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Tiny Beautiful Things
After a pizza induced book buying fest at WORD a few weeks back I wound up with a copy of Cheryl Strayed’s Tiny Beautiful Things. I’ve since read it twice and seem to find ways to bring it up in nearly every conversation I have.
It’s not a perfect thing. I wouldn’t read it in a few gulps but rather bursts - before you go to sleep, the waiting room, and when the Q rolls over the bridge.
I loved it. I loved it from the forward when Steve Almond describes the internet as a place where we “shine our buttons in public” and explains what he means when he says, “radical empathy.”
And most of all I loved these parts:
Your assumptions about the lives of others are in direct relation to your naïve pomposity. Many people you believe to be rich are not rich. Many people you think have it easy worked hard for what they got. Many people who seem to be gliding right along have suffered and are suffering. Many people who appear to you to be old and stupidly saddled down with kids and cars and houses were once every bit as hip and pompous as you.
When you meet a man in the doorway of a Mexican restaurant who later kisses you while explaining that this kiss doesn’t ‘mean anything’ because, much as he likes you, he is not interested in having a relationship with you or anyone right now, just laugh and kiss him back. Your daughter will have his sense of humor. Your son will have his eyes.
One Christmas at the very beginning of your twenties when your mother gives you a warm coat that she saved for months to buy, don’t look at her skeptically after she tells you she thought the coat was perfect for you. Don’t hold it up and say it’s longer than you like your coats to be and too puffy and possibly even too warm. Your mother will be dead by spring. That coat will be the last gift she gave you. You will regret the small thing you didn’t say for the rest of your life.
Say thank you.
- Dear Sugar #64
WTF, WTF, WTF? I’m asking this question as it applies to everything every day.
Ask better questions, sweet pea. The fuck is your life. Answer it.
I am not a religious person. I don’t meditate or chant or pray. But lines from poems I love run through my head and they feel holy to me in a way. There’s a poem by Adrienne Rich I first read twenty years ago called “Splittings” that I thought of when I read your letter. The last two lines of the poem are: “I choose to love this time for once / with all my intelligence.” It seemed such a radical thought when I first read those lines when I was twenty-two—that love could rise from our deepest, most reasoned intentions rather than our strongest shadowy doubts. The number of times I choose to love this time for once with all my intelligence has run through my head in the past twenty years cannot be counted. There hasn’t been a day when those lines weren’t present for me in ways both conscious and unconscious. You could say I’m devoted to them, even in times when I’ve failed profoundly to live up to their aspirations.
“I can get overwhelmed with emotions. I had always been embarrassed by those traits but it’s also what fueled my writing. And the more that I came to understand that, most of my heroes who are novelists like Hemingway or Kurt Vonnegut, these are people who know the wild ups and downs. These are quirky people. These are people who are not mainstream. That was a revelation to me.”
-Matthew Quick, author of The Silver Linings Playbook
Wooooo! Go, Matthew Quick, go!
So excited to have NOVL, a new site from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, headlining the Tumblr books spotlight today! It’s a great place for all your bookish fandoms, and I love how it incorporates music, movies, comics, humor, fashion, gifs, nail art, etc. If I were you, I’d follow this biz like it was made of yellow bricks.
(If you or someone you love is interested in Tumblr sponsorships, you know who to calll…)
If you happened to be a reader who is fond of books of YA variety please follow along.
“Anyone who ever said they got laid reading an e-book is lying. It is physically impossible to look cool in the coffee line holding a Tablet. You just can’t do it! But if you’ve got a thin volume of Baudelaire poems, say, or a Murakami novel, look out! That rolodex you bought at Goodwill is gonna fill up in a hurry, bro! You know why? Because books are social currency, always have been. Books will always be cool. Even if most people don’t read them. As long as they buy them, the rest of us will be okay.”
From The Argument for Books, by Jonathan Evison
Image via Kate Spade New York
- Embryo Concepts, from Funny Face
- Monsieur Labisse’s bookshop, from Hugo
- Brightman’s Attic, from The Brooklyn Follies
- Argosy Book Shop, from Vertigo
- Women & Women First, from Portlandia
- Ray’s Occult Books, from Ghostbusters 2
- Black Books, from Black Books
- Flourish & Blotts, from the Harry Potter series
- Carolina’s Café con Libros, from Desperado
- The Shop Around The Corner, from You’ve Got Mail
LA VITA NUOVA
One million years ago a friend sent me a link to this Allegra Goodman story from a New Yorker.
“For when need to procrastinate,” she said.
And tonight, since I was thousands of feet in the air and avoiding things I should’ve been doing (like drafting resolutions and updating my online dating profile) I read it. It’s a story about a woman named Amanda and the whole thing unfolds just after Amanda’s engagement ends and she starts babysitting a boy named Nathaniel.
“You’re lovely,” Nathaniel’s father whispered to Amanda late that night. She was just leaving, and he’d opened the door for her.
“You’re not supposed to say that,” Amanda whispered back. “You’re supposed to write a sonnet.”
Nathaniel said that he knew what to do when you were upset. She said, “Tell me, Nathaniel.”
He said, “Go to the zoo.”
“I think you’ll love it,” my friend said.
And I did.
Read it too.