bookshelf: “the descendants” by kaui hart hemmings

The Descendants Kaui Hart HemmingsI’m sure most of you remember all of the 2011 Oscar buzz surrounding screenwriter/director Alexander Payne’s film adaptation of Kaui Hart Hemmings’ novel, The Descendants. George Clooney gave an understated but emotionally powerful performance as the novel’s protagonist, Matt King, and up-and-comer Shailene Woodley left her mark with an award-nominated performance as Clooney’s troubled daughter turned partner in crime, Alexandra.

I’d avoided seeing the movie, despite all of the acclaim, because I really wanted to get my hands on Hemmings’ original work first. I picked it up over the long weekend and could not put it down! Needless to say, a few hours later I’d finished the book—but it’s still all I can think about days later. Hemmings creates characters that stay with you. Their tragedies are so universal, so relatable, and when developed against the backdrop of Hawaiian paradise, this story offers an insightful, cleverly constructed reminder that the events, relationships, and misfortunes that shape our lives shape all of us, every human, no matter who we are or where we are. And, maybe more importantly, their triumphs are often so subtle and so seemingly insignificant that Hemmings successfully relays that exact message: that in trying times, it is often those minor improvements and those fleeting reminders of joy or beauty in the world that keep our days rolling forward. This is such a beautiful read—often harsh but always warm, honest, and even funny.

j.

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bookshelf: “the history of love” by nicole krauss

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This past weekend was one of those perfect, sunny, almost-summer, stay-at-home weekends that, every once in a while, you just crave. It has been a hectic few months with plenty of travel for work, trips to visit friends, drives up north to visit family, social engagements and volunteer commitments here at home, and as much as I love all of these things—and actually prefer thar my weeks and weekends be full of these things 99% of the time—I was ready for a low-key weekend at the apartment. I caught up on chores; I took my time at the gym; I did some cooking; I ran errands; and I spent hours sitting on my balcony with a drink soaking up the beautiful May sunshine and finally finished reading Nicole Krauss’ absolutely stunning novel, The History of Love.

Friends of mine can’t stop talking about this book, with many of them claiming it’s one of their all-time favourites, and I actually picked up a copy years ago just to see what all of the fuss was about. Like so many of the books I buy, this one has been sitting untouched on my overflowing bookshelf for far too long. I turned to it at long last a couple of weeks ago and, though it was a little slow to start, soon became entranced by Krauss’ intricate, poetic writing style and the heartbreaking but charming characters around which she’s created this tale. The History of Love is about many things: writing, art, immigration, family, friendship, heartache, loss, grief, time, life, death, and, of course, the beauty and the tragedy of falling in love and, ultimately, learning to let love go.

It takes some time to figure out what Krauss is trying to do, but once she hooks you, you’ll marvel at the heart and humanity at the core of each of her characters and the true delicacy with which she’s built their stories.

j.

bookshelf: “grace: a memoir” by grace coddington

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I started this year off on a very fashionable note by picking up a copy of Grace, the recently released memoir of Vogue magazine’s iconic Creative Director, Grace Coddington. After a friend recommended that I watch The September Issue, a fascinating documentary on American Vogue’s ever-allusive Editor-in-Chief, Anna Wintour (if you’ve never seen it, check it out!), I became a little obsessed with the fiery, British redhead responsible for some of Vogue’s most stunning editorials.

Grace is exactly what you’d expect of Ms. Coddington—honest, witty, creative, and visually beautiful.

j.

getting organized.

A large part of starting this blog has to do with a promise I made to myself that I would make more time for writing this year; I care less about the type of writing it is and the topic I am writing about and more about the fact that I am making it a priority. And as much as I’d love to approach the blog with reckless abandon, posting every fun thing I come across or any random idea that pops into my head (a la Tumblr, Pinterest, StumbleUpon …you get the idea), the planner in me just couldn’t get away with it. So, I wanted to commit to a few key topics that seem most relevant to my life and that I knew I would be excited to write about. I figured if I could organize a handful of feature posts, it would be easier to commit to writing about the things I enjoy most, and commit to doing it often.

So, here they are. Some fun things to look forward to:

turntable: New musical discoveries and old favourites.

bookshelf: Books I’ve read. Books I want to read. Books worth reading. (Another promise I made to myself for 2013 is that I would read more, so hopefully this will help me stay on track!)

beauty all around: It could be a really beautiful photo I saw, or a touching story I read somewhere, or a really great vintage shop I tracked down on a random Saturday afternoon. I think it’s important to remind yourself that amazing things and amazing people are everywhere if you look for them.

glam squad: I enjoy yoga pants and a hoodie as much as the next girl, but I can also appreciate the creative genius that goes into a truly stellar runway show. I think breaking the bank in the name of fashion is completely ridiculous (sorry, die-hards!) but my heart still goes pitter-patter over all of the pretty things that compose a really killer look.

domestic goddess: Recipes either created or conquered. (Or that end up looking like this.)

musings: Let’s be honest—I basically needed a category for the things that don’t fit into any other category. Just some thoughts on some things.

on a serious note: For the days when musings don’t seem to be enough.

I like where this is going. This feels good.

j.