little delights

little delights: a roundup of things that surprised and delighted me recently.

Photo by Brigitte Tohm from Pexels

radical counter programming: I’ve been thinking about this episode from “This American Life” about delight (what else?). It fills my heart with all the warm fuzzies I’ve needed in this already-turbulent election year filled with tornado’s, coronavirus, and complete global uncertainty.

all the cozy: It took me nearly 9 (?!) years of NYC living, but … I finally tried matzoh ball soup! I can’t believe I waited this long. Chicken noodle soup, I forget your existence. Chicken and dumplings, get in line. So far, I’ve only got a preference between the two places closest to my office, but I’m looking forward to trying all the top rated places (according to this list, at least …)

the mountain house: I’m a little obsessed with mountains, old houses and rustic glam spaces. I’ve been following Foxfire Mountain House on Instagram for awhile, but finally took the plunge and ordered their book…for someone else’s Christmas present. But then I realized I desperately wanted a copy, and got one for myself. I’m savoring it, only reading bits at a time, but it is the stuff that forest spirit dreams of made of.

on the road to Hell: Thanks to a friend who needed to pass off a ticket, I saw Hadestown. INCREDIBLE. A folk music-meets-New Orleans soul Greek tragedy that interweaves questions of art, destiny, doubt and purpose within the music and story. I loved it.

here there be stories: in my current employment situation, I have a lot of time on my hands…which I’ve been using to read. A lot.* I’ve listed the ones I adored below:

The Wave, by Susan Casey: News flash—100 foot waves exist…and they’re not going away anytime soon (thanks, global warming!). In Susan Casey’s book, she explores rogue waves from the perspective of big-wave surfers, wave scientists, and insurance agencies. This is one of the best non-fiction books I’ve ever read.

-Devil’s Teeth, by Susan Casey: I love Susan Casey. Her voice is unique and engaging, and her research meticulous. I don’t want to give too much away, but there are islands off the coast of San Francisco that have seen more adventure—from egg looters to great white sharks (especially)— than Indiana Jones. Lucky for readers, Susan Casey chronicles it all…including her own.

-The Witch of Lime Street: Seance, Spiritualism and Houdini in the Spirit World by David Jaher: I’ve been on a big non-fiction kick, what can I say? Spiritualism, stage magic, and science all intersect in post WWI America, with unexpected consequences. I found this one particularly interesting because prior to reading, I’d assumed Spiritualism had died out in the Victorian era. Nope. This book covers the second wave, but there’s even a third wave that follows it. I don’t think it’s too much of a jump to compare post WWI conditions to conditions in 2020 and wonder: are we entering the fourth wave now?

-We Went to the Woods, by Caite Dolan-Leach: This book is perfection. Young, idealistic city-dwellers embrace living off the land, but fail to recognize either their personal motives and privileges, or the forces driving their exodus. This neo-Gothic thriller is what I imagine “Animal Vegetable Miracle” to be, but in fiction form.

-The Harbinger Series, by Jeff Wheeler: In a steam-punk-esque fantasy meets Regency world, two young women from different backgrounds must fight for both personal and political morals. I really loved the first four books of this five-book series, and am recommending them on that basis. It’s an interesting, curious world, and while the heroines take lots of twists and turns on their journeys, I was always rooting for them. In many ways, this reminded me of Tamora Pierce’s “Alanna” series, though The Harbinger series has a decidedly faith-based approach. It’s also rare to find a series that features so many female characters, so despite my disappointment in the fifth book, I was overall pretty satisfied.

-The First Girl Child: Abused and scorned by the men in her world, a young woman curses the kingdom with no more girl children until the curse is broken. The book is set in a vaguely Norse-mythology world, and I enjoyed visiting for the story.

Numina Series, by Charlie N. Holmberg: Monsters, magic and humanity collide in this series, set in a sort of Dickensian-magic Prague. This might be another one of my favorite series I’ve read lately. It’s inventive and clever, and the plot and characters are well-developed and thought out. It reminded me a little of “Six of Crows,” by Leigh Bardugo (which I also highly recommend).

-Untethered, by Michael Alwill: a somewhat bleak but exciting fantasy set in New York City, featuring underground magic uses, a fight for power and twist I didn’t see coming. Okay, lots of twists, but it was especially fun to read about the city in which I reside.

*I read very, very, very quickly. I process it all, but I’ve always been a fast reader. This means, if I’ve got enough time on my hands, I can finish two books a day. Non-fiction tends to slow me down (hurrah!), and I try to be aware when I’m speeding through a book, so as to slow down and enjoy it more.

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