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Posts from the ‘what we’re reading’ Category

Keeping it classic

That’s what Town & Country is good at. The July/August issue that I found in my mailbox and hauled to the beach with me is a good one with lots of fun factoids and inspiration. I learned where the prep classics boat shoes and stripes come from, and I got inspired to keep my white jeans out in the fall.

On the shopping list: chunky knits (coveting this Reiss sweater) and a membership to Drybar so my hair looks like that everyday.

Photos and text courtesy of Town & Country magazine (Stripetease article by Darrell Hartman) 

Bestselling sisters

We wish we could say in some capacity that the title is referring to us. It’s not (yet), but recently I read two books in a row about sisters, of both the sibling and friend kind, and their relationships. Fitting for us, no?

The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown is about three sisters who grew up in a small Ohio college town, daughters of a Shakespeare professor (hence the title). They all went different ways in adulthood, but come together somewhat tempestuously when their mother is diagnosed with breast cancer. As they take care of their mother, they learn how to take care of one another, despite how they each are. Overall, I really enjoyed the book. Some parts peeved me, like how one sister, Bianca, moved to NYC after college, desperate to escape their small-town Ohio life, and NYC is portrayed like this big, bad wolf that makes women superficial and unfulfilled. Bianca has a “Confessions of a Shopaholic” kind of consumerism nightmare story. That aside, I did my usual thing where I picked out some of my favorite quotes:

Dating criteria (my favorite): “Because despite his money and his looks and all the good-on-paper attributes he possessed, he was not a reader, and, well, let’s just say that is the sort of nonsense up with which we will not put.”

Words to live by: “You get older and you learn there is one sentence, just four words long, and if you can say it to yourself it offers more comfort than almost any other… At least I tried.”

On settling down: “Long ago she had thought bravery equaled wandering, the power was in the journey. Now she knew that, for her, it took no courage to leave; strength came from returning. Strength lay in staying.”

On siblings: “We’re all exactly alike you know,” said Cordy. “Sure. In the way that we’re completely different,” said Rose.

With Alexis Bledel and Blake Lively in the back of my mind, I picked up the last book in the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, Sisterhood Everlasting. I would only read this if you saw the movie or read the other books. It’s an okay story, I really just wanted to see how it ended, but I found the spiritual connection between all these sisters a little over the top. Either I don’t value my friends enough, or I’m a big cynic. Or both.  The best thing about this book was that instead of chapters, there were contextual quotes to divide the text. There were some real gems in there that I hadn’t heard before from E.E. Cummings, Churchill and others, and I’m a sucker for well-phrased descriptions and sound bites of wisdom. Here are some others from the author that caught my eye:

On snail mail: “It was a blessing and a curse of handwritten letters, that unlike mail, you couldn’t obsessively reread what you’d written after you’d sent it. You couldn’t attempt to unsend it. Once you’d sent it, it was gone. It was an object that no longer belonged to you, but belonged to your recipient to do with what he would. You tended to remember the feeling of what you’d said more than the words.”

For a good chuckle because it’s true: “Heathrow airport was the place where you slept by the window and brushed your teeth in the restroom and felt like a complete asshole.”

Books make a home

We grew up being surrounded by books on every subject you could think of. In every move we have ever made, whether it’s across continents or into dorm rooms, the packing and transporting of books has been a labor of love. We were raised to treat books with respect, make time to read them, and most importantly, judge those who don’t.

For both of us, books are so important that their presence has become an integral part of our decorating sense (did you see our post on library ladders?). Their texture, colors, and different sizes turn into a wallpaper that everything else sits on. The subjects of our collections reflect what we’re interested in and what inspires us. Spend minutes looking through our shelves and you can get a pretty accurate assessment of who we are. I have amassed tomes about slavery and African-American history, topped off with solid Ernest Hemingway, Henry James, and Alan Paton collections. My sister’s collection focuses on Europe and languages with Nancy Mitford and Graham Greene sitting alongside Steven Pinker and Adam Gopnik.

While spending a lovely afternoon together we stopped at terrain and found Books Make a Home by Damian Thompson. It brought together all the regard we have for books in the home and ideas of using them to bring warmth, personality and intelligence into every space.

Reading and taking it in

Everyone has their favorite magazine subject matter. Some prefer fashion and clothes. Some love decorating and household ideas. I love food. I love to look at images of spacious kitchens with fresh ingredients and think about all sorts of things I would serve to my friends if I had the time and the space.

It isn’t often that a magazine makes me stop, but seeing Kinfolk on the counter of Williams-Sonoma the other week left me curious. Not curious enough to cough up almost ten dollars but enough to look at their website, become intrigued and emotional by the manifesto video.


So many things that I read are focused on eating occasions that are formal or meant to happen once a year for a holiday. What about all the gatherings we host or attend that are meaningful for their simplicity and because they were organized on the fly? Clearly the artists that created this pub had a very unique vision that involves having special moments over food with people that you don’t necessarily know very well. I find that a little odd because in my mind sharing a meal with anyone is a rather intimate activity, particularly if I have taken the time to prepare the meal myself. But what I can appreciate in the overall message is the desire to make things less complicated.

The images in Kinfolk were like a mental massage reminding you of all the little details that make meal preparation an almost therapeautic activity and that, while the details of table settings are important, what matters most is a meal that leaves one satisfied and conversation that leaves one happy.

photo source: Kinfolk magazine

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