Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Read This, Watch That – Diversions for the Snowstorm

As we prepare for what looks to be a second whopper snowstorm in Philly forget milk and eggs, think books and movies. Food can’t compete with entertainment for my affection and until an omelet takes the lead in a romantic comedy that’s not going to change. So here are my suggestions for sustenance during this next storm. Now get out there and clear the shelves of your local bookstore!



  • The Best Day, The Worst Day by Donald Hall – Hall recounts the illness that claimed the life of his wife, Jane Kenyon, but does it in a way that is respectful and beautiful. The structure alternates by chapters between the story of Hall and Kenyon’s meeting and falling in love and her declining health. The amazing part considering the subject matter is that this book never gets maudlin. Plus Hall’s love for his wife is never more dazzling than in her final days. The reader is left feeling glad to have experienced Jane Kenyon through her husband’s eyes.
  • Safekeeping by Abigail Thomas – If I could marry a book, I’d marry this one. Written in short vignettes it may be difficult at first to understand how they are linked together but stick with Safekeeping and you will be awesomely rewarded. Abigail Thomas makes even the most mundane meaningful as she examines her life, mistakes and all, and in the process redeems it.
  • Here if You Need Me by Kate Braestrup – I am jealous of those cracking the spine of this book for the first time. Braestrup is a natural storyteller and infuses the spiritual into her tales without clunking readers over the head with it. Her life as a Chaplin to the Maine Game Wardens in the wake of her husband’s death offers an array of incredible stories but it is in how she shares them that readers find something to hold on to.
All three of these books make for great winter reading being set in New Hampshire, New York, and Maine respectively!


Movies on DVD:

  • 500 Days of Summer – If you haven’t seen it you’re missing the quirkiest, most innovative, human and poignant romantic comedy I’ve ever seen. Watch it!
  • Julie & Julia – Don’t wrinkle your nose, there’s a good reason Meryl Streep got an Oscar nod for this role. It is so refreshing to watch a movie where the female leads are not alternately chasing and crying over men. Streep infuses the film with Julia’s joy and Amy Adams leaves you feeling that your next adventure is right around the corner. Just make sure you have enough food in the house because you’ll feel inspired to cook (and eat!) after this movie.
  • The Reader – Yes, as you surely know the subject matter is heavy. It’s not a feel good film but it is a film that will make you think. And you’ll think about it long after you see it. The story and the performances, especially Kate Winslet’s, will haunt you with questions about love, fear, and the jagged edges of right and wrong.

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