I like all of the recommendations that go on this time of year. It’s fun to read about products that others have fallen in love with. I’d like to do a list of my own, but being a working girl, I don’t do much cooking or homemaking. I’m not a techno-geek, nor do I have a wide, unique range of musical tastes. But, there are two things I do know - books and make up. On these I can talk at length.
Makeup is such a personal thing. I can’t guarantee that you will love what I love. Every girl has to find her own regime. But I will say this – Estee Lauder's Idealist is the best thing I’ve ever done for my skin; Laura Mercier lipstick is worth every penny, and I would die without Clinique’s gentle eye makeup remover every night.
Books are just as personal as makeup, really. Still, I feel more confident making this list. Here are some that I’ve read over the last few years that have stuck with me.
1. “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – EVERYONE should read A Christmas Carol. I don’t care how many times you’ve seen the movie/musical/play, it has to be read. I couldn’t believe how much was in the book the first time I read it, or how powerful its message is. Dickens creates scenes, thoughts, feelings that can’t be translated into a movie. Read the book.
2. “Atonement” by Ian McEwan. This story isn’t nearly as happy as A Christmas Carol. It's sad, actually, but a great reading experience. It’s about a wealthy family in England in the 1930s, and the son of their housekeeper, Robbie. The family has a son and two daughters, Cecilia and Briony. Cecilia and Robbie are in love, and just beginning their relationship. Briony witnesses a crime, and accuses Robbie. The events of this one night change all three lives irrevocably. What I love about this story is how it sunk into my head and wouldn’t leave me alone. I thought about it for weeks. I still think about it sometimes. The writing is great, and the characters, especially Briony, are so deeply developed. A very good read.
3. “Gilead” by Marilynne Robinson. This is some of the most beautiful writing I’ve ever read. It’s about an old man who is ill and doesn’t expect to live much longer. He married later in life, and has a young son, and he’s writing out his life’s experiences, and those of his own parents and grandparents, for his son. He wants his son to know who he is. What struck me most about this book is all of the life lessons, written in simple sentences or paragraphs, that show a wisdom that only years and years of life could give. On almost every page I read something that I wanted to share with someone. It’s brilliant.
4. “These is my Words, the Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine”, by Nancy Turner. This book is more light-hearted than the other two. I really like books that are written in diary form. The first person narrative keeps the story moving. And I love pioneer, old west settlers stories. Sarah Prine and her family are settlers near Tucson, AZ. There’s all kinds of old west action going on. And, it’s a love story, one of the best I’ve read in years. Don’t let the title throw you. I saw this on the shelf at the store for years and didn’t pick it up because of the title, “These is”? That’s not right. But enough people told me that they loved it to make me finally give it a try, and I’m very glad I did (don’t worry, the story isn’t written with that kind of grammer).
5. “Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Bronte. There has to be at least one classic on this list, other than “A Christmas Carol”. I bet that you all have an idea of what Jane Eyre is about – a young girl is hired by a rich English gentleman to be a governess to his ward. The girl and the gentleman fall in love, but there are dark secrets in his past that threaten their happiness. It’s so romantic. Really. I love it. When Melody and I were in London we went to the British Library to see their collection of old documents, and the original hand-written manuscript of Jane Eyre was there. It was so exciting. One of the best days of my life. There are a lot of good movie versions; the best was done by the BBC just a few years ago. But read the book first. Always read the book first – words to live by.
That’s enough for now. I hope you see something here that catches your interest, and if you read it, I hope you like it. Some might make good gifts too!