January 31, 2013

January Books

It's no secret, I've accumulated some books during the 6 months that I have lived here. I love books. I grew up surrounded by books. It's something that I remember clearly - books crammed in every shelf, every which way. It wasn't until I began teaching that I realized how lucky I was to grow up with books in my home. Books make a home. Books make my home. J'adore les livres.

This week's (Week 4), Artist Way task was to go one week without reading. (Record screech) Say what? Yes, you read correctly - my task is to go one week without reading. 

This week, a break from reading was tough, but it was a welcome change. Of course, I have correspondence to reply to, jobs to look and apply for, etc. And I allowed for this. To accommodate any work that I needed to stay on top of, I restricted myself to a limited amount of time on the internet. While I didn't count the time that I wrote emails, messages and blog posts, the most I spent reading information online has been about 90 minutes total since Sunday. Three times a day I checked emails and facebook messages only. Jon has been very helpful monitoring my reading deprivation, but I am weak! 

There have been moments when I peeked at facebook and instagram, but only for a second. I should have done without instagram, but I didn't. Maybe one day in the future, I can take an internet break for real - with NO facebook, NO email, NO blogging, etc. I acknowledge that's not where I am in life right now. But do I really need to check facebook, instagram or all of the blogs I read everyday? Every hour? My iPhone and iPad are my connections to my family and friends, but I think my attachment to my devices is beyond functional. It's an addiction. 

Anyway, I am pleased to report that I haven't read one book, one magazine article, watched television, listened to the news, or spent more than two minutes a day reading others status updates. (Sorry friends!) It's ironic though, this week I went to get my city library card. Yay me!

A few weeks ago, I tracked my time and noticed how much time I spent online. It's a terrible habit of mine, and makes me feel so bad about myself. I can waste time like no other. That's why this break has been welcome, and I have made great use of my time! I have been so productive, crossing things off my to do list, cleaning, being creative, and have gotten to bed much earlier all this week. I still have the rest of the week to go, but after Saturday I will be in Italy for one week, and my accommodations will be without internet access. Perhaps, I can go cold turkey after all? Ha! We'll see.

As January draws to a close, (I can't believe tomorrow is already February!) I'd like to write about a few books that I read and gathered this month. They are all wonderful, and will someday be on my shelf where ever our next home will be. 

I love the cover of the book. Don't you think it's beautiful? 
The first book that I read was My Berlin Kitchen: A Love Story (with Recipes) by Luisa Weiss. Luisa Weiss writes a successful blog called the Wednesday Chef. I had heard of her blog a while back, but had not really read it before I read her book. Her book is a memoir that chronicles her life growing up, and coming of age in two countries - America and Germany. She writes well about growing up in Berlin and Boston, going to school in Paris, spending summers in Italy, working and climbing the ladder in the publishing world in New York, falling in love, heartbreak, falling in love again, following her heart - moving to Berlin to write and live the life she's always wanted to live. I hope I didn't spoil it for you. ;) It's a good read, easy to read in that it reads like a blog. I enjoyed it, I would recommend it. I have started to follow Luisa's blog with a new enthusiasm for her posts, as they continue the story in real time. The recipes are inspiring, but nothing that I had to try right away. Though I did find myself pining for an oven and all of my kitchen appliances and kitchen ware carefully packed away in my mom's garage in Texas. 

The next book was an inspired purchase and read by my recent trip to Paris. The Paris Wife: A Novel, by Paula McLain is an excellent book. I could not put it down and read it in a few days between sight seeing and train rides. It's a fictional biography of Hadley Richardson, the first wife of Ernest Hemingway. I wasn't so sure about reading a fictional biography, but McLain researched her subject well and writes in a such personal voice. I felt like it was the words of Hadley that I was reading. The setting of the book takes place in the 1920s when Paris was the epicenter for art, writing, and music, bubbling with life, creativity and booze. Hadley and Ernest Hemingway enjoyed the joie de vivre with other notable ex-pats such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, Pablo Picasso and my favorite Gerald Murphy. This novel shares Hadley's story, from her youth in Missouri, to living in Paris - in love and in squalor with one of the most gifted, egomaniacal writers of our time. This is one of the best books I have read in a long while. I was sad when it ended, but I am enthused to read more of Hemingway as a result. 

Finally, Forever Paris: 25 Walks in the Footsteps of Chanel, Hemingway, Picasso and More by Christina Henry de Tessan. I found this little jewel of a book towards the end of my trip in Paris. I found it in the gift shop of the Carnavalet Museum, and bought it because it's so interesting and I know I will be going back soon.

Paris is an amazing city, an aspect that makes this city so special is that it was adored and experienced by so many influential people. It's amazing to think of the history that happened in the very streets that I explored. Amazing to think that I can shop where Picasso shopped, eat where Hemingway ate, drink where Toulouse-Lautrec drank. That's why I couldn't put this book down. It's a pocket size guide with a short bio of 25 famous inhabitants of Paris - from Napolean to Julia Child:
and the paths they might have traveled during their time in Paris.
It's such a cool concept, very interesting and very inspiring. You can tour the city in a different way: you can actually "walk" in the footsteps of your heros.
Dehillerin, where Julia Child used to shop. 
That's all for January. I had a few books that I had to put down for my reading pause, but I'll be back to share what I read next month.

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