“The shelf was filled with books that were hard to read, that could devastate and remake one's soul, and that, when they were finished, had a kick like a mule.”

Reverb prompt 3: What books did you read?

Winter's Tale, Mark Helprin

(Favorite this year, hands down, just fucking gorgeous beyond words. Also where the title quote comes from.)

“The many lights that shone through the misty summer air also seemed to be fires, and everything below her appeared to be alight. And yet the city was not strangled in its own smoke. It was alive, and she wanted to know it, even if it meant the risk of losing herself within it”

"No one ever said that you would live to see the repercussions of everything you do, or that you have guarantees, or that you are not obliged to wander in the dark, or that everything will be proved to you and neatly verified like something in science. Nothing is: at least nothing that is worthwhile."

"Small scenes can be so beautiful that they change a man forever."

"Manhattan, A high narrow kingdom as hopeful as any that ever was, burst upon him full force, a great and imperfect steel tressed palace of a hundred million chambers, many-tiered gardens, pools, passages, and ramparts above its rivers. Built upon an island from which bridges stretched to other islands and to the mainland, the palace of a thousand tall towers was undefended. It took in nearly all who wished to enter, being so much larger than anything else that it could not ever be conquered but only visited by force. Newcomers, invaders, and the inhabitants themselves were so confused by its multiplicity, variety, vanity, size, brutality, and grace, that they lost sight of what it was. It was, for sure, one simple structure, busily divided, lovely and pleasing, and extraordinary hive of the imagination, the greatest house ever built."

The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy

(I just finished rereading this book for the first time since I was 18. Second favorite I've read this year, again, because the prose is just so stunning.)

“...the secret of the Great Stories is that they have no secrets. The Great Stories are the ones you have heard and want to hear again. The ones you can enter anywhere and inhabit comfortably. They don’t deceive you with thrills and trick endings. They don’t surprise you with the unforeseen. They are as familiar as the house you live in. Or the smell of your lover’s skin. You know how they end, yet you listen as though you don’t. In the way that although you know that one day you will die, you live as though you won’t. In the Great Stories you know who lives, who dies, who finds love, who doesn’t. And yet you want to know again.

“And the air was full of Thoughts and Things to Say. But at times like these, only the Small Things are ever said. Big Things lurk unsaid inside.”

“Perhaps it's true that things can change in a day. That a few dozen hours can affect the outcome of whole lifetimes. And that when they do, those few dozen hours, like the salvaged remains of a burned house---the charred clock, the singed photograph, the scorched furniture---must be resurrected from the ruins and examined. Preserved. Accounted for. Little events, ordinary things, smashed and reconstitutred. Imbued with new meaning. Suddenly they become the bleached bones of a story.”

Garlic & Saphires, Ruth Reichl

(Obviously, love her, love her books)

"While cooking demands your entire attention, it also rewards you with endlessly sensual pleasures. The sound of water skittering across leaves of lettuce. The thump of a knife against watermelon, and the cool summer scent the fruit releases as it falls open to reveal its deep red heart. The seductive softness of chocolate beginning to melt from solid to liquid. The tug of sauce against the spoon when it thickens in the pan, and the lovely lightness of Parmesan drifting from the grater in gossamer flakes. Time slows down in the kitchen, offering up an entire universe of small satisfactions."

The Kitchen Daughter, Jael McHenry

(Food and grief, sweet and sorrowful and for anyone that finds comfort in cooking)

Just a small rip. At first it looks accidental, but everyone on a bench has a ribbon, and a tear in it. It can’t all be accident… It seems such the right expression of grief. I am sad, so in whatever small way I can, I will tear myself apart."

“I want them to bite into a cookie, and think of me, and smile. Food is love. Food has a power."

 "The rich, wet texture of melting chocolate. The way good aged goat cheese coats your tongue. The silky feel of pasta dough when it's been pressed and rested just enough. How the scent of onions changes, over an hour, from raw to mellow, sharp to sweet, and all that even without tasting. The simplest magic: how heat transforms.”

Little Bee, Chris Cleave

(heartbreaking and lovely)

“Life is extremely short and you cannot dance to current affairs.”

“I could not stop talking because now I had started my story, it wanted to be finished. We cannot choose where to start and stop. Our stories are the tellers of us.”

More books I read:

As Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child and Avis Devoto, Joan Reardon

Highly, highly recommend. Julia Child was a pretty fantastic woman and these letters show all the work and struggle that went into changing the landscape of American cooking as well as showing the development of an amazing friendship.

A Dance with Dragons, George R. R. Martin

Obviously.

Summer Sisters, Judy Bloom

Written for adults but in the same language and style of the Judy Bloom of my childhood. Love and loss and growing older.

Wildwood, Colin Meloy

Fun young adult book from the lead singer of the Decemberists. Very much in the vein of "A Series of Unfortunate Events". I'm looking forward to the rest of the series.

The Help, Kathryn Stockett

This is maybe another "obviously" but I didn't actually see the movie. I meant to and just didn't get around to it. It's actually a really great book. Not going to lie, I cried at times.