BOOKS CHECKED OUT | By JANET CLAPP
365 days. Long yet short. In the amount of time it takes for the earth to revolve around the sun, lots can happen. A popular theme in blogging and book publishing is to do something for a year and tell readers all about it.
Julie & Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen
By Julie Powell
This is the tale of a “secretary in Queens [who] risked her marriage and her sanity and her cats’ welfare to cook all 524 recipes in [Julia Child’s] Mastering the Art of French Cooking – a book that changed the lives of thousands of servantless American cooks – all in one year.” During that year Powell blogged about her experience. “There’s a dangerous, confessional thrill to opening up your eminently fascinating life and brain to the world at large, and the Internet makes it all so much faster and more breathless and exciting.” Although she is tempted at times to quit, the Julie/Julia Project gives meaning to her life. “Without the Project I was nothing but a secretary on a road to nowhere, drifting toward frosted hair and menthol addiction. And I’d never live up to the name I’d been born with, the name I shared with Julia.”
The Slippery Year: A Meditation on Happily Ever After
By Melanie Gideon
This collection of essays arranged by the month recounts Gideon’s life as a wife and as the mother of a nine-year-old boy. “‘The Slippery Year’ is the story of how I come to terms with my happily ever after. It’s a conversation — personal and universal, funny and heartrending — about all the things that matter: children, the Sunday paper, sisters, good-hair days, dogs, love, loss, the passage of time, and all the reasons to go on living even when the only thing we can be sure of is that one day it will all end.” With touching sincerity, Gideon shares the life lessons she learns about motherhood: “The only way I will be there to see him win is if I am willing to be there when he loses. Every single time he loses. My job is to not look away.” She also contemplates romance and marriage: “How the hell are we going to stay married? Well, not just stay married, but stay ‘I can’t believe it’s been 24 hours since I kissed you’ married. That is the question.”
A Year at the Races: Reflections on Horses, Humans, Love, Money, and Luck
By Jane Smiley
Smiley wanted to write about her year with her racehorse Wowie and trainer Alexis at the racetrack. “What exhilarated me was how the horse kept trying, how he was blocked here and blocked there and had to brake and go outside, but he kept coming anyway, digging in and trying hard and performing like a dedicated racehorse.” Going beyond Wowie’s story, she expounds upon the horses she has owned, horse psychology, and horse culture. “Though I esteem and admire horses in general and Thoroughbred horses in particular, my love is for my own horses. Love has moved me to observe them and to ponder what I have observed, to relate what I’ve observed to others, and to try to make something of each incident, or at least fit it into a pattern.”
Dinner with the Smileys: One Military Family, One Year of Heroes, and Lessons for a Lifetime
By Sarah Smiley
When Sarah Smiley’s husband is sent overseas for a yearlong military deployment, she and her three sons invite a variety of people — from old friends to Senator Susan Collins — to join them at their dinner table in Maine. “Dinnertime is usually the most difficult time for families separated by a military deployment. The service member’s empty seat makes the absence that much more vivid.” Smiley portrays the difficulty of acting as both parents while her husband is away. She must cope with the emotional behavior of boys who miss their father. Meanwhile life carries on. “Lindell had started kindergarten, so for the first time in nearly twelve years, I didn’t have someone home with me during the day. This new freedom came with mixed feelings. I missed shopping for groceries with Lindell’s chubby legs poking out of the seat at the back of the shopping cart.” The shared meals that began as a way to combat loneliness become special events. “Even when our dinners weren’t necessary (as in, we weren’t especially lonely or lacking for something to do), it still was incredibly enriching and invigorating to meet new people, learn about different ways of living….”
A Country Year: Living the Questions
By Sue Hubbell
In the Ozark Mountains of Missouri, Hubbell is a beekeeper and an observer of nature. “There is something really odd about swarms, and I notice that beekeepers don’t talk about it much, probably because it is the sort of thing we don’t feel comfortable about trying to put into words, something the other side of rationality.” Through the progression of the seasons she chronicles her discoveries regarding the natural world around her. Black-and-white drawings by Lauren Jarrett decorate the pages. Hubbell writes about trees, spiders, birds, people, and of course bees. “Over the past twelve years I have learned that a tree needs space to grow, that coyotes sing down by the creek in January, that I can drive a nail into oak only when it is green, that bees know more about making honey than I do, that love can become sadness, and that there are more questions than answers.”
The Rutland Free Library has the titles above, as well as others that take place over the period of a year, and also books that are timeless.
Janet Clapp is an adult services librarian at Rutland Free Library.