What’s a To-Feel list? Write down what you’d like to be feeling, and then make a To-Do list to get you to the desired feelings. My To-Feel list:
For me to feel excited I need something to look forward to. We’re in the midst of some heavy-duty recovery here, my husband enduring his joint-replacement winter, so we’re somewhat limited in immediate plans. I’m looking forward to teaching at the Come to Your Senses Writing Retreat in June, but that seems forever away. What about now, petulant me whines? Small plans—a wine bar date with a friend is a mini thing I can look forward to and has the value add of feeling connected. A matinee with buttery popcorn? Sure! A chilly hike? I’d love to.
A recent light hearted moment was delivering Thanksgiving dinner to a family in the teeth of RSV–baby, toddler, mom and dad. Such an easy thing to do and lifted their spirits and mine. Currently seeking another way I can be of service to welcome that light heart feeling. (FYI, I also went a little early and over the top with holiday lights outside my home…)
A side bar to this thought exercise, I now know what my new year resolution will be: make more friends—an action I can take that will help me feel all the feels on my list.
How about you all? I’d love to know your To-Feel list.
Ta Da!! In no specific order, I offer the Top Ten Books I enjoyed this year (+ their distant cousins, or books I’ve loved in the past—my own algorithm):
ALIVE AT THE END OF THE WORLD, Saeed Jones + CITIZEN, Claudia Rankine
Both of these books are unflinching. Both stare at the world with incredulity, anger, and humor. Both play with form, including poetry, storytelling and collage.
THE FAMILY CHAO, Lan Samantha Chang + LA ROSE, Louise Erdrich
Family is complicated, elastic, harmful and powerful. I know! I sound so trite, as if we don’t all have the scars to prove it. These two novels show us what family can endure.
LESSONS IN CHEMISTRY, Bonnie Garmus + FOREIGN AFFAIRS, Alison Lurie
What book is not uplifted by a full-throated dog? Both novels have fantastic protagonists as well as a delightful serving of unforgettable secondary characters. Really joyful, funny, and smart.
BODY WORK, Melissa Febos + THINGS I DON’T WANT TO KNOW, Deborah Levy
Febos and Levy are tremendous thinkers, and both books reveal and challenge expectations and limits society places on women. How do we continue to love ourselves and demand respect in a world that undermines women?
LOVE IN CASE OF EMERGENCY, Daniela Krien + SUNSTROKE, Tessa Hadley
Short stories (the first book is linked) about love, young children, fidelity and sexual politics. Krien is German, Hadley is British, just fyi.
HORSE, Geraldine Brooks + GREAT CIRCLE, Maggie Shipstead
Big, expansive novels that elegantly shift between the present and the distant past, plus teach the reader about something new, the relationship between slavery and horse racing in one, and circumnavigation of the globe by small plane in the other.
GIRLS’ GUIDE TO HUNTING AND FISHING, Melissa Bank + VICTORY OVER JAPAN, Ellen Gilchrist
Humor, foibles of young women learning about love, distinctive voices, loss, death, and coming of age? Both of these story collections have it all. And, both of them made me want to be a writer.
CRANE WIFE, CJ Hauser + HOW TO BE A WOMAN, Caitlin Moran + I FEEL BAD ABOUT MY NECK, Nora Ephron + DIALOGUES WITH RISING TIDES, Kelli Russell Agodon
The world is sometimes an asshole! And, we can laugh about it, learn from it, and continue to thrive. Boundaries are sexy! These are a few of the things I learned from these four books.
Just a quick reminder, I’ve created a read.write.eat. Bookshop Store, where you can find many of the books I’ve recommend in the newsletter.
As I mentioned we are deep in “getting well” territory here at chez Serber. My terrific family sent us a game for entertainment as we’re spending a lot of time indoors…together.
WHERE SHOULD WE BEGIN, from the couple’s therapist, Esther Perel, is one of those ask deep questions to get to know your friends, partners, and family better. Okay, not going to lie, they scare the crap out of me. I’m always afraid I will reveal too much and upset someone, or learn too much and have to hide how upset I feel. (Okay, we played it and it was a blast, no one was harmed.)
But here is the value add: what a tremendous writing tool. There are a bazillion cards in the box, all of which can help you delve into character and get things interesting on the page. For example:
- I hope you never find out about the time…
- I lose all willpower when it comes to…
- The worst dinner party I’ve ever attended…
- A grudge I’ve been holding on to…
- I’ll never forget about the time I lied…
Of course, as a writing tool you can replace the “I” with a character name, or if you’re writing memoir, keep it about you. Do you know a writer who needs a wonderful holiday gift? This could be perfect.
- Peel and dice 2 rutabagas to about ½ inch cubes. Toss with olive oil and roast at 400 degrees until they are just tender. (don’t over cook them!)
- While the rutabagas are in the oven, dice one medium shallot and sauté with a glug of olive oil in a large cast iron pan.
- Add about 1 pound of freshly washed spinach, it’s okay if it has water clinging to the leaves but try to shake most of the droplets off before cooking.
- Do not cook all the way. You want some spinach wilted and some barely wilted. Not raw, just as if the spinach had a fling with the hot pan.
- Toast ½ cup of walnuts in the hot oven. Be careful and attentive, you don’t want to burn them, they’re expensive and burnt walnuts are terribly bitter.
- Arrange on a platter the bed of spinach, the roasted rutabagas, crumbled feta (the freshest you can find, I like sheep’s milk), and the toasted walnuts. Splash with a tiny bit of sherry vinegar
Feel free to use beets, which I have done with great success, as well as turnips. If you do switch up the root vegetable, include the beet and/or turnip greens with the spinach. Delicious and I swear the meal is making my husband heal more swiftly.
A little program note: I’ve been writing and sharing what I love for nearly 3 years! I love it and many of you write to let me know how much you enjoy my thoughts and recommendations, and for that I am truly grateful. Honestly, it makes my day to hear from readers. Also, it takes time and consideration to put my thoughts together twice a month. Maybe you’d like to show appreciation buy clicking below: