Another week of not very good news I am afraid. There’s sickness, bad behavior everywhere, the Market is tanking. Everyone’s mood seems to veering somewhere between hysteria and a shoulder shrugging fatalism. I know that for myself my nerves are frayed and I found myself asking a woman who cut in front of me in a line if she was aware of how rude she was being. And just to let you all know, she didn’t care. Look, it’s not pretty People. We are supposed to have a lovely weekend with a partly sunny day tomorrow and highs in the 70’s with Sunday also being partly sunny but with slightly chillier temps. I am charging all of you to do something that brings you peace and happiness. So bake a cookie, go for a walk by the sea, play with a puppy, have lunch with a friend, go to The Marshalls. Do one thing so that for the next week you can look back on it and remember with fondness and perhaps bring a little tranquility to your world. This week we have secrets (ssshhh), Old Boys, bodies of water, an island, a muddle and a vow. Playlist? Another twofer week! Bonus!
Let us begin!
Barbara M told me she was pleasantly surprised at how much she enjoyed her offering this week. “Not My Father’s Son by actor and now author Alan Cumming is a heart wrenching, beautifully written memoir. The book is organized into alternating chapters entitled ‘Then’ and ‘Now.’ The ‘Then’ chapters focus on the abuse Cumming and his brother suffered from their father. The ‘Now’ chapters tell the story of the filming of the BBC show Who Do You Think You Are which uses genealogical research to uncover family secrets. The subject they chose to investigate was the disappearance of Cumming’s maternal grandfather who never returned home after serving in France during World War II. He eventually moved to Malaysia and died there under mysterious circumstances. The book is poignant, sometimes funny and very engrossing. “
Erin as we all know, loves herself a memoir. Here is her take on Lena Dunham’s Not that Kind of Girl. “The creator/writer/star of HBO’s Girls has written a highly entertaining collection of personal essays on the topics of falling in love, losing her virginity, accepting her body, and sitting at the table of the Old Boys Club that is Hollywood. While Dunham can be very polarizing, I found her essays to be well written and frequently hilarious. She is, after all, sharing her own experience as a young woman coming into her own.”
Laura is hanging on to summer. Here are two books that have stuck with her. “I wanted to let you know of some special reading that I did over the summer that I think many would enjoy. These books are not new, but both are perspectives on our region, Long Island Sound and the Hudson River Valley, that will make you want to explore and know more about these amazing waterways. First is The Hudson, A History, by Tom Lewis. What I didn't know was the Hudson River was the engine behind the development of our country. Albany was the most important city during the 1800's, and when Lincoln was campaigning for President, Albany was the place he needed the votes, because industry and westward expansion was at its utmost. Not only were artists mesmerized by the river's landscape and beauty; industrialists and inventors were captured by its potential which, in turn, fueled the emerging region into the powerhouse it still is today. As well, the story about Long Island Sound is beautifully rendered in Tom Andersen's This Fine Piece of Water: An Environmental History of Long Island Sound. From the Indians, to pirates, to the colonies fighting for independence, to the present day city expansions and pollution; this is the story about how the Sound is coming back thanks to the efforts of environmental watch groups. It is a strongly written account of the history of our failures and our successes. This is a must read.”
The Ever Delightful Pat S has just finished The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin. “ This is a charming tale which reads almost as a fable and yet is not a fable. So I have settled on it being a sort of love letter to readers. Set in an independent bookstore on an island off the coast of Massachusetts, we are introduced to a childless middle aged widower. In the two years since his wife died, A. J. has become angry and bitter due to his personal loss and as a bookseller in a failing business. Lo and behold, something completely unexpected is dropped into his lap-providing the catalyst for a new and wonderful life. Peopled with the local denizens of an island colony, it is reading that ties everyone together at first until the bonds of love and friendship have become established. Each chapter is introduced with a synopsis of a book or short story which mirrors A.J. Fikry’s life philosophy and provides a very respectable reading list for the reader as well. This is a book which celebrates the power of reading and art to heal and nurture. If the news is getting you down, this is the book for you.”
Steph has discovered another favorite of the year. “Here is another best book of the year; On Immunity: An Inoculation by Eula Biss. Biss, who has won practically every award you can win for essay and non-fiction writing, has produced one of the most thoughtful pieces of personal writing I have read in a long time. When she became pregnant with her son, Biss was instantly confronted by the many dilemmas facing modern mothers, and none was more urgent and muddled than the decision to vaccinate. Should she vaccinate? When? Which diseases? This puzzle led her to research the history of vaccination and how it’s been regarded over the years. The result is a book that moves effortlessly between personal story and well-researched non-fiction. The book is relatively short, but Biss’s writing is so powerful that I often took breaks while reading it to absorb everything she’d thrown at me. This book would obviously be great for parents, doctors, and nurses, but will also appeal to readers who like Andrew Solomon, Rachel Carson, and Carolyn Kellogg. This is essay writing and science writing at its finest.”
The Fabulous Babs B saw the play of one of my favorite movies of all time. She is begging us all to take a train into New York and experience for ourselves. Here is what she thought of You Can't Take It With You by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman. “On Wednesday a dear friend took me to see the play You Can't Take It With You, with the great James Earl Jones. Set in New York City 1936 it's the story of the zany Sycamore family who march to the beat of a different drummer! When the young Miss Sycamore falls in love and meets her fiancée’s parents who are extremely cold and worlds apart from her loving family, she cancels her engagement. Her Grandfather (James Earl Jones) will have none of this however, and proceeds to tell her how lucky she is to have found love and to go for it because you can't take it with you and life is too short not to take a shot at being happy. The moral of this story really hit home with me and I intend to seize the moment and do things in life I want. Remember, you can't take it with you!”
DJ Jazzy Patty McC is here from The State Which Shall Not Be Named (BTW 42 days until The Game). She is working on focusing on What’s Good. So Pats? What’s Good? “ This week I’d like to focus on The Happy. What makes me happy is probably different than what makes you happy so I’ll share first. This week it made me very happy to hear that folks are enthusiastically lining up to get their flu shots. It makes me feel as though my endless preaching has been heard, so thank you for that! And for those who have not yet done so, please go get a flu shot.
It’s no secret that I am a picture book enthusiast. So it made me very happy to learn that one of my favorite authors has a new picture book, Once Upon an Alphabet: Short Stories for All the Letters by Oliver Jeffers. I’m lucky number three in the hold queue and will be anxiously awaiting that pick-up email. I’ve no doubt that this book will meet my expectations. In fact, the anticipation of reading it makes me happy and frankly just a tiny bit giddy. Read more about it here.
Discovering good new tunes also makes me happy. This week I’ve curated a short playlist with some new songs that you may not have heard though I’m fairly certain you’ve heard the first tune. DL A SHORT PLAYLIST OF NEW TUNES 2014
I’m also including a throwback to the DL SUMMER FIND UR HAPPY PLACE 2013 playlist because it’s just plain chock-full of happy. I recommend you listen to it in the shuffle mode.
If you find that you need some help in finding your own Happy, I’ve got good news. There’s an app for that! Check these out.
So this week I encourage you to go forth, find your own Happy and share it with us. The world could use a little more Happy right about now.