Grace here, finally home and settled after finals and a bad bout of the stomach flu (read: me catching the bug about five minutes before boarding a flight home. Brutal.) Regardless, now I’m just getting over the exhaustion and deciding how best to spend the roughly two and a half weeks until I get back to school.
Recently, I’ve had some books swimming around in my head — but I never get books for Christmas. Most of my family shies away from getting me books because they know I’ll buy them for myself, and/or I’m picky about which ones to get. Realistically, getting me a book is probably not the best idea. Still, I’ve compiled a few wishlist reads I’ve been dying to get my hands on, or will try to hunt down during my winter break.
Novel: Useless Magic by Florence Welch | Goodreads
Release Date: July 5, 2018
Publisher: Fig Tree (PRH)
Lyrics and never-before-seen poetry and sketches from the iconic vocalist of Florence and the Machine
Songs can be incredibly prophetic, like subconscious warnings or messages to myself, but I often don’t know what I’m trying to say till years later. Or a prediction comes true and I couldn’t do anything to stop it, so it seems like a kind of useless magic.
This is a hard book for me to justify buying, because I know that flipping through it won’t be more than a 30-minute experience. The problem is that I love Florence + the Machine and am completely fascinated by how otherworldly Florence Welch is as a person. It’s an aesthetic volume, with images and fragments and poetry — so up my alley. I often complain about how I’d read more biographies if they were of modern musicians, because magazine segments just don’t cut it for me, but I think their stories and inspiration are so interesting. In any case, this has been a coffee table book that I hardcore covet. I told myself in August that if I was still thinking about it a month later, I’d buy it — but I haven’t quite gotten around to it yet.
Novel: Figuring by Maria Popova | Goodreads
Release Date: February 5, 2019
Publisher: Pantheon Books
Figuring explores the complexities of love and the human search for truth and meaning through the interconnected lives of several historical figures across four centuries–beginning with the astronomer Johannes Kepler, who discovered the laws of planetary motion, and ending with the marine biologist and author Rachel Carson, who catalyzed the environmental movement.
Stretching between these figures is a cast of artists, writers, and scientists–mostly women, mostly queer–whose public contribution has risen out of their unclassifiable and often heartbreaking private relationships to change the way we understand, experience, and appreciate the universe. Among them are the astronomer Maria Mitchell, who paved the way for women in science; the sculptor Harriet Hosmer, who did the same in art; the journalist and literary critic Margaret Fuller, who sparked the feminist movement; and the poet Emily Dickinson.
Emanating from these lives are larger questions about the measure of a good life and what it means to leave a lasting mark of betterment on an imperfect world: Are achievement and acclaim enough for happiness? Is genius? Is love? Weaving through the narrative is a set of peripheral figures–Ralph Waldo Emerson, Charles Darwin, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Herman Melville, Frederick Douglass, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Walt Whitman–and a tapestry of themes spanning music, feminism, the history of science, the rise and decline of religion, and how the intersection of astronomy, poetry, and Transcendentalist philosophy fomented the environmental movement.
This is my dream book. Maria Popova is my queen. If you haven’t heard me gush about Brain Pickings, you haven’t been around the blog for long enough. Somehow, she always curates exactly what gets to me — framed under the phrase “an inventory of the meaningful life.” All her pieces on scientists, novelists, and other important figures and concepts contribute to the narrative of what it means to be human, and are strikingly poignant. At school, I’m much less existentialist than I used to be, because my world is a little smaller. Having one volume that gets to the heart of it makes my heart beat faster! No matter what happens, I’ll be dropping everything and reading on February 5. I’ve been trying to persuade somebody in my family to gift me a preorder but a book is “too predictable.”
A Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine Book Club Pick
“Get ready to be swept up in a whirlwind romance. It absolutely charmed me.” —Reese Witherspoon
“Josie Silver writes with a warmth so palpable her characters sneak their way into your heart and stay for a long time.”—Jill Santopolo, New York Times-bestselling author of The Light We Lost
Two people. Ten chances. One unforgettable love story.
Laurie is pretty sure love at first sight doesn’t exist anywhere but the movies. But then, through a misted-up bus window one snowy December day, she sees a man who she knows instantly is the one. Their eyes meet, there’s a moment of pure magic…and then her bus drives away.
Certain they’re fated to find each other again, Laurie spends a year scanning every bus stop and cafe in London for him. But she doesn’t find him, not when it matters anyway. Instead they “reunite” at a Christmas party, when her best friend Sarah giddily introduces her new boyfriend to Laurie. It’s Jack, the man from the bus. It would be.
What follows for Laurie, Sarah and Jack is ten years of friendship, heartbreak, missed opportunities, roads not taken, and destinies reconsidered. One Day in December is a joyous, heartwarming and immensely moving love story to escape into and a reminder that fate takes inexplicable turns along the route to happiness.
I’ve gotten a lot better about reading hyped up books lately. I came to the conclusion that hyped books are usually hyped for a reason (with the exception of The Little Paris Bookshop, which I hated.) And I’m a fiercely seasonal person, always hunting for something that fits the holiday. Recently, a lot of the bookstagrammers I follow have posted about One Day in December, praising it in ways that have seemed genuine. I could use a good “whirlwind romance” book, especially one that gets me in the mood for Christmas. Also, I’m a sucker for a good missed-connections trope.
I’m cheating on this pick, because I succumbed at Barnes & Noble two days ago. My mom dragged me out of the house after the stomach flu by shamelessly bribing me with a new book. I’m only on about page five, but I’ll likely post a review when I’m done!