1. How To Celebrate Everything by Jenny Rosenstrach Cookbooks might be my favorite gift. I hardly ever buy them for myself, considering I'm less than skilled in the kitchen, which makes them special. Something about leafing through them and imaging dinner parties is simply therapeutic for me. I was so excited to receive this book from my aunt for my birthday this year. Who knows if I'll ever try a recipe, honestly. Regardless, I loved learning about Jenny's traditions and the way she and her husband have honored where they've come from for their children.
2. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalan I've had this book for a year, putting off reading for fear not of its quality but because of its emotional implications. One Thursday night, I decided to test it out and didn't leave my room until it was finished. Overall, the medical terminology is easy to digest but I'm really only capable of using the right side of my brain, so I was lost in parts. Reading about cancer, about death, about trials, really can be hard, but I think it's really important. It imparts empathy and created the space for some really good conversations. Not my favorite book, but I was sobbing as I finished the last chapter.
3. Cinder by Susan Stewart On the night of my birthday, Ruby and I decided on our routine of stopping into Three Lives before dinner at Rosemary's. I swear we've had that night a dozen times. While browsing the poetry section, I recognized Graywolf Press's (another obsession to blame on Rubes) latest poetry collection. I bought the book and started it during my layover in Chicago on the way back to Iowa. Cinder is really unlike any poetry I've read before. On a side note, the size of the book is really unique, which might sound crazy to an average person, but book lovers know what I mean.
4. Where You Once Belonged by Kent Haruf This book was recommended to me via Payton Turner of Girls At Library. If you haven't already, fall in love with the site that brims with interesting recommendations and interviews of substance. Any way, Where You Once Belonged was my first introduction to Kent Haruf and I'm looking forward to reading more. The novel was gripping from the first chapter to the last page. If you've recently enjoyed the popular thrillers like Gone Girl, this book offers the same amount of thrill but with deeper themes.
5. Sophie's Choice by William Styron I'm sure everyone has those classics they've put off for years and years with every intention to read eventually. I can't be the only one who stockpiles the greats in hopes of reaching for them, but instead always pick the trendy novel with a good cover. If any season was best suited for settling in with a 500+ word novel, winter is it. I almost forced myself into starting Sophie's Choice after finishing Reading My Father earlier this year. While at times, I felt the story was a bit more graphic or drawn out than I would have preferred, I really loved this book. Knowing about Sytron as a man and father really enhanced my reading experience, as will finally being able to watch Meryl Streep's Oscar winning portrayal of Sophie.