The ground rules I’m going to start with: no self-help books or romance novels. I just don’t want to discuss the awkward phrases and ripping bustiers of the romance novels, and self-help books…yeah, I think those should probably be read solo.
The next question becomes logisitcal. My research points to three obvious ways to faciliate the book club. I can write posts/use surveys/comment section to select and discuss books, or if we want to get a little more sophisisticated we can form a Facebook group or Goodreads group. There are pros and cons to each solution, so I’ll let popular opinion win. (I’d personally lean towards a Facebook or Goodreads group myself).
And that gets us to…selecting books. For the first month I think I’ll pick a few and let everyone vote, and then after that we can decide how we want to pick books. The two easiest ways are to eiethr have a nominating time frame when everyone nominates a few books, and then we select 6 (going 6 months out) or each member gets assigned a month and that month they get to pick a book. Let me know what you think about those ideas or if you have another.
For the first month, here are the books that would be at the top of my nomination list. All links are to Amazon (affiliate links) and the synopsis are also from Amazon. And if I’m missing something awesome that you think should be part of the vote, let me know!
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
Composed with the skills of a master, The Goldfinch is a haunted odyssey through present day America and a drama of enthralling force and acuity. It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a thirteen-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don’t know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art. As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love-and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle. The Goldfinch is a novel of shocking narrative energy and power. It combines unforgettably vivid characters, mesmerizing language, and breathtaking suspense, while plumbing with a philosopher’s calm the deepest mysteries of love, identity, and art. It is a beautiful, stay-up-all-night and tell-all-your-friends triumph, an old-fashioned story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the ruthless machinations of fate.
The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes
The girls who wouldn’t die hunts the killer who shouldn’t exist. Harper Curtis is a killer who stepped out of the past. Kirby Mazrachi is the girl who was never meant to have a future. Kirby is the last shining girl, one of the bright young women, burning with potential, whose lives Harper is destined to snuff out after he stumbles on a House in Depression-era Chicago that opens on to other times. At the urging of the House, Harper inserts himself into the lives of the shining girls, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. He’s the ultimate hunter, vanishing into another time after each murder, untraceable-until one of his victims survives. Determined to bring her would-be killer to justice, Kirby joins the Chicago Sun-Times to work with the ex-homicide reporter, Dan Velasquez, who covered her case. Soon Kirby finds herself closing in on the impossible truth . . . The Shining Girls is a masterful twist on the serial killer tale: a violent quantum leap featuring a memorable and appealing heroine in pursuit of a deadly criminal.
Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin
“Utterly extraordinary . . . A piercing sense of the beautiful arising from narrative and emotional fantasy is everywhere alive in the novel . . . Not for some time have I read a work as funny, thoughtful, passionate or large-souled . . . I find myself nervous, to a degree I don’t recall in my past as a reviewer, about failing the work, inadequately displaying its brilliance.” – Benjamin DeMott, New York Times Book Review. Mark Helprin’s masterpiece will transport you to New York of the Belle Epoque, to a city clarified by a siege of unprecedented snows. One winter night, Peter Lake – master mechanic and second-storey man – attempts to rob a fortress-like mansion on the Upper West Side. Though he thinks it is empty, the daughter of the house is home. Thus begins the affair between a middle-aged Irish burglar and Beverly Penn, a young girl dying of consumption. It is a love so powerful that Peter Lake, a simple and uneducated man, will be driven to stop time and bring back the dead. His great struggle is one of the most beautiful and extraordinary stories of American literature.
Oh Gracie. You are a year old which just seems beyond surreal. How did we get here? We muddled through it together, the three of the us and the dog, with a lot of learning and figuring it all out. Looking back your Dad and I whole heartedly agree there year was marked by a lot of good memories. You were so small when you were born- you fit on your Dad’s arm between his palm and his elbow- and now we watch you carefully maneuver yourself around the room, carrying toys, crawling to look under the couch, chasing the dog down the hallway. You are so big and learning new things every day, which is a total joy for your parents to watch.
You are pretty much impossible to photograph these days, a busy bee who heads straight for the camera (and photographer) which is both flattering and makes me shake my head. If you ever wonder why your toddler years were not well photographed, please know it was because of your total enthusiasm for life and your desire to never sit still.
Your eyes are a beautiful color I can’t even name- somewhere between blue and grey, occasionally leaning towards green. Your hair goes from pale blonde to reddish blonde depending on the light…your Dad and I were both towheads as kids, and your Papa was a redhead so who knows where you will end up. I’m sure your hair will suit you, whenever it decides to come in. Sadly you are often mistaken for a boy, even when you wear pink dresses, because of your peach fuzz head. Don’t worry though, you parents find it adorably charming, and your Dad still needs to learn how to operate barrettes.
I want so badly to write about how much you mean to us, and how this past year has been the most amazing in my life, and how your Dad and I often find ourselves talking about just how fun you are but I can’t do it justice. Words fail me and I end up sounding silly and then trailing off. Just know this year isn’t something I’d trade for anything – you are our world.
Although you are our world, we do try to take time to focus on being a couple (for us, good parenting starts with a good marriage) , and you have a constant line up of friends and family offering to babysit. You charm people in the store and have a generally sunny disposition. Lately you’ve become both more reserved (in unknown situations) but also more boisterous (when you are feeling comfortable with your surroundings). The look on your face when the dog, your beloved nanny, or either your Dad or I walk in the door makes me melt every time. You then crawl, as fast as you can, to the person who has arrived, our own little welcome wagon. It makes even the crappiest commutes infinitely better.
Speaking of your nanny, your Dad and I just made the hard decision to enroll you in daycare in March. It wasn’t an easy decision to come to but it was the right one for you and for us (more on that later) and we are excited to see how your social skills grow. You say “hi” when people walk in the room and you are valiantly trying to say “doggie” – a little more practice and you’ll have it. You clap “yay” when you are happy or excited. You blow kisses, especially first thing in the morning when you wake up. You can point out your nose, play peek-a-boo, and sometimes point out the dog’s nose. You can sign “more” and “all done” with meaning, and you’ll give us “milk” if you don’t think we are paying attention. You use “more” in all sorts of ways – more book (read it again!), more food (yum), more milk (always), more toys. Your love of milk has our wallets very happy we have graduated from formula to regular (whole/organic) milk. While you were a great eater for months, you have three molars coming in and it has really turned you into a picky eater (who has taken to THROWING the offending food, no ma’am) but we are hoping once they are through you are back to your usual gourmet self.
Your first year and your first birthday were an incredible time for us. Looking back on your infancy, I can honestly say that if we knew all babies would be as easy as you, we’d have as many as we could. You’ve come a long way from our tiny girl in the NICU (born at 5 lbs 7 oz) and now find yourself wearing 12 month clothes, right on time. You’ve graduated into your convertible car seat, you are allowed a blanket in your crib and you don’t drink out of bottles any more. So much has changed…but you still give me a snuggle in my shoulder when you need reassurance, and I know you will always be my baby girl.
Oh Gracie Bell, you are the best little member of our family. I hope you know we will always love you unconditionally.
I can’t wait to see what your future holds baby girl. You can grow up to be anything.
19 pounds 14 ounces
Likes: The Itsy Bitsy Spider, peekaboo, fruit snacks, mandarin oranges, cows, cinnamon bunnies, Moo Baa La La La
Dislikes: diaper changes, having to get dressed, closed baby gates, empty straw cups
For the past year of Dear Gracie, click here.
Calling all parents, shoppers and baby registry-makers: lets talk baby carriers.
The thing that some people swear by, other people scoff, and for which there are 9 million opinions and options. When I was pregnant baby carriers seemed daunting. A friend from Twitter sent me a Moby wrap, we registered for the Ergo carrier and I figured we were all set. We hit some glitches after Gracie was born- turns out most carriers have a minimum weight in addition to a maximum weight, and it took Gracie about 6 weeks to get there (even then we might have fudged by a few ounces). But when I flew solo with her at 7 weeks the Ergo was my life saver (I never did master the Moby no matter how hard I tried) getting through security, and it is the only way I survive living in a third floor walk up with a dog whenever B is out of town.
So when Laurel of Carry Me Away got in touch and offered to send me a whole box of soft structured carriers to try and compare, I was more than happy to say yes. I also learned that industry calls them “buckle carriers” which is good to know when you are shopping.
The box of carriers arrived and I was blown away by all the options…and part of me wondered, can these carriers all made in generally the same style, really be that different? In the box I found:
Laurel also offered to send me an Ergo Baby Carrier but since I have my own, I told her I was happy to use it in this great experiement.
The answer to my question has been a resounding yes- I’m shocked by how just a few minor changes between carriers can really change how it functions, feels or performs. And while I still love my Ergo, I’ve also found some new favorites in the box. I’ve been using these carriers in different situations (taking the dog out, riding the El), as has B, and we’ve been trying out different carry positions with them as well. I have an in-depth post coming up comparing and contrasting each carrier, but in the interim, I figured I’d throw it out there in case anyone had any specific (or general) questions about any carrier in particular, or a specific comparison between any of them. I also fear I will never master the art of the back carry without another adult around to help get Gracie situated.
In summary: let me know if you have any questions!
Be sure to check out Carry Me Away if you are in the market for a carrier, because in addition to competitive prices and free fast shipping in orders over $50, they will let you return a carrier within 30 days of purcahse if you find that one doesn’t work as well for you as you’d hoped. You can find all their info here: Shop l Facebook l Instagram l Pinterest l Newsletter l Blog
I have partnered with Carry Me Away to compare and review baby carriers. I was not compensated for my writing and I will send all but one carrier back (keeping my to-be-determined-favorite) at the conclusion of my review. My opinions have been and always will be entirely my own and I am not paid to publish positive comments.
For her birthday I made Gracie a slideshow of her first year. My Mom kindly told me that by the time her wedding rolls around, I’ll need to be a little choosier with my photos. Until then….Gracie’s first year*
*Slightly edited version because I suppose I shouldn’t make *everyone* suffer through the full version