One of the gifts winter gives us is time to do things that we normally wouldn’t carve out when the days are longer and full of sweet sunshine. Lighting fires, making twelve hour stews, writing a letter to a friend that has been on your heart, knitting a scarf for your little one…all of these things lend themselves to rest as they restore us in a slow, but wholesome fashion. I love the feeling I get when opening a book in our comfy bed. I’ll light a candle or diffuse calming oils, get in my stretchiest sweatpants and pull back the covers like I’m unwrapping a new present. This feeling, this excitement, has always allured me. I can remember doing the same sans candle back when I was little and into Harry Potter and Roald Dahl. I would make it a special time when I was about to hunker down and read my book. It made the whole ritual a special one that I looked forward to, something I still find joy doing even as a mother of three.
I get this question from time to time, “How is it, that I get time to read with little ones?” There isn’t a magic trick I can share with you, or a even a simple instruction guide for how to carve out this time I’m afraid. If there is one out there unbeknownst to me, I’d be delighted for you to share it below! I suppose it comes down to making time the old fashioned way and saying “no” to other things that come as a distraction. Television, Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, all of these things though wonderful in small doses, take up a lot of time we could pour into other things that feed our soul and quiet our hearts. Reading is one of those things that for me is completely renewing and worth replacing those other admittedly distracting pursuits. I think we are so accustomed to wanting short cuts to everything now days, that we have forgotten to simply take time and go about things we love or want to do without multitasking or needing a way to do it faster. That’s the secret I think, or lack of one. But gosh, why it is so hard? Alas, here is my small but mighty winter library:
- Home Economics: Vintage Advice and Practical Science for the 21st Century by Jennifer McNight Trontz – This guide is a handy one to have in your collection for it’s chalk-full of tips and tricks and everything practical regarding keeping one’s home. It’s not something I’d sit down and pour over for hours or anything, but picking it up now and again has been fun. The section on manners and etiquette is well, interesting to say that least, but the pages on gardening and crafts and the simple science of home keeping contains some really valuable and entertaining material. It’s clever and well put together, a little gem I’ll be referring to for a long long time I presume.
- With Bold Knife & Fork by M.F.K. Fisher – This witty little book is one of my all-time favorites, one I revisit every so often for inspiration and when craving simple recipes if feeling overwhelmed in the kitchen. Fisher writes about food in a beautiful, uncomplicated way that ultimately guides you down a path towards finding joy in life. I wish I could sit down with her over some coffee cake and just chat for hours. She seems like such a wonderful person. I adore the way she writes and approaches cooking…it reminds me of Midwest in so many ways. Fisher goes into little anecdotes about her childhood and announces simple truths throughout the chapters that are just so refreshing. You’ll love it.
- Felicity: Poems by Mary Oliver – Oh this book. This sweet, soulful book. It’s a breath of fresh air and really something special, one I have been journaling in and underlining and doodling all over the margins. It’s a beautiful collection about love and spiritual renewal, something I really wasn’t expecting from Oliver but adore. It coveys the same tone she has been using for decades, one that I am familiar with when reading her poetry, but she dances into new territory in a surprising way has ultimately left me feeling really uplifted and inspired each time I read. I haven’t gotten through the whole thing as I am savoring this one. And can we talk about the colors on the book cover? Gooorgeous.
- Good News for Weary Woman: Escaping the Bondage of To-Do Lists, Steps, and Bad Advice by Elyse Fitzpatrick – I am currently reading this with my bible study mamas and am a few chapters in. Every ten weeks or so we choose a different study to follow and this season we landed on this book. To be honest, I am not sure how I feel about it yet. The title alone sounded refreshing but I am wrestling with some of the themes Fitzpatrick has highlighted here. That being said, I love books that challenge my way of thinking and give me pause to stir a bit. If anything, this book has gotten some really good conversations going in our group and has lead to some wonderful journaling experiences for me personally, even if I do think the author is a bit bold in some of her accusations.
What books do you have stacked on your nightstand or shoved in your purse? I’m needing recommendations for spring!
For the curious, here is my autumn library.
mamahay - If you haven’t read An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler, you definitely should. It’s written in a very similar style to MFK Fisher. Her words often come to mind as I tend to meals in the kitchen, and I love to pick it up again and again. I love the idea of a seasonal library! I’m in need of reviving my bedside books myself. xo
admin - Oh my gosh, how I love that book! Tamar Adler is seriously one of my favorite humans. I love that you love this, too. Thanks for sharing! x Amanda
Jessie - You can never go wrong with Mary Oliver. Always so uplifting. If I’m in a crummy mood, I often browse her quotes online on my phone just for a quick pick me up! 😉 Both Trontz and Fisher’s books sound right up my alley. Thanks so much for the tips! How fun to get some new inspiration 🙂
Simplicity Parenting has been a favorite since I welcomed my firstborn 5 years ago. I’m sure you’ve read it (perhaps more than once), but that is always one I never hesitate to re-read. Each time, I take away something new…something different hits home in a new way depending on what stage I’m at with my three.
The Blessing of a Skinned Knee by Wendy Mogel is also a go-to on my nightstand. It has a more spiritual approach than Payne’s, though still quite similar in approach to simple loving, solid parenting and raising good people. I’ve loved reading it and always recommend it.
The Parent’s Tao Te Ching is one in my stack too. Short bits that I’m ALWAYS encouraged by.
Besides those, I’m always flipping through cookbooks for inspiration. This weekend it was a new one, Green Kitchen Travels. Have to support my fellow Swedes 😉 I already have two of their recipes on the menu for this week (“sweet potato gnocchi with kale pesto” being one of them :))
Loving reading your thoughts, friend. Thanks for making time to share! xx
admin - Jessie, Literally all of these books you have mentioned here except Green Kitchen Travels are some of my very favorites, you and I are so alike! I love that. Thank you for taking the time to share them with me and readers here, so kind. Going to Amazon GKT right now! x Amanda
Jacquie - Hello,
I love that you incorporate your seasonal book choices and encouage others to list theirs 🙂 It’s very inspirational.
I wish I could share the secret to but unfortunately I dont have it either, however I do agree with you when it comes to ‘distractions’.
As always beautifully written, and if you dont mind me asking where did you find that vase (so lovely).
admin - Jacquie, that vase was found at Target in the kid made modern section! It is intended to be painting, I believe, but I just left it white. So pretty huh! x Amanda
Jenn Visser - These all sound like books I must look into at my next trip to the library. I am a sucker for books and always love hearing what others are reading and suggest. A couple summers ago I read Bread and Wine; which reminds me of how you’ve described Fisher’s book. More recently I’ve been intrigued by older reads – I’d love to hear continued recommendations!!
Caity - Hello!
I’m a new-viewer to your blog, and I am in love. I find your images, design, and words very honest and soothing. Thank you for sharing 🙂
Based on your book list, it doesn’t seem like you are much into fiction, but if you do want a good book in that genre I just finished reading All the Light we Cannot See by Anthony Doerr and it was just wonderful. I actually found out after I finished reading that it won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2015! It took me a little bit to get into, but I fell in love, and found it so hard to put down. It was heavy, but also exciting and uplifting.
Clare - I’m so very excited about all of these recommendations. I second the Tamar Adler admiration! I’m in the middle of Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed which is lovely and hard at the same time. I am a new mom, though, and desperately searching for a book that is able to adequately put word to this wild ride! Do you know of any woman who has been able to describe in loving detail what it is like to fully give of your body, heart, and mind to a tiny human?? And the flood of emotions and questions that come along with that giving? Any tips would be so appreciated!
Kizzy - A great list here, I love making time to read especially snuggled up wither in bed or under a blanket in front of the fire. Not read any of these books so I am adding them to my ever growing list!
Summer Library » Homesong - […] the curious, here is my past winter & autumn […]
Dara - Yours was the first account on Instagram that really spoke to me (I’m @Daralev) It inspired me to slow down and find joy on so many levels. I love your blog as well, have just added some recommendations to my amazon cart. Your approach to daily life is very inspiring – so thank you. 🙂