Over the past few months, I've rekindled a love affair with a very favorite old pastime - reading. It's been so long since I spent my days nose-deep in a delicious fiction about someone quirky from another time, doing something wonderful or scandalous or noble. It's just the best. I've started making more time for things that I love and reading is one of those decadent indulgences. As a child I used to cuddle up with Nancy Drew and all the Judy Blumes, sit on top of the heating vent on my living room floor and pull my nightshirt over my knees, keeping all the warmth close to my body while I voraciously turned the pages. It's so funny to think about that now, because when I look at a heating vent that's what I remember - that little girl with an insatiable appetite for the alternative world of The Neverending Story, Where the Red Fern Grows and let's be honest, The Babysitters Club. I was hungry for a good story, and it's interesting to see how that desire has evolved as I've gotten older, through songwriting (and writing here!) and acting and of course, reading again! It's been a wonderful season, picking up books that I bought years ago and neglected to read, dusting them off a bit and breaking back the binding. Books are meant to be read! And read I shall! I've just finished The Age of Innocence and started Sense and Sensibility, so I'm kicking it old-school right now and loving it.
A few old (and new!) loves of mine, that I would heartily recommend to anyone looking for a summer read:
I Feel Bad About My Neck - Nora Ephron
How did Nora Ephron manage to voice every thought in the mind of every woman on Earth? She was more than a gifted writer, she was a gifted human with a heartbreaking, warm, appalling and hilarious voice. You might not think you know who she is, but you do. She was a brilliant screenwriter, penning the infamous lines from When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, You Got Mail, Julie and Julia and this particular book is a wonderful compilation of essays from her life - all written in that familiar voice of hers. I loved reading this and relating to the major and minor life crises that she went through - moving from the Upper West to the Upper East side (gasp!), interning for President Kennedy, and of course, feeling bad about her aging neck. Read it. I pledge that you will love it.
East of Eden - John Steinbeck
I wished I was a part of a book club while I was reading this one, because I wanted to have conversations about the meaning of this epic generational tale. Alas, there was no one to really discuss it with, and since it's such a heavy book, it's not really the kind of thing you can bring up around people. Also, Steinbeck tends to be kind of intimidating because he was kind of a genius, so that just adds another layer of, "what did he mean?!" when he wrote certain chapters certain ways. He was a total genius. This book is super thought-provoking and not necessarily feel-good, but it makes you feel a lot of feels. It's one of my absolute favorites! If there were ever a time for a big read, summer is it.
The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde
I know I sound like a dork, reading all the classics, but seriously - this book is the most elegant commentary I've ever read about narcissism and vanity. It's hilarious, chilling and salaciously smart. Everything by Oscar Wilde makes me giggle, but this one reeeeeally makes you think. He knows how to turn an argument right on its head. And that's why pretty much everyone hated him when this particular work was published.
The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho
Ah, I love this one because the story tackles self-discovery and following one's dreams - especially when they seem impossible. Perhaps you've read a lot of books like that before, but this one is different. Perhaps because this particular story tells it much more interestingly and exotically than most. And in a different time period and curious part of the world and it just makes the whole story so mysterious and alluring. I love this one.
Blog, Inc. - Joy Deangdeelert
I received this as a book when I lived in Boston, and it has been one of the most inspiring and helpful guides as I continue to evolve in this strange and wonderful venture called blogging. This is the kind of book that I continue to pick up, year after year, reading different passages and finding new inspiration every single time. Reading the same words but feeling a fresh sense of enlightenment. I love that it's peppered with stories about other creative souls who have found a passion for blogging along their journey of starting businesses, families, non-profits and careers in creative fields. And I also love it's sister book, Creative, Inc. which addresses creatives at large - full of business tips, practical guides and stories. If you're a creative person, this books will become much like your business bible :)
And a few honorable mentions, because these are totally worth the tears and/or laughter (and also because I can't edit and just leave these off the list) - Bossypants by Tina Fey, The Help by Kathryn Stockett and The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. All are fabulous reads.
What are you reading right now, friends? Any summer books you can recommend? Please share in the comments! I need to add to my stack of "must-devour" books :)