Sunday, October 31, 2021

Books: The Once and Future Witches

Alix E. Harrow's The Once and Future Witches was the October selection for my book club. It's not a book I would have picked up on my own, and that's the point of our book club, to get readers out of their book comfort zones. At book club I gave this book a three-star rating, but now, two weeks later, I would give it four stars. The Once and Future Witches has had some significant lasting power for me. I keep thinking about it, and isn't that a sign of a good book? My initial rating had more to do with the fact that I had to force myself to keep picking up this monster of a book. I wasn't deeply engaged. There certainly were aspects I liked, which came up in book club: great characterization, the inclusion of folklore/fables, female bonding. I particularly liked (okay, loved) the idea of not drawing your circle too small. And these layers of the work are what keep lingering -- overshadowing my apparent resistance while making my way through this 513-page novel. But, giving myself the benefit of the doubt, this novel seems to just move along linearly for the first 350 pages, and then, wow, after that the good stuff happens. The Once and Future Witches starts dazzling. All Holy Hell breaks loose, and it is fun to watch. 

So I take back some of what I said at book club. I appreciate the work that went into this huge novel, specifically the development of so many characters and the many directions/intricacies of the plot. Sure, I was ready to move on from this one, but I'm glad I was there for it all. 

Here are two of my favorite quotes from the novel:

"It occurs to Beatrice for the first time that there's a certain power in being nothing." (Took me back to my Feminist Studies days analyzing the power in silence.)

"Distantly it occurs to her that men like Gideon ought to stop breaking people, because sometimes they mend twice as strong." (Yes, yes.)

It's fun to read books with a seasonal feel to them. I have loved all the social media posts on wicked books this month. Sure, it might be awhile before I get back around to this theme, but I most certainly will be making my way back. 

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Grab A Book and... Just Enjoy


Books I Have Read Recently

Oh, hello there, book friends, it's been a spell, hasn't it?

When I started this blog a couple of years ago, I had plans to write tons of reviews. But clearly that didn't happen. Why? I don't really know. Perhaps because once I finish reading one book, I am eager to jump right into another because like most of you I have piles and piles of books to be read. Aren't we all eyeing the next read before finishing the one in hand? 

I also now have realized I don't really want to write reviews. Once I finish a book, I love for it to linger in my thoughts for a bit, but I don't want to then write a book report. That just feels like work. There are tons and tons of reviews out there already... Goodreads, BookPage, Amazon, etc. I don't think my opinion about a book is going to be any different from what thousands of other readers have noted. And, frankly, I have begun to avoid reading reviews because too many give too much away. 

Instead, I realize I just want to share my journey, my thoughts, my motivations. I want to tell stories about the stories. Such as how I bumped into a particular book, what my book clubs are up to, how I feel about current publishing trends. I want to tell you about the books I find in a Little Free Library or at Goodwill, the books stacked on my nightstand, the book paraphernalia I can't resist, my book buying addiction, and my book purging struggles. 

I just want to grab a book and enjoy it -- and along the way share the joy. 

Ah, yes, that is what I want to do here at A Well-Lighted Place. Welcome. 

Friday, July 5, 2019

Books: The Woman I Wanted To Be

I stumbled across Diane von Furstenberg's memoir The Woman I Wanted To Be when I was wondering who said the best relationship one can have is with the self, and this has really been a wonderful read. Throughout this whole book, Diane von Furstenberg reinforces the concept of health as beauty. Her book is filled with positive messages for women -- about health, true beauty, aging gracefully, letting go, being present. 

For example, she writes, "Youth is wonderful: it's exciting because it is the beginning of life. Everything is ahead and there is nothing more thrilling than beginnings when everything is possible and you can dream big dreams. But every day is a beginning. Living and enjoying the present moment to the fullest is the best way, the only way to approach life. It is essential to learn from the past and look into the future without resentment, resentments are toxic and can only pollute the future."

She covers a lot of territory in this memoir, writing about her parents,  her childhood, her marriages and children, the building of her empire (the successes and the failures), her friendships, and so much more. She even includes details about her yoga and meditation practice and how she was introduced to ayurveda after being diagnosed with cancer. 

One of the stories I love most is the one where she describes being on a plane on a runway in Gander, Newfoundland, with complete rainbows on each side of the plane. Newfoundland is my homeland. ❤ Her plane had stopped in Gander to refuel on a trip back to the States from Belgium. At the sight of the rainbows, her daughter told her she needed to make a wish. It was on that runway in Newfoundland where she made a wish to be cured of her cancer. And she was. 

"Confronting my cancer was challenging, but enriching. I became more compassionate toward the sufferings of others, appreciated the value of health, became more spiritual and understood both my fragility and my strength. I have been thankful ever since to God, the doctors, my family, my friends, and my own power," Furstenberg writes. 

She describes how she became much more health conscious after the cancer diagnosis by eating fresh, organic fruits and vegetables, grains and beans, little meat, and cutting back on sugar as much as she could. She also focused on getting more physical exercise and describes hiking and swimming as forms of meditation for her. She also practiced yoga consistently. 

"The stretching and the twists make me aware of every part of my body and I practice the long inhale and the slow exhale to ease stressful moments," she explains. 

And that quote that I had been searching for? It is here in The Woman I Wanted To Be:

"Love is about relationships, yet the most important relationship is the one you have with yourself. Who else is with you at all times? Who else feels the pain when you are hurt? The shame when you are humiliated? Who can smile at your small satisfactions and laugh at your victories but you? Who understands your moments of fear and loneliness better? Who can console you better than you? You are the one who possesses the keys to your being. You carry the passport to your happiness."

And that motto Love is Life is Love is Life? Yeah, that's DVF as well. 

There's lots of good stuff to digest here, my friends.