In case you missed part 1 of my Best Books, you should read it. T’is the season to cozy up with a good book especially now that there is (even a little!) snow on the ground here in Toronto.
M Train by Patti Smith
If you didn’t already read Patti Smith’s Just Kids, go and read that as well. M Train is a book that she wrote following that one. I bought it s at McNally Jackson Books in New York City this past summer. We spent a long time in that shop and I was determined to choose something that was great. M Train called to me. I liked the feel of it in my hands. The dust jacket has a texture to it that made me not want to let go and the unevenly cut pages of the book pulled at my heartstrings. I have a weird relationship with paper and things made from it. This obsessions probably ignited with writing to various pen pals when I was a kid and then later while in high school working my part-time job at a print shop. M Train is a bit quieter than Just Kids but I loved it all the same. Patti writes of the cafes that she visited throughout her life, of her daily routines in New York City, of her dream of creating a home of her own. I read this book quickly and felt as though I was there with her, heading to the usual cafe each morning and sitting in the usual seat by that window. I often wonder how my life could have been different had I been born just a generation earlier. This is a memoir that reads like poetry and her words stir up all kinds of emotions.
“In time we often become one with those we once failed to understand.”
“I have stacks of Polaroids, each marking my own, that I sometimes spread out like tarot or baseball cards of an imagined celestial team. There is now one of Sylvia in the spring. It is very nice, but lacking the shimmering quality of the lost ones. Nothing can be truly replicated. Not a love, not a jewel, not a single line.”
“We want things we cannot have. We seek to reclaim a certain moment, sound, sensation. I want to hear my mother’s voice. I want to see my children as children. Hands small, feet swift. Everything changes. Boy grown, father dead, daughter taller than me, weeping from a bad dream. Please stay forever, I say to the things I know. Don’t go. Don’t grow.”
“Everything pours forth. Photographs their history. Books their words. Walls their sounds. The spirits rose like an ether that spun an arabesque and touched down gently as a benevolent mask.”
“Images have their way of dissolving and then abruptly returning, pulling along the joy and pain attached to them like tin cans rattling from the back of an old-fashioned wedding vehicle.”
“I believe in movement. I believe in that lighthearted balloon, the world. I believe in midnight and the hour of noon. But what else do I believe in? Sometimes everything. Sometimes nothing. It fluctuates like light flitting over a pond. I believe in life, which one day each of us shall lose. When we are young we think we won’t, that we are different.”
Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
I was given this book at a swag event for TIFF. Truthfully, I don’t usually like being gifted books, unless you are someone who knows me really well. I prefer choosing them myself (or rather, letting them choose me). I like wandering through book stores looking. And I like hearing friends rave about a good that moved them so much that I just have to read it as well. Having said that, there was something about this book that made me give it a go. At the time I was looking for something fiction to read. Something lighter as I had been reading some pretty heavy words. I needed something that I didn’t have to think about too much. As soon as I cracked the cover of Luckiest Girl Alive, I couldn’t stop reading it. I was hooked and I could just not predict where this story of a girl called Ani would take me. The sticker that I tried to peel from it’s cover tells me that a film adaptation is in the works and I totally believe that it will be a good one. (Although I likely won’t watch it because I have a thing about reading a book and then seeing the film adaptation – I don’t do it because I 100% believe that the book will always be better and that watching the film version will take away the magic of the written words.)
“But faith doesn’t mean that to me anymore. Now it means someone seeing something in you that you don’t, and not giving up until you see it too. I want that. I miss that.”
Alright, full disclosure: Frankie is technically not a book but… it’s really great. It’s an Australian magazine that is published six times a year. By now you may know that I love that Australia. After Canada and Mexico, it’s my third favourite place in the world. I first discovered Frankie while visiting Oz a few years ago. I immediately bought the current issue there and when I got home, I would look for it in every book shop. When I did find it, it was always an older issue so I finally bit the bullet and signed up for a subscription. When I see an issue sitting in my mailbox, I get pretty excited. Frankie is full of quirky stories and beautiful images of interesting people, places and general life things. To give you an idea, this most recent issue includes: a story on the Flower House in Detroit, a brief history of gin, an article about a woman who collects View-Masters (right?!) and a series of photos of what the fictional characters in The Baby-sitters Club books would wear (my favourite character was always Claudia). My favourite articles in each issue usually come from Rowena Grant-Foster and Eleanor Robertson. While I read their writing, my head continuously shakes yes and I wonder just how those two got into my head. Bonus: each issue comes with a two-month wall calendar and a beautiful print. (And if I have convinced you to check it out, I will let you borrow my past issues. Just ask!) One day I dream of writing for Frankie (Hi guys, I like you!).
What are you reading right now? What are you loving? Have you read any of my suggestions? What are your thoughts on them?