You probably already know I am a book fanatic. I often buy books faster than I can read them, and I’m constantly considering all the books I’ll never have time to read in this lifetime. My bookshelves are systematically organized, and I have a borrowing system in place. My adoration of books often leads me to the situation I’m in right now…I’m reading a couple at the same time. I usually have two reads on hand, one fiction and one non-fiction, but right now I have four! Let’s be clear, I’m not even a fast reader! My goal is to get down to two by the end of the weekend…
The Light of the World, by Elizabeth Alexander
“In THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD, Elizabeth Alexander finds herself at an existential crossroads after the sudden death of her husband. Channeling her poetic sensibilities into a rich, lucid price, Alexander tells a love story that is, itself, a story of loss. As she reflects on the beauty of her married life, the trauma resulting from her husband’s death, and the solace found in caring for her two teenage sons, Alexander universalizes a very personal quest for meaning and acceptance in the wake of loss.
THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD is at once an endlessly compelling memoir and a deeply felt meditation on the blessings of love, family, art, and community. It is also a lyrical celebration of a life well-lived and a paean to the priceless gift of human companionship. For those who have loved and lost, or for anyone who cares what matters most, THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD is required reading.”
Books come to me in all different ways. Sometimes I stumble across a gem in a bookstore because I liked the cover, other times I aggregate lists of things that seem interesting online before picking one. I’ve even been guilty of rummaging through goodwill shelves for something new and unexpected. This book came to me in an unexpected way. I found this memoir when researching the author, Elizabeth Alexander. She is a poet, author, mother, and among many other things, she is the newly-named the President of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in New York City. In the daylight hours, when I’m not writing a blog or playing with my dogs or practicing yoga, I work in Foundation Relations for a major University, and the A.W. Mellon Foundation is a big part of our world. When they named the new president, I began to research. When I found her author’s page on Amazon, this book drew me in right away.
I’m about halfway through the book right now, and I won’t ruin anything in the story for you because it really is a book everyone should read. I’m learning about different cultures, art, grief, humanity, but most of all I am learning about love. The way she and her husband were together before he died, and the way she speaks about him now, remind me with each page how precious life is and how beautiful love can be.
Shadow of Night (All Souls Trilogy #2), by Deborah Harkness
“J. K. Rowling, Stephenie Meyer, Anne Rice—only a few writers capture the imagination the way that Deborah Harkness has with her New York Times–bestselling All Souls trilogy. A Discovery of Witches introduces reluctant witch Diana Bishop, vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont, and the battle for a lost, enchanted manuscript known as Ashmole 782.
Picking up from A Discovery of Witches’ cliffhanger ending, Shadow of Night takes Diana and Matthew on a trip through time to Elizabethan London, where they are plunged into a world of spies, magic, and a coterie of Matthew’s old friends, the School of Night. As the search for Ashmole 782 deepens and Diana seeks out a witch to tutor her in magic, the net of Matthew’s past tightens around them, and they embark on a very different—and vastly more dangerous—journey.”
I’ve been talking about these books since they were recommended to me by a friend in early September, and if you haven’t checked them out yet…now is the time. I’ve always appreciated a little whim and wonder in my fiction, and these witchy stories are seriously perfect in tone and detail. The first book sucked me in from the first page, and by the end I was staying up into the wee hours of the morning whispering one more chapter to myself. I took no time before picking up the second book, eager to continue along the tale of these incredible characters. There is a natural rhythm that will carry you through the books that is often hard to manage in a series. Stand alone novels each have their own story arch, but a series or in this case a trilogy must have an overall rhythm as well as a rhythm within each binding. I believe Deborah Harkness has done this beautifully in these stories, and I’m excited to continue working my way through them.
Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert
“Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration and empowerment from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Now this beloved author digs deep into her own generative process to share her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity. With profound empathy and radiant generosity, she offers potent insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives. Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us. Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work, embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy.”
Admittedly, this is the book I’ve let linger the longest, but I have a good reason. This book is AMAZING when you’re seeking inspiration, motivation, and reminders of our humanity amidst creative frustration. I’ve read most of it, but then it got put down and I haven’t come back to it for a few months. In this book, Liz Gilbert gives her readers a beautiful and honest perspective of being a writer. She shares her journey to successful (and sometimes not so successful) writing, and reminded me that I don’t have to quit my job and suffer in agony in order to “be a writer.” Her words in this book are part of what got me back up and moving on the blog again, when I’d spent nearly a year ignoring this space of my life. If you do creative work, or want to be doing more creative work, Big Magic may be a perfect inspiration for you, too!
Samhain: Rituals, Recipes & Lore for Halloween, by Diana Rajchel
“A well-rounded introduction to Samhain, this attractive book features rituals, recipes, lore, and correspondences. It includes hands-on information for modern celebrations, spells and divination, recipes and crafts, invocations and prayers, and more!
Samhain—also known as Halloween—is the final spoke in the wheel of the year. At this time, the harvest has finished and the veil between the worlds is at its thinnest. This guide shows you how to practice the serious work of divination and honoring the dead along with the more light-hearted activities of Halloween.”
I bought this book after a dear friend invited me to gather for a Samhain Sisterhood Circle (tonight, actually!), and the dork inside me required reading material to prepare! I’ve always loved to research and learn, and this little book is a great tool. I’ve learned the history of Samhain and how it became the Halloween we know today. After learning so much from this little book, I’m already eyeing the edition on Yule!
So that is what I’m reading today! Are you reading anything you just can’t wait to share? Leave it in the comments below and I’ll check it out!