Wishes for My TBR Pile: 5 Books for Thoughts and Motivation

I began getting antsy about my Barnes & Noble coupons a few days ago since I hadn’t gotten any since the year began. But last Thursday I came home to a wonderful surprise—coupons for books! I was elated though my joy quickly soured some when I recalled that part of my Lent commitment is to not purchase any books (or shoes).

This might be an easy feat for some but for those like me who LOVE to purchase books (and shoes), it’s torture. I’ve been tempted many times since the beginning of Lent to purchase a book and barely resisted doing so. Especially since this is my birthday month, which makes it easy for me to punch loopholes into my commitment: “Obviously I should be able to purchase presents for myself despite Lent,” I’ve often thought followed by, “Why am I even doing this? I’m not even Catholic.” Luckily the coupons will expire after the Lent period so I’ll have ample time to purchase a few books. So in April when Lent is over, I’ll treat myself to one of these as a birthday gift:

Comma Queen

Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen by Mary Norris (April 6, 2015)

Mary Norris has spent more than three decades in the New Yorker’s copy department, maintaining its celebrated high standards. Now she brings her vast experience, good cheer, and finely sharpened pencils to help the rest of us in a boisterous language book as full of life as it is of practical advice.

Between You & Me features Norris’s laugh-out-loud descriptions of some of the most common and vexing problems in spelling, punctuation, and usage….and her clear explanations of how to handle them. Down-to-earth and always open-minded, she draws on examples from Charles Dickens, Emily Dickinson, Henry James, and the Lord’s Prayer, as well as from The Honeymooners, The Simpsons, David Foster Wallace, and Gillian Flynn. 

I can’t recall where I first read about this book—it must have been in a Shelf Awareness newsletter—but I immediately added it to my TBR list. I enjoy reading books on writing and Norris’ book promises to be a thrill. Also, it comes out just in time for the end of Lent and my coupon’s expiration date.

Another reason why I’m getting this book is because I would like to work as a copy editor. I just began training as one and it has improved my writing, though I still make mistakes. I’ve found that it’s easier to edit the works of others than my own, though it helps if I return to what I’ve written after some time has passed to edit. But I’m usually too impatient to wait.

Related articles:

A short feature on Shelf Awareness

And an entertaining article by Norris in the New Yorker (If the book is like this, I will definitely enjoy it.)

Speaking of books on writing and grammar that aren’t a bore, see Style: The Basics of Clarity and Grace by Joseph M. Williams.

Get in Trouble

Get in Trouble: Stories by Kelly Link (February 3, 2015)

She has been hailed by Michael Chabon as “the most darkly playful voice in American fiction” and by Neil Gaiman as “a national treasure.” Now Kelly Link’s eagerly awaited new collection—her first for adult readers in a decade—proves indelibly that this bewitchingly original writer is among the finest we have.

Link has won an ardent following for her ability, with each new short story, to take readers deeply into an unforgettable, brilliantly constructed fictional universe. The nine exquisite examples in this collection show her in full command of her formidable powers. In “The Summer People,” a young girl in rural North Carolina serves as uneasy caretaker to the mysterious, never-quite-glimpsed visitors who inhabit the cottage behind her house. In “I Can See Right Through You,” a middle-aged movie star makes a disturbing trip to the Florida swamp where his former on- and off-screen love interest is shooting a ghost-hunting reality show. In “The New Boyfriend,” a suburban slumber party takes an unusual turn, and a teenage friendship is tested, when the spoiled birthday girl opens her big present: a life-size animated doll.

This one was discovered in a Shelf Awareness newsletter as well but to shake things up a bit, you can watch SFF180’s Mailbag Monday video for an overview (video below). I am not familiar with the author and usually I don’t read short stories or anthologies but the Shelf Awareness review made me curious so into the TBR pile Get in Trouble went.

Related article on Shelf Awareness

—and YouTube video:

The Wave in the Mind

The Wave in the Mind: Talks & Essays on the Writer, the Reader & the Imagination by Ursula K. Le Guin (February 17, 2004)

Join Ursula K. Le Guin as she explores a broad array of subjects, ranging from Tolstoy, Twain, and Tolkien to women’s shoes, beauty, and family life. With her customary wit, intelligence, and literary craftsmanship, she offers a diverse and highly engaging set of readings. The Wave in the Mind includes some of Le Guin’s finest literary criticism, rare autobiographical writings, performance art pieces, and, most centrally, her reflections on the arts of writing and reading.

It was a review on Books, the Universe, and Everything that alerted me to this one. Though I enjoyed reading Le Guin’s Earthsea trilogy, for some of the books I enjoyed reading the thoughts she shared in the back matter more. There she discusses her thoughts on the story she had written and why she crafted certain characters the way she did. I’m currently reading Jeff Vandermeer’s Wonderbook (another great book on writing) in which he includes an essay by Le Guin where she shares her opinions on being barraged about the messages in her stories. (She claims that she writes them to be experienced, not to hide messages.) Always, whenever I read her essays, I’m left with a bubbling mind. I look forward to this one.

Related posts on this book:

See Emily’s review on Books, the Universe, and Everything

And read excerpts on Brain Pickings

My thoughts on the Earthsea trilogy:

A Wizard of Earthsea

The Tombs of Atuan

The Farthest Shore

Spinster

Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own by Kate Bolick (April 21, 2015)

“Whom to marry, and when will it happen—these two questions define every woman’s existence.” So begins Spinster, a revelatory and slyly erudite look at the pleasures and possibilities of remaining single. Using her own experiences as a starting point, journalist and cultural critic Kate Bolick invites us into her carefully considered, passionately lived life, weaving together the past and present to examine why­ she—along with over 100 million American women, whose ranks keep growing—remains unmarried.

This unprecedented demographic shift, Bolick explains, is the logical outcome of hundreds of years of change that has neither been fully understood, nor appreciated. Spinster introduces a cast of pioneering women from the last century whose genius, tenacity, and flair for drama have emboldened Bolick to fashion her life on her own terms: columnist Neith Boyce, essayist Maeve Brennan, social visionary Charlotte Perkins Gilman, poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, and novelist Edith Wharton. By animating their unconventional ideas and choices, Bolick shows us that contemporary debates about settling down, and having it all, are timeless—the crucible upon which all thoughtful women have tried for centuries to forge a good life.

Yes, another Shelf Awareness discovery. I can’t help it, I love their newsletters. This one grabbed my attention because of the women whose lives Bolick examines within—Charlotte Gilman Perkins and Edith Wharton, to name two. The related Atlantic article below, which is the basis for the book, also sparked my interest. The article delves into why there are more single women today and how the institution of marriage has changed. It’s a long read but I highly recommend it. Bolick, of course, had her journalist cap on when she wrote the article so it’s analytical but Spinster is a bit of a memoir so it will have more of a creative edge, making it smoother to digest.

Related articles:

All the Single Ladies, Bolick’s article in the Atlantic

Maximum Shelf feature on Shelf Awareness

Letters to a Young Artist

Letters to a Young Artist: Straight-up Advice on Making a Life in the Arts—For Actors, Performers, Writers, and Artists of Every Kind by Anna Deavere Smith (January 24, 2006)

From the most exciting individual in American theater” (Newsweek), here is Anna Deavere Smith’s brass tacks advice to aspiring artists of all stripes. In vividly anecdotal letters to the young BZ, she addresses the full spectrum of issues that people starting out will face: from questions of confidence, discipline, and self-esteem, to fame, failure, and fear, to staying healthy, presenting yourself effectively, building a diverse social and professional network, and using your art to promote social change. At once inspiring and no-nonsense, Letters to a Young Artist will challenge you, motivate you, and set you on a course to pursue your art without compromise.

I’ve wanted to read this book ever since seeing it mentioned in my Brain Pickings newsletter (see, different newsletter this time). But I kept forgetting to add it to my TBR pile, which made me forget about it entirely until someone mentions it or I see my copy of Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet on my bookshelf. So here I am finally adding it to my TBR pile and, hopefully, will purchase and read it soon. So far, I’ve enjoyed the sample chapters I’ve downloaded on my Kindle app.

Related Brain Pickings post

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Wishes for My TBR Pile: 5 Books for Thoughts and Motivation

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s