I wanted to take some time this week to look at books read, books reading, and books to be read—and make a request for suggestions from you, the readers.
First of all, on retreat at St. Meinrad Archabbey last week I read for the third or fourth time Anne Fadiman's Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader. What a terrific little book of essays. After each one I hugged the book to me as I was so delighted with what I had read. Ms. Fadiman covers a lot of ground from former British Prime Minister William Gladstone's instructions on constructing the perfect library to her own collection of books on Arctic exploration to the mingling of her and her husband's vast libraries.
Lucky for me, my room in the guesthouse was right next to The Reading Room with its wooden library table and chairs surrounded by shelves of books. Some titles had a very religious slant—after all, I was staying at a monastery—but others promised a more spiritual flair. I searched to see if there was anything that struck my fancy and came across Sweeping Changes: Discovering the Joy of Zen in Everyday Tasks by Gary Thorp. Its gentle reminder: when you are sweeping, sweep...don't be pondering your next activity or your last one. In other words, stay in the moment with your dusting, folding, or mopping. Consider those tasks to be a form of meditation. It was a small book with simple illustrations at the head of each chapter. I knew I could finish it over my short stay and it proved to be a great choice, although I must admit housekeeping is not one of my strengths.
As sometimes happens, two books I had on reserve at the library came available at the same time and I am ready to settle down with both of them. The first is The House of Unexpected Sisters, Alexander McCall Smith's newest mystery featuring Precious Ramotswe and Grace Makutsi of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. Oh, how I love being in their world.
The second is A Secret Sisterhood: The Literary Friendships of Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot, and Virginia Woolf by Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire Sweeney. I am really anxious to dig into this one as I have read good things about it.
Photo credit: thekrystaldiaries.com
As winter is almost officially here—even though in Louisville we are still experiencing balmy temperatures—I plan to come up with a list of Cozy Books to have on hand. I am thinking more of favorite comfort books to reread that will hold the cold and dark at bay.
This is where I could use your help. Email me [bellebookandcandle(at)hotmail(dot)com] or leave a comment about what your Ideal Cozy Bookshelf would hold. I will put all our suggestions together in another post.
Thanks. Looking forward to reading about your choices!
Always love to reread Louisa M Alcott's Little Women, Little Men, Jo's Boys even though they aren't mysteries. If you haven't read them the following are some mystery series I've enjoyed: M.C. Beaton's Hamish MacBeth or Agatha Raisin series, Mary Daheim's Alpine Series (one book for each letter of the alphabet), Jeanne Dams Dorothy Martin and also her Hilda Johansson series, Diane Mott's Goldy Bear Schultz caterer series, Jo Dereske's Miss Zukas series,...I could go on and on. Will be interesting to see what others suggest.ReplyDelete
Hi, Joyce. Certainly Little Women! It even begins on Christmas Eve. A perfect suggestion.Delete
Thanks also for the mystery suggestions...many I am not familiar with. Those will be good any time of year.
I'll put some thought into my Cozy Shelf and get back to you. I look forward to seeing what others have to say!ReplyDelete
I'm not familiar with all of the series Joyce mentions, but I do like the Goldy Bear Schulz caterer series.
Thanks, Kathy. I am sure you have one or two books that you would like to revisit during the winter months...ones that at least would let you read about snow!Delete
I wasn't really looking for cozy mysteries but am always glad to get suggestions for those.
I seem to have taken your "cozy" to mean "comfort" when thinking about books for this list. I can't think of any books that I read to "visit" snow, unless you count the Anne of Green Gables series. Since they're set on PEI, there are plenty of snowy pleasures to be found in these books.Delete
Kathy, I was happy to see that there were all sorts of suggestions made from cozy mysteries to Christmas poetry. I didn't have 'snow' particularly in mind but better to read about it than have to drive in it! Anne of GG is a perfect choice. I was looking for favorite rereads, so Anne surely fits.Delete
Some of my favorite comfort reads range from the novels of Rosamunde Pilcher to Laura Ingalls Wilder with a smattering of Jane Austen and my two favorite Mary Stewart books. Turns out I can read those authors over and over again and never get tired of them. :)ReplyDelete
Thanks, Lark. I suppose the Little House book 'The Long Winter' would be perfect. I see Ms. Pilcher has a book 'Winter Solstice' that looks promising. And what are your two favorite Mary Stewart books?Delete
Thanks for your suggestions. Always good to hear from you.
My favorite Mary Stewart books are Nine Coaches Waiting and Thornyhold. (And Winter Solstice is a great read!) :)Delete
Thanks, Lark. I remember reading Nine Coaches Waiting when I was in high school...this will give me a chance to revisit it! I don't know anything about Thornyhold but I sure do like the name. Sounds ominous!Delete
I trust you are well!!
I was delighted to see you have read and enjoyed “Ex Libris” as I too have many times. No doubt you have devoured her other book of essays, ”At Large” which your readers should also seek out. I first came across the name “Fadiman” many decades ago in the dusty book section of a charity shop with a number of excellent anthologies selected and edited by Clifton Fadiman (Anne’s father) together with Mort Adler and Charles Van Doren. “The apple does not fall too far from the tree”
Hello there, Tullik. Lovely to hear from you! Yes, I am quite a fan of Anne Fadiman and hold dear both books of essays: Ex Libris and At Large and At Small. I actually took both of them on retreat with me.Delete
I once had an ancient hardcover copy of Clifton Fadiman's Lifetime Reading Plan copyright 1960 with a gold cover. I lent it to someone and, alas, never got it back. I was lucky enough to find a replacement, but it has some markings in it which of course I would never have made in my copy!
Anyway, I have much respect for both father and daughter.
"At Small"...em..didn't know of that one...thanks for that Belle!!ReplyDelete
Sorry for the confusion...her second book of essays is titled "At Large and At Small". That's what I get for not using quotation marks!Delete
I enjoyed reading other commenters' suggestions and here are a few of my own Cozy Books: all of the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder with an almost yearly re-read of The Long Winter after a substantial snowfall hereabout. Little Woman, which I plan to re-read before this spring's Masterpiece production airs. 84 Chairing Cross Road by Helene Hanff. Agatha Raisin and, of course, Agatha Christie's books as well.ReplyDelete
Hi, Penny. Little Women and Little House seem to be on everyone's list! And for good reason. Oh, and of course 84 CCR. I really must get back to Agatha Raisin. I read a bunch in the series and then moved on to something else. Not sure where I left off...probably doesn't matter.Delete
I've received a few suggestions via email so I will put them with those noted here into one Cozy List. Stay tuned.