The beginning of November is always the most exciting time for me because it means pulling out my Christmas decor and spicing things up for the holidays. I LOVE the holiday season, and I love making everything in my house festive and cheerful. This November is even more special for me because in a few short weeks my wee babe should be making his appearance in our lives, and I can’t wait to bring him home to a beautifully decorated house.
This year I’ve got a whole new collection of Christmassy items in the shop. Christmas decor and ornaments are probably my favorite things ever to make. Christmas is such a happy time of year, and I love the possibility of helping people achieve that with handmade decor!
For this season, I have created a new line of book-inspired Christmas ornaments, because books are ❤ and deserve a special spot on your tree. Right now, I’ve got a number of titles including Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, and Macbeth by William Shakespeare, among many others. I will keep adding more as I make them, and I’m thinking about giving them a permanent, year-round spot in the shop. These ornaments compliment my classic book cover tapestries.
I’m also really excited to be offering fully customizable Christmas stockings, complete with a pocket displaying a hand-painted shelf of your favorite books. Obviously, books are a big part of my life and I love including them in my Christmas festivities. I made a stocking for my husband, one for myself, and one for the baby – who doesn’t have a name yet, so I’ll be adding on his name after he’s born!
I hope the beginning of your holiday season is amazing, and please consider shopping small this Christmas! Etsy is a great resource for any number of handmade goods, and supporting small businesses is what makes our world go round. Remember to order your handmade decor and gifts far in advanced so they ship to you in time!
Fall is by far my favorite season – I love the scents and the foods and the pleasure of snuggling up in a warm blanket with a cup of tea and a favorite book. Until recently I was reading Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, and though an interesting read without a doubt, I just couldn’t handle the chilling plot and twisty characters with the leaves turning such warm colors and the season demanding some joy and coziness. So I took to my massive book collection and started picking out some books that better suit the season. Fall reads deserve to be as warm and comforting as all that come with this season, so I’ve compiled a list for you in case you’re in a reading bind this autumn.
Here are some perfect books to read when the weather gets chillier:
1. The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis (or The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe if you’re not willing to take on the whole series). This is what I’m currently reading. Every page is filled with magic – a good magic – and that makes it a happy read. There’s nothing quite like disappearing into Narnia for a couple of hours, to have tea with a faun or adventures with talking beavers.
2. The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde. Oscar Wilde’s witty dialogue is what makes this play shine. Try getting through one scene without busting out laughing – I dare you. This hilarious comedy, which is set in the Victorian age, is themed around the triviality of certain social constructs such as marriage. The characters are everything.
3. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. At times a suspense-filled, tear-rending, and tense read, Jane Eyre is the perfect choice for fall because it’s full of fireside conversations and intrigue. Not to mention a juicy forbidden love story between governess and master of the house. And let’s not forget the madwoman in the attic.
4. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. You probably read this in high school but maybe it’s time to pull it out again. The ultimate tale of Puritan scandal, The Scarlet Letter follows Hester Prynne – marked with the letter A and ostracized in her town for adultery – and her disguised husband who is seeking revenge upon the man who fathered Hester’s child. Not necessarily a happy story, but a great one nonetheless!
5. Candy Freak by Steve Almond. The holidays always get me thinking about candy, so what better way to feed this mania by reading a book about it too?? Candy Freak is about some of the most popular family-owned candy factories still in existence today in the United States. Almond brilliantly describes the candy he samples at each of these factories – which just makes you want to cry for candy and go trick-or-treating!
6. A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf. This is not a novel but rather a long essay, but don’t snuff your nose at it so fast – it is in no way dry. Virginia Woolf knows her way around the written word and in this monologue brilliantly vies for woman’s place in both the literal and fictional world. If you’re looking for a thought-provoking, smart work of non-fiction, read this.
7. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen. I love Northanger Abbey for fall for some of the same reasons as Jane Eyre – the setting is simply perfect. In this lesser known of Jane Austen’s novels, the main character, Catherine Morland, goes to stay with some friends who live in an old Gothic house. Catherine’s active imagination and pliable personality cause her to start suspecting everything and everyone in the house of mystery, intrigue, and deceit. A comedy of manners, this novel does not disappoint in regard to conversation and relationships between characters. And like all Jane Austen novels, it does have a happy ending.
8. If all else fails, grab a book of poetry. Some of my favorite poets for fall? Robert Frost, Emily Bronte (yes, she was a poet as well as a novelist!), and Pablo Neruda. There is something very serene about sitting down with a book of poetry, especially when it’s a poem about walking through the forest at dawn or watching the leaves drift down from the trees.
What are your favorite books to read in the fall? Have you read all the ones on my list? Happy reading!
Hi guys! Sorry I’ve been awol for a while – life has become increasingly crazy and is only bound to get more crazy with baby coming in about a month. I’ve been a busy bee getting ready for my little man to arrive, stocking up on products for the shop, and preparing for the busy holiday shopping season ahead. I don’t want to get too swamped with unmade orders once the baby is here.
“Every man’s island, Jean Louise, every man’s watchman, is his conscience. There is no such thing as a collective conscious.”
As with any highly anticipated sequel, there are people out there who say that Go Set A Watchman, Harper Lee’s surprising second to To Kill A Mockingbird, does not live up to expectations. I, however, disagree. This book did not disappoint, in spite of the intense adoration I’ve had for To Kill a Mockingbird since high school. Though GSAW is different than I maybe expected, and has some hard moments and a rather large dose of reality, the book really did capture the spirit of it’s predecessor, just in a more adult and mature sort of way.
Jean Louise Finch (Scout) is back in Maycomb, Alabama to visit her father. She now lives in New York City and has a career – as you could have guessed from her early years depicted in TKAM, she is a very independent woman. Though she’s a big city woman now, going back to Maycomb is still like going back home – except this time she starts to notice how things are changing, and she doesn’t like it.
While focusing on her adult life, there are many new anecdotes from Jean Louise’s childhood which are charming as ever. In this way, it was almost like reading TKAM afresh, but with adult eyes. In this novel she is the woman Atticus raised her, but her hardheadedness proves to be problematic in the end. She sees the world a certain way, and when she realizes that those she loves may not see it the same way as she does, she starts to question everything she knows. The main conflict in the novel revolves around civil rights – Jean Louise, of course, believes in absolute equality among men (she is Atticus’s daughter, after all, and who was he but the man who defended a black man on a charge of rape and got him acquitted?), but she comes to find out that Henry Clinton, her long time friend and current suitor, her uncle Jack, and even her father have the stereotypical Southern beliefs that she was raised (or so she thought) to despise.
“Remember this also: it’s always easy to look back and see what we were, yesterday, ten years ago. It is hard to see what we are. If you can master that trick, you’ll get along.”
Go Set a Watchman was actually written before To Kill a Mockingbird, but when Harper Lee sent it to the publishers they suggested she pull a narrative from those childhood anecdotes and write a book set in that more innocent time. I think in many ways TKAM is a far more enduring classic (which is why it has remained popular for over fifty years, and why this new novel of Lee’s was so highly anticipated from the earlier novel’s fans), but Go Set a Watchman is a nice companion to the novel, and when reading it with TKAM in mind it is quite charming and pleasurable. I will concede that on its own, GSAW may not be a fantastic novel – most of the assertions, claims, and credibility come from knowing the characters in TKAM and thus had you not read it before digging into GSAW, the book would probably fall flat.
For those who tout this novel, however, as a failed comment on race or even racist are looking at the story completely wrong. One must remember while reading it that it was written in the fifties – the way of thinking at that time was completely different from our thinking now. The novel is not supposed to be focused on segregation, the NAACP, and white supremacy, but rather on the relationship between father and daughter, and how this can change from childhood to adulthood. The thing to take away from GSAW is not that Atticus is a hateful bigot, but that Jean Louise, who had been blinded to her father’s true character by his seeming lack of error as she grew up, loves her father despite the fact that they now seem to have opposing views of the world.
So all in all, I recommend this novel if you’re a fan of To Kill a Mockingbird. If you’re not a fan of To Kill a Mockingbird, shame on you and go read it again. If you’ve never read To Kill a Mockingbird, BOO on you, go back to school, and get some culture. 🙂
I am sad to say that books these days are becoming more of a novelty than any thing else. It’s hard to find avid readers out there anymore, and many of those who do read do so on a Kindle or Nook. Rarely do I see a bookshelf full of books when I go over to friends’ houses; instead, shelves are adorned with pictures and trinkets, maybe a photo album. Books are becoming more and more obsolete as every day goes by, and with this an unwelcome trend: that of using books (old and new, unfortunately) for craft and decor projects.
We’ve all seen these projects – book page covered lamp shades, hollowed out books, book page wall papering, book stack lamps, etc, etc. I’ll admit – they look cool. But every time one of these projects pops up on my Facebook news feed I cringe. The reason I have a problem with them is this: books can make a design statement in your home just as books, no alteration necessary. Now, if the book being used is literally falling apart (aka pages falling freely from the binding) go ahead and use it. Recycle it. Make it into something beautiful. But the thing about these home decor crafts is that the books being used tend to be shiny and gorgeous – clearly not at the end of their lifespan.
Book decor, I suppose, is part of the “nerd chic” aesthetic which has been steadily growing in popularity over the years. On that topic, I will say this: Book pages on your walls do not make you look more intelligent – books on your shelves do.
Here are a couple straightforward reasons we should not be destroying perfectly good books for craft projects:
Books were made for reading. That is their purpose.
There are people out there who want those books you are defacing, I promise. (I happen to be one of those people.)
Now, I am well aware that sometimes libraries throw books out after library sales because there are simply too many. I know that some books are beyond repair and beyond saving. By all means, if you find a Reader’s Digest Condensed book from the sixties, do something cool with it. But if it’s a beautiful old copy of My Cousin Rachel by Daphne Du Maurier or a vintage biology textbook with an amazing cover, DO NOT destroy it.
If you love the look of book decor and definitely prescribe to the nerd chic aesthetic, there are ways of decorating your home without murdering the souls of book-lovers. For instance, I started selling vintage book-cover tapestries in my shop a couple months ago. They capture the spirit of the old book without harming it. Another fun idea (which I totally want to do once we purchase our own home) is to paint a wall to resemble a page out of one of your favorite books. You can also simply make or buy artwork that features your favorite quotes from literature – this is an awesome way to make your home look sophisticated and smart.
I’m on a John Green kick. Honestly, it seems like everything he writes I can’t put down, which is definitely how it’s been with An Abundance of Katherines.
I particularly like this book because it is humorous and highly relatable. The other John Green books I’ve read have had a mask of humor hiding a rather dark and twisty plot. This one is light-hearted, which is refreshing.
An Abundance of Katherines is about a grown-up child prodigy, Colin, who has only ever dated girls named Katherines – 19 Katherines, to be exact. When he graduates from high school and gets dumped, his best friend – an overweight, funny muslim named Hassan – convinces him to go with him on a road trip, which lands them in Gutshot, Tennessee. Here, they meet a girl named Lindsey and her mom Hollis, who hires the two of them to interview factory workers for a documentary she is making.
“Here’s to all the places we went. And all the places we’ll go. And here’s to me, whispering again and again and again and again: iloveyou”
Along with interviewing the factoring workers, Colin is intent on figuring out his Theorem: a theorem to essentially predict how a relationship will turn out, based on variables like popularity, attractiveness, age, etc. Ultimately, it predicts dumpee vs dumper. (He has been dumped by every Katherine he has ever dated, which is 19 Katherines.)
He is very thorough in describing the Theorem and the math behind it, and this is probably the only type of math I’m okay with reading about. There is just an element of hilarity throughout the whole book that makes it an entertaining read. There is also, however, an underlying theme of the search for acceptance – not only in society, but acceptance of yourself: quirks, eccentricities, and all. It also goes into great depths about what it means to matter in this world, and paving your own path to importance. I definitely recommend this book if you’re in the mood for a fun, quick read.
“Books are the ultimate Dumpees: put them down and they’ll wait for you forever; pay attention to them and they always love you back.”
So, I’m not one of those people who obsesses over books and consequently hates their movie counterparts (I do obsess over books, but I also obsess over their movies). You know the type – they whine about book scenes left out of the movie, characters whose hair is the wrong color, music choices that seem too upbeat for the moment, etc., etc. Minutiae is what I call all of this.
I love movies based off books because the movie is someone’s artistic interpretation of a novel that is already a work of art. So it’s basically turning art into more art, and who can hate that? Some of my absolute favorite movies are based off of books: The Great Gatsby (2013), Anna Karenina (2012), Pride and Prejudice (2005) (though many people fault this movie for being too “artistic”, which I think is absolutely ridiculous), Jane Eyre (2011), the Harry Potter series, Divergent (2014), and I could go on and on. When one of your favorite books becomes a movie it’s just adding to the magic of the story – it’s like the book will never truly end, and that is a special thing. There are many other books I have been anxiously waiting to become movies though, so if any of you reading this are movie producers…GET ON IT! Note that a few of these books are already movies. I know, I know, but honestly, some things just deserve to be updated.
1. Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton. This short novel would make an awesome movie, no doubt about it. I know that not a lot of people know about it, but that definitely shouldn’t be a reason for its absence in the big screen world. Ethan Frome has poignant themes and stark imagery – perfect for translating to movie. Ethan is stuck in a marriage to a sick, cold, and bitter woman, but when a young Mattie Silver enters his world (hired by his wife to help keep the house) it’s like he’s seen spring again. So they start an affair, and we all know that movies about affairs are too juicy to resist.
2. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. I know that the 1939 version of this movie is still highly regarded and loved, but to quote the famous line “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” I think that the strides we’ve come in cinema and technology could make an absolutely amazing version of this timeless saga. Joe Wright, this one’s for you. Scarlett O’Hara’s trying and inspiring survival through the Civil War and Reconstruction is a story that should be told again.
3. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. There are a few versions of this movie available, but like Gone With the Wind, I think major things could be done for this story. Imagine Baz Luhrmann directing it – it could be a masterpiece. Wuthering Heights is a dark, twisted love story, which is what people want to see! Cathy and Heathcliffe love each other deeply, but are too selfish to do anything about it, so they end up simply destroying everything around them. So full of heartache and tribulation and beautiful images of the moors, what could be a better movie than this?
4. House of Mirth by Edith Wharton. Honestly, I think every Edith Wharton book should become a movie because I love them so much. House of Mirth would be great on film because the story of Lily Bart is so relatable, heart-breaking, and tragic. When a strong character is the center of a story, you know it’s going to be a fantastic movie.
5. The Wrinkle in Time Quintet by Madeleine L’Engle. Take a hint from Narnia – this classic childrens’ series needs to be made into a series of movies. While I obviously hope that children will continue reading the series through the ages rather than skipping the books for the movies, I think movies could do the series a service. Because Narnia has been made into a couple of movies, kids know about the series and are more interested; I could see the same thing happening with The Time Quintet. The series is based on the Murry children, who are the children of scientists and are intelligent young things. They are forced to grow up quickly as they find their world in danger from evil forces in parallel universes.
6. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. I cannot believe that this hasn’t been made into a movie recently. Sci-fi always has a huge following, especially when it hits the big screen, it seems, and this story deserves a rank among the best. It’s about a future society that has banned all reading material and is simply obsessed with technology (sound a little familiar?). The story focuses on the firemen, whose job is to keep fires at 451 degrees – the temperature that burns paper. When Guy Montag, a fireman and the main character, meets Clarisse McClellan, a girl who loves people, nature, and simplicity, his eyes are opened to possibility that destroying the practice of reading might not be so good after all.
7. Any Agatha Christie books. I love the old Agatha Christie movie renditions – so debonair, so classic! – but I think we need a couple new ones. Maybe directed by Wes Anderson. Kind of like how they redid Sherlock Holmes except more quirky and less dark. Those would make for great movies. Agatha Christie basically invented the modern mystery story, so all of her books are pretty flawless. My personal favorites: Death on the Nile, And Then There Were None, and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.
8. Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli. This is a new favorite for me, and I think it would make a really cute movie. It would fall into the ranks of movies like The Spectacular Now or the Fault in Our Stars; a deep-feeling story about the inner lives of teenagers muddling through this weird world of ours. What I like about Stargirl is that it is optimistic – not many movies about teens are, these days. Stargirl is a quirky, individualistic, fantastic character, one who refuses to back down and disappear into the realm of social norms and peer pressure. With the beautiful Arizona setting and the humorous tone, Stargirl would make a wonderful movie.
9. Macbeth by Shakespeare. I’m sure there are lots of versions of this on film, but I really think a Tim Burton version needs to happen. With the witches and the potions and the crazy wife and the murder…it would be a thriller no one would soon forget.
10. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. This book. So dark and funny and twisted and weird. The perfect setting for a movie. Another option for Tim Burton or Baz Luhrmann. It takes place in this huge house with this messed up family, the Blackwoods. As the story progresses, you discover that this family has a very dark past – a past of poisoned sugar on the blackberries one night six years ago at family dinner. Only three of the Blackwoods are left, and two are seriously impaired. The narrator, Merricat, seems the most likely culprit, but was it her? See how perfect this movie would be?!?
So these are my top ten choices for books that need movie counterparts ASAP. What about you? What books would you like to see made into movies? Leave your opinions in the comments!
PS: If you’re curious about these books, I’ve got more in-depth reviews on a few:
I’m currently making my way through a rather difficult book – Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer. If you remember my post from a few weeks ago about vegetarianism, you probably can recall I mentioned factory farms. Eating Animals takes an inside look at factory farming as well as why humans beings eat animals – the stories that drive us, the nostalgia that will always play a part in our eating habits, the societal exceptions we no longer even pay attention to. Surprisingly, this book isn’t purely advocating for a meat-free diet. It is not preachy in any way, and Foer states explicitly that he is not trying to turn anyone vegetarian. His purpose in writing this book was merely to bring to light how truly wrong some of our farming practices are when it comes to animals.
Foer himself always oscillated between carnivorism and vegetarianism growing up. As a child, he always felt there was something a little wrong about eating meat – he thought about the animals he knew, and didn’t understand how it was not okay to hurt a dog, but perfectly fine to eat a chicken. Once he had a child of his own, he decided to figure out exactly what we in America eat, and this book was born. He visited factory farms and did mounds of research, and the results are frankly frightening.
Nothing inspires as much shame as being a parent. Children confront us with our paradoxes and hypocrisies, and we are exposed. You need to find an answer for everywhy – why do we do this? Why do we do that? – and often there isn’t a good one. So you simply say, because. And whether or not your face reddens, you blush. The same of parenthood – which is a good shame – is that we want our children to be more whole than we are, to have satisfactory answers. My son not only inspired me to reconsider what kind of eating animal I would be, but shamed me into reconsideration.
Within this book are facts about chickens, pigs, cow, fish, and every other type of animal we know as food. Foer’s friendly and informative tone really makes it easy to reconsider our own eating habits, and it’s not just about being mean to the animals. It is about what is right.
Needless to say, jamming deformed, drugged, overstressed birds together in a filthy, waste-coated room is not very healthy. Beyond deformities, eye damage, blindness, bacterial infections of bones, slipped vertebrae, paralysis, internal bleeding, anemia, slipped tendons, twisted lower legs and necks, respiratory diseases, and weakened immune systems are frequent and long-standing problems on factory farms.
As I see it, God gave animals to man. Whether or not Adam and Eve ate animals while in the garden, eventually animals became one of our main food sources, and this was okay by God. But that doesn’t mean we can manipulate their genes, stuff them into cages where they can barely move, torture them with painful deaths. Animals were created by God and given to man, and therefore I believe should be given the sort of lives they were created for. Cows should be allowed to graze, chickens to peck and roam, pigs to be curious and play.
It shouldn’t be the consumer’s responsibility to figure out what’s cruel and what’s kind, what’s environmentally destructive and what’s sustainable. Cruel and destructive food products should be illegal. We don’t need the option of buying children’s toys made with lead paint, or aerosols with chlorofluorocarbons, or medicines with unlabeled side effects. And we don’t need the option of buying factory-farmed animals.
Whether you are a vegetarian or a meat lover, I definitely recommend this book. It will make you think, reconsider. And this is a good thing.
Do you eat chicken because you are familiar with the scientific literature on them and have decided that their suffering doesn’t matter, or do you do it because it tastes good?
I like being happy, but let’s face it – as humans, sometimes we enjoy wallowing in other people’s pain. And books are the perfect vehicle for doing this. There are times when all I want to do curl up with a nice, sad book, something that is going to give me a good cry and make me ruminate on life a while. In these times I have a few go-to sad books that I would love to share with you. Each of these books has strong, relatable characters involved in some sort of misfortune. Jumping in to the lives of these tragic characters really does lend some perspective on a hard day – at least my life isn’t as hard some of the lives in these books.
1. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. Probably the most tragic love story of all time. Cathy Earnshaw and Heathcliff grow up and together and have loved each other their entire lives, but they are both so selfish, conceited, and ego-centered that their love ends up destroying them.
2. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. The main characters of Gone With the Wind have a similar problem to Cathy and Heathcliff – they are selfish. Rhett and Scarlett are both hard-headed and independent, and they fall in love completely, but in the midst of war and turmoil their love simply cannot endure.
3. The Lifted Veil by George Eliot. This short novel is a haunting tale of a loveless marriage. The main character, a poetic, dying man, tells the tale of how he blindly fell in love with his wife, despite seeing visions of what their married life would be like. This 90 page book really makes you think about life and how the choices you make affect it.
4. The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy. This is also a short, poignant tale about a man on his deathbed, who, as he dies, realizes that his life has been empty and void of love. A startling look at the inner life of the common man, this novella is sure to bring tears for humanity.
“The very fact of the death of someone close to them aroused in all who heard about it, as always, a feeling of delight that he had died and they hadn’t.”
5. The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald. Everyone knows the story of Gatsby and Daisy (thank you Warner Brothers), but have you read it? This book is one of the strongest works of literary fiction written by an American author. The characters are memorable and colorful, and the twisted plot unforgettable. You don’t get the full effect from the movie – if you haven’t read this one, it’s a must.
“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
6. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. Such a story. Such a saga. Les Mis, also a movie based on a book that demands to be read, is about a righteous man who is served a cruel slice of life. In all of his trials, he remains a good good man, and this is why his tragedy is so heartbreaking. It is a story of the rise and fall of the common man, and anyone who loves literature must read it.
7. Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton. Another short novel about a bitter marriage, Ethan Frome is a singular story that parallels the harshness of a New England landscape to an adulterous marriage. When Mattie Silver comes to work for the Fromes, to care for the house and Mrs. Frome, who is chronically ill, Ethan falls in love with her. The lengths he goes to escape his embittered wife is audacious but becomes his undoing.
8. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. This story follows the lives of a missionary family who has gone to Africa. The arid African landscape changes everything they have ever known – including their hearts. This poignant novel is riveting from the first page to the last, and I think I cried throughout the entire last half.
“It’s frightening when things you love appear suddenly changed from what you have always known.”
9. Atonement by Ian McEwen. Perhaps you have seen the movie. Atonement is about how the clouded judgement of a young girl and her quick words of accusation can upheaval an entire life. Set in the English countryside during World War II, this novel is engaging and never short for emotion.
10. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. This lyrical novel is the story of an African American woman’s fight to become her own person during the Depression era. Beautifully written and well worth a few tears or more.
“Two things everybody’s got tuh do fuh theyselves. They got tuh go tuh God, and they got tuh find out about livin’ fuh theyselves.”
I hope you enjoyed my list! What are your favorite sad books to read? Tell me in the comments!