, Sara Ruffin Costello and Dara Caponigro

* Home Rules by Nate Berkus

* Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table by Shauna Niequist

* The Things That Matter by Nate Berkus

* The Nesting Place by Myquillyn Smith

* Aunt Dimity's Death by Nancy Atherton

* Elements of Style: Designing A Home & A Life by Erin Gates


September:

* Elegy for Eddie by Jacqueline Winspear


October:

* Aunt Dimity and the Duke by Nancy Atherton


November:

* Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari

* The Speechwriter: A Brief Education in Politics by Barton Swaim


December:

* Leaving Everything Most Loved by Jacqueline Winspear

* Absolutely Beautiful Things by Anna Spiro

* A Dangerous Place by Jacqueline Winspear


December 11, 2015

Lesson 226: Christmas in the Pretty Room

... because I'm sitting here enjoying this room, and it just looks s'darn pretty.

The last time I showed y'all this room it looked like this. Things have changed ... and will continue to. Not because I'm discontent, but because WOAH, I might be falling in love with seasonal decorating!

I realized as I was writing this post, I have never showed you the finished renovation pictures. Perhaps with the holidays around the corner, I'll have a chance to snap a few photos for you.

Then again, holidays = kids at home = messy photos, so maybe not.

We'll see.

For now, enjoy the peace and quiet of this one clean room.









In terms of sourcing, I'm currently loving Mary Jo Major, Lulie Wallace, and this coffee table book!

Also, I search far and wide for the best pillows on the market, but mm mmm, I still come home to Pottery Barn at Christmas time. (Feeling slightly sheepish and guilty about this ... )

Happy Friday, friends!

Lesson Learned: When a room has pretty bones, Christmas fits in ... beautifully.




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