Thursday, April 17, 2008

3 Books And A Blog

There are three books that I have been wanting to write about but have been daunted by the prospect of finding the time to sit down and write three different blog posts. Well, haha! Enter lightbulb moment, something along the lines of "just put all three in one post you big dummy". So, please settle in for a little chit chat about 3 completely unrelated but totally fabulous books...

First up, Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. Before buying this book I did my usual amazon comments research, and opinions ranged from best book ever written to completely droll and boring. What really pushed me towards reading this bohemoth (it's 846 pages and not large type) was the fact that it has won so many literary awards and yet I had somehow never heard of it. Well, I finished it last night and that was because I completely forced myself to. Not because I had to force my way through it, but because I absolutely did not want it to end! After 846 pages I was totally not ready for her to wrap it up! If you found this book dull, I feel so sorry for you. What isn't to love about dry British humor, magicians, and totally nefarious, deliciously wicked fairies? So much fun, so hoping for a sequel where Arabella gets some kickass revenge.

Next up, the lovely and very popular new release by Amanda Soule, The Creative Family. I have been reading her blog, Soule Mama, all winter and I look forward to her posts everyday. They are always beautiful and inspiring, and so is her book. It has a lot of fun ideas for activities to do with children, but mostly it is about really connecting with your kids and family through creative projects, and how to incorporate small connections into your everyday life. I highly recommend the book and her blog (and when Soule Papa takes over and writes an occasional guest post, watch out, he can take your breath away). We recently picked up a how to draw birds book at the library after being inspired by Amanda and the drawings that the girls have done have been so darn entertaining! The book really makes you think about things you can do to expand on interests your children already have.

The third book is not a new release, it is one I have had for many years and is my absolute favorite gardening book, A Way to Garden by Margaret Roach. Margaret started out as the Gardening Editor at Martha Stewart Living magazine and has since moved up to Editorial Director. I think she has a major talent for seeming really "down to earth" and she obviously has a very deep love for everything that grows. This certainly comes across in her book, which has suggestions for things to grow but is really just a gorgeous look at nature and the cycles of the garden. She describes it best in her own words:

"You will not find chapters on spring, summer, fall and winter here, or any named for the calendar months, either... I imagine that the garden's year is roughly parallel to the six seasons of life, from conception through birth and on to youth, adulthood, senescence, and death/afterlife. For people moving from phase to phase takes years (if all goes well) and there is only one guaranteed chance at each; in the garden, the life cycle is packed into a single year, and then the next, over and over, even long after the gardener is gone... The medium is alive and always changing and, no, you are never really in charge for a second, no matter how straight your rows or how sturdy your stakes. Something larger is always at work, something no mere gardener can control."

This is the book I pull out every year at the end of winter and that constantly inspires me in my outside endeavors. It is no longer in print, but it is really pretty easy to find used (there are several copies for sale on Amazon). However, the main reason I mention it is because (squeal!) Margaret has just recently started a blog: A Way to Garden. And it is really not a I-am-the-hotshot-editor-of-Martha-Stewart-Living kind of blog, it's just Margaret talking about what she knows best. It was such a treat to find that I just had to share.


Margaret said...

A "squeal" on this end of the digital connection, too: Thanks for mentioning my blog on yours. I am so glad you continue to enjoy the book, and now its new incarnation (and mine). I am happy to be back to my real love...gardening (and communicating about it).

Stephanie said...

Thank you so much for posting about these books. I live in an apartment now and dream of having a garden someday (I hope in the near future!).