This past weekend, I lit my first fire, enjoyed a cup of tea and read a new cookbook cover to cover. Pure bliss. Reading for me is a spiritual discipline. I know that may sound like an oxymoron, but books inspire, counsel, promote inner calmness, encourage reflection, foster my creativity and plain give me joy! Similar to my music tastes, I read everything from poetry to romance novels, to historical fiction, to spiritual autobiographies, to novels, to cookbooks. Books have saved me in the dark valleys of my life. I probably read a book a week during the pandemic. Ten years ago, if I purchased a book at Parnassus, come hell or high water, I was going to finish it. Now, the book gets fifty pages to hook me and then I move on. My Fall Bookstack includes books that I have read and enjoyed and those I’m giddy to open. Please share some of your recent favorites!
I invite you to visit the shelves of my Bookstack section on my blog for lots of other great suggestions!
Barbara Brown Taylor is my spiritual mentor. She just doesn’t know it! Two weeks ago, I pulled An Altar in the World, back off the shelf. I have probably read this book five times! Finding my spiritual grounding and prayer life during the pandemic was a struggle. I decided to return to spiritual disciplines and books that have nourished me in the past. Taylor encourages us to look for altars and signs of God in our ordinary lives. Her book is a practical guide for finding the holy in the regular ministrations of our lives.
My friends Andy and Alexis Sweet recommended The Overstory to me this summer. I am late to the party. Powers won the Pulitzer Prize for this book! He is known for his bold and beautiful writing and subject matter. The Overstory is a novel that follows the lives of nine characters and their relationship with trees. Narratives of heartbreak and salvation run throughout. Powers uses art to speak to the major issues of our day. He has just released a new novel, Bewilderment.
First, I love a series. I picked up the first one in the Lester series in the airport this summer and just finished the final one. You would call these, “beach reads.” I am obsessed with the history of Paris, but especially during her years of German occupation. Living in Paris for three years and visiting often over the last twenty years, I cannot wrap my head around what it must have been like when the City of Light was unmercifully overtaken by Hitler and the Nazi regime. I am especially captivated by the inspiring narratives, both fiction and non-fiction, of female-led French Resistance. Lester has mastered historical fiction with a little romance.
I was introduced to Rebekah Peppler by Lise, my friend and french chef extroidinaire! Lise knew I would love how Rebekah captures soulful living in France. Rebekah is an American food writer who picked up and moved to Paris. The book is born from impromptu gatherings in her Paris apartment where she developed a repertoire of popular French dishes. I love the recipes, but especially the beautiful photography! I am excited to rift her Green Shakshuka and daube de boeuf!
A Gentleman in Moscow was one of my all-time favorite novels! Amor Towles is on my bucket list to meet. He has this gift for bringing to life characters in mind, body and spirit. His creative casts sticks with you long after the book has closed. I am excited to read The Lincoln Highway. Many authors I love tout it as his literary opus!
The only word to describe this cookbook is lush! I along with millions follow Tieghan on Instagram. Her recipes are creative, beautiful to the eye, and always delicious. She is a culinary artist. This would be a fun gift for a friend.
This was the number one read in Europe during the pandemic and a record bestseller in France! I love a story where the protagonist suffers a terrific defeat that will surely take them down, and somehow they find their way back to the light. Perrin’s lead is Violette Toussaint, a caretaker at a local cemetery in France. She comes to the unusual position with the help of a “savior” character who takes her in after a tragedy. The tale is full of interesting, quirky French characters who are trying their best to do this curious, often heart-breaking, sometimes redemptive human spiritual journey. Perrin beautifully articulates how incredibly complex and rich are our inner and exterior lives. This book is still living in me!
This historical novel and the following Accursed Kings series is legendary in France. George R.R. Martin who wrote the forward said it was inspiration for his epic Game of Thrones series. The difference is Druron’s story and characters are real! The Iron King follows the story of the French King Phillip the Fair, his wild reign and wilder family. There is scandal, murder, and intrigue. Funny enough, my family is mentioned in the book (The Courtenay’s). The book opens with the Iron King’s curse on the Grand Master of the Knights Templars and how this curse threatens to bring the dynasty down. My husband just started it! I’ll keep you posted.
On a side note, the author Maurice Druron was a French Resistance hero, a Knight of the British Empire and a holder of the Grand Croix de la Legion de Honneur. He is beloved in France and G.B. George R.R. Martin said Druon is “France’s best historical novelist since Alexandre Dumas.”
I am a fan of all of Ladinsky’s art. What a title!!! His creative words imagining God speaking to the soul are beautiful. He reminds us that God is close and always encouraging us!
Here are a couple:
In the morning
When I began t o wake,
It happened again—
That You, Beloved,
Had stood over me all night
That as soon as I began to stir
You put your lips on my forehead
And lit a Holy Lamp
Inside my heart.
I rarely let the word “No” escape
From my mouth
Because it is so plain to my soul
That God has shouted, “Yes! Yes! Yes!”
To every luminous movement in Existence.
Here’s to a Holy Lamp and saying Yes!!