Marilyn Gardner Woods
Books I’m reading even though my eyesight is temporarily cockeyed.
Six months between cataract surgeries (don’t ask) and I wear a contact on one eye during the day and read at night without the contact and with one lens of my reading glasses taped over. Still, I persist.
About good books - there's something for most everybody on my list, but because it’s National Women’s History month, I’ll start with women authors (although the one I treasure most is written by a man and illustrated by one too!) ***
Breaking records for sales in the US and internationally, Bonnie Garmus’ Lessons in Chemistry is refreshingly earnest, polished, funny, and thought-provoking.
Early in the book in which Elizabeth Zott, a redoubtable chemist thwarted at every turn by a hidebound 1950s establishment, is given career advice by a male colleague: “Don’t work the system. Outsmart it.” Zott, for her part, “didn’t like the notion that systems had to be outsmarted. Why couldn’t they just be smart in the first place?”
She makes it her mission to prove her smarts. But, as the author has said often, “the book isn’t anti-men, it’s anti-sexism.”
Despite its’ slightly girly pink cover, the guys will enjoy it too. We’ve all come a long way!
The Nature of Fragile Things by Susan Meissner is a gripping novel about the bonds of friendship and mother love, and the power of female solidarity. Sophie, a daring and inspiring heroine.
When the devastating earthquake of April 18, 1906, strikes, the book turns into a nail-biting thriller with a whopper of an ending that does not disappoint.
Everything She Touched – The Life of Ruth Asawa by Marilyn Chase recounts the incredible journey of the American sculptor who wielded imagination and hope in the face of intolerance and transformed everything she touched into art.
This compelling biography relates how the sculptor grew from a farmer’s daughter to a celebrated artist. She survived adolescence in the Japanese American internment camps, attended Black Mountain College art school, and went to develop her signature hanging-wire sculptures, create iconic urban installations, revolutionize arts education in San Francisco, battle lupus, and defy convention to nurture a multiracial family.
A beautifully written story of an extraordinary woman.
Shifting to books written by men that have inspired me in unexpected and enlightened ways:
The Creative Act: A Way of Being written by Rick Rubin, the legendary music producer (and so much more) spills over with practices for cultivating creativity and a more open mind.
Not what I expected at all – it’s less about music and other art forms and more about mind states: awareness, openness, discernment, attunement to nature, nonjudgmental listening, trusting in your own taste. I found it both mystical and practical, but most of all unexpectedly moving. A manual for living life!
I feel like I have been ushered out of the pandemic years and into a new life. I’m on my second read.
*** My biggest surprise through my one on-one off wonky cataracted-uncataracted eyes came when a slight 79-page book showed up in my mailbox. Written thoughtfully and joyfully by Roger Rosenblatt, award-winning author, it’s about cataracts and the blues – hence, the title Cataract Blues – Running the Keyboard. The author charts a journey that is as visual as it is poetic which on the surface is a collection of lyric fragments illustrated delightfully by the legendary Jules Feiffer. Reading and re-reading, I discovered a nuanced, thoughtful, and magical revelation about seeing, cataracts, mystery, the blues, insight, love, and memory.
I love this book so much.
Small and brilliant.
I just finished The Sweet Spot in time to meet the author at Friday’s book party! You can read about this endearing and hilarious book in my last blog post - Galentine's Day!
Hope you find something in my suggestions to hunker down with and really love! All the books are available on-line or better yet, order from your local bookstore!
Celebrating National Women's History - it's now an entire month. March 1-31, 2023. Interesting, this year's theme is "Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories."