One Year, 100 Classics

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Friends, Romans and countrymen, I have been woefully neglectful of this little corner of cyberspace, but I promise it’s only because I’ve embarked upon the previously mentioned journey to re-smarten myself through the classics (and I don’t mean that one class I took in college where all we talked about was psychedelic mushrooms.)

Living in a college town has its perks. And one of the biggest? Is great book stores. Towering, multi-story book stores full of that gorgeous smell that’s something like a melange of new paper and cheap leather and burnt coffee and binding glue, which in my opinion is the only safe glue to inhale. Disclaimer: I am not a scientist or a doctor, so take that last bit with a grain of salt.

Book stores are my happy place. Book stores are my sanctuary. Book stores are where I do terrible, awful, unspeakable things to my checking account. Things for which I feel the need to send my local bank branch that delicious Williams-Sonoma peppermint bark at Christmas.

My most recent set of acquisitions is a blend of old and new, classic and not. The classics are some of my best-loved – Hemingway and Huxley and Vonnegut, since my previous copies had been read to death. But since I doubt my ability to focus only on raiding the summer reading table over the next year, I’m also allowing myself one history book (a deep-seated passion) and two fun reads every time I hit the book store. You should do the same! And if you’re looking for a starter list, should you decide to take up your own #OneYear100Classics challenge, I’d suggest the following blend, which is guaranteed to keep your neurons firing and your heartstrings tugged:

The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway
The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
Pride & Prejudice, Jane Austen
The House of Mirth, Edith Wharton
Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad
Howl and Other Poems, Allen Ginsberg
Serena, Ron Rash
The Crimson Petal and the White, Michel Faber
The Devil in the White City, Erik Larson

Note: I’m not fancy enough to have an Amazon affiliate link, so these recommendations are quite simply a few of my very favorites (and yes, I understand they are essentially the equivalent of saying The Beatles are your favorite band. But The Beatles kicked ass, and so do these books.) Also? The relationship between Hemingway and Fitzgerald was just as fascinating as their novels – you can read about it in this great book, or you can watch Midnight in Paris. (I’d suggest both. An extra ten points to you if you go on to read Djuna Barnes’ fabulous Nightwood!)

Happy reading!

Love,
Your Gal

100 Days of What Now?

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Scrolling through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest lately, I’ve noticed more and more people jumping on the #100DaysOfHappy bandwagon. And I completely applaud them! Snaps for anyone who can commit to being ascetic and serene and yogic for more than three months.

I? Am not one of those people.

Stop me if you’ve heard this old song and dance before, but I am not the kind of girl who can commit to 100 days of clean eating, clean living and posting inspirational little quotes on social media. I mean, suddenly all of my friends are as twee and adorable as the Dalai Lama or Lauren Conrad, posting pastel photos of their quinoa-and-kale-based lunches and their pigeon poses.

(Side note: has everyone stopped sweating? Because I hear “yoga” and think “better invest in a few more of those sweat-wicking tops, lady.”)

Not to sound cynical (or worse, obtuse), but I’m not certain I understand the motivation behind removing all little annoyances in one’s life through diet, exercise and activities more highbrow than watching Midnight in Paris for the 57th time. Me? I like my little annoyances. They’re the coal in my motivation fire. The more annoyed I am, the harder I work.

Is that healthy? Maybe not. But it works for me. And honestly? Without my righteous indignation, I’m sure I’d be 342% less driven. That’s not to say my lovely friends and acquaintances won’t come through this experience full of sparkling energy and wonderful insights, but were I to commit along with them, I’m certain I’d come out the other side as bland as a bowl of plain oatmeal. 

Believe me, for I have read a pile of self-help books, and after about two weeks of moping around like a kid who was jipped by the Tooth Fairy, I always backslide into my personal brand of rapid-fire sarcasm and Margo Channing-type dramatics.

I am not a juice cleanse girl; I am a girl who pronounces green juice terrible and drinks nothing but $8 lemonade for three days.

I am not a barre class girl; I am a sweat and curse through two hours of hot yoga girl.

I am not ascetic, I am not serene and most of my inspiration quotes originate from Beyoncé.

And that’s okay.

Love,

Your Gal