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read this, read that

Read This, Read That

Welcome to “Read This, Read That,” where I invite friends, bloggers, and bibliophiles of all sorts to share some of their favorite books or writing with Mode and the Like. From novels and poems to cookbooks and art tomes, you’ll find a diverse selection of recommended reading in this feature.

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The Little Prince by Antoine De Saint-Exupery / The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo
recommended by Hannah

As the call of adulthood intensifies, I find myself yearning for the fragile, beautiful world of a child. Icons of a gentle childhood come and gone are invaluable to those living in a world of college textbooks and career planning manuals. I savor the occasional conversation with my peers spent passionately recounting Disney movies. I still remember long summer afternoons stationed in the children’s section of the local library. Amidst busy semesters of philosophy and Old English, the endearing characters and stories of children’s literature remain an oasis, warm and comforting.

This lust for childhood days recently led me back to two of the most well-loved books of my youth—The Little Prince by Antoine De Saint-Exupery and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo. I adored them in a vague, dreamy way as a child, but it was not until reading them as an “adult” (if I can call myself that) that I unearthed much deeper, significant meanings. What I found was just as meaningful to my life as the canonical literature of my studies, lessons that just happened to be delivered in the form of a porcelain rabbit doll and a little prince from another planet.

Both The Little Prince and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane unfold like epics, following the characters as they travel and encounter new friends. The little prince speaks of his travels from planet to planet, remarking on the quirky character of the inhabitants and the way in which each befriended him. He learns that even the memory of great friends makes life worthwhile; the stars are no longer only stars, but the beacon of many profound experiences of love. Edward Tulane, a toy rabbit, is tragically lost by his first owner and finds himself handed from home to home. Readers follow Edward as he loves and leaves family after family, learning to both embrace and let go as time inevitably tears them apart.

I found myself smiling through my tears at the touching portrayals of friendship in both stories. The characters may be innocent, and their ways of loving may be simplified, but it is that kind of love that adult readers need reminding of. While everyone must inevitably leave childhood book collections behind, one need not forget the way of living portrayed in their colorful pages. I am surprised to find that children’s books contain the secret to a storybook adulthood lived both whimsically and lovingly.

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Hannah Bendiksen

Hannah Bendiksen is studying Creative Writing at the University of San Francisco. She enjoys scribbling in journals, aimlessly daydreaming, and people-watching through tinted sunglasses.
citydwellerstoryteller.blogspot.com

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read this, read that

modeandthelikereadthisameliakuehn

Welcome to “Read This, Read That,” where I invite friends, bloggers, and bibliophiles of all sorts to share some of their favorite books or writing with Mode and the Like. From novels and poems to cookbooks and art tomes, you’ll find a diverse selection of recommended reading in this feature.

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The Folded Clock: A Diary by Heidi Julavits
recommended by Amelia

Heidi Julavits’s The Folded Clock: A Diary is one I keep recommending to my closest friends. This honest, reflective book had me alternating between laughing, crying, and nodding with recognition.

The diary format is an interesting deviation from a usual memoir, which it is not, except in tone. I found the subject matter relatable, but I also identify as a woman, a writer, and a fellow journaler. Plus she writes on topics that I soak up, like desire, relationships, motherhood, writing, self-doubt, anxiety, gender, interior design, and that impulse to Google everyone you meet. So this book for me felt both current and timeless, and time lapsed in a cohesive way for me.

It was brave of Julavits to collect and publish these journal entries for public consumption. When I finished the book, it felt as if I’d embarked on a really significant new relationship or met a dear new friend—the fun, spontaneous kind that has a fire in her.

The prose parcels out the kind of intimacy that normally takes years of trust and shared experience to forge—only without the red-wine hangover or that crippling self-doubt loop of “did I say too much?”

A quote I liked from this book, which I plan to revisit in the years to come: “I reread books to measure my degree of difference from myself.”

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modeandthelike_ameliakuehn

San Francisco-based writer Amelia Kuehn takes her coffee black and her yoga hot. She has a big heart and a small dog.

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read this, read that

modeandthelike_furiouslyhappy

Welcome to “Read This, Read That,” where I invite friends, bloggers, and bibliophiles of all sorts to share some of their favorite books or writing with Mode and the Like. From novels and poems to cookbooks and art tomes, you’ll find a diverse selection of recommended reading in this feature.

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Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson
recommended by Shelby

A chuckle perhaps has escaped when reading some of the recent books that I’ve added to my shelves, but nothing compares to the almost wetting of myself and tears running down my face as I read Lawson’s latest book, Furiously Happy. Never have I ever felt more connected to a book—heck, to an author—than perhaps the vampiric stint I went through in middle school. In Furiously Happy, Lawson sets out on an impossible task: make the modern world understand the beauty of her mental illness.

This is an autobiography, but really it’s a biography of my life that Lawson must have been watching from the oak tree in my backyard. I completely understand on many emotional levels exactly what she talks about when she mentions the crazy shit she has done thanks to her illnesses. Being a diagnosed “crazy” person myself, I am completely aware of the skepticism that comes with the label “depression.” In fact, that skepticism, which Lawson touches on as well, is still present in my day-to-day life as I take my expensive medication, talk to my expensive therapist, and wonder if am I really that crazy that I need to do these outlandish things. Could this just be a sugar pill and wouldn’t it have the same effect? What if I’m part of “Big Pharmacy’s” plan to make everyone believe they’re insane to some extent and need drugs? I sit and ponder these thoughts too often and Lawson assured me that this is all too common for her as well.

For once, someone has taken the truly scary sides of depression such as self-harm, suicidal thoughts, it being hereditary, etc., and forced it into a different, brighter picture. I laugh alongside her hilarious moments of insomnia and the wonderfully detailed descriptions of her cats and husband, but I also feel that she has described depression in a way that is easy to swallow, having been sugarcoated so deliciously in the chapter before. Lawson’s work is a treat; her style is conversational, yet serious when it needs to be; her chapters breeze by to the point that I needed to stop reading for fear I was going to finish too soon. She makes me feel okay that I do weird things at all hours of the day thanks to my mental illness and she wants everyone to feel that way as well.

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modeandthelike_shelbylueders

A recent literature graduate with no plans for the near future, Shelby is an aspiring novelist herself who enjoys sleeping and eating, talking with her therapist and cat (two separate beings, most of the time), driving around and forgetting where she was going, laying out in the sun reading, and staring into her boyfriend’s eyes.
shelbylueders.com

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read this, read that

modeandthelikertrtkendramcphee

Welcome to “Read This, Read That,” where I invite friends, family, bloggers, and bibliophiles of all sorts to share some of their favorite books or writing with Mode and the Like. From novels and poems to cookbooks and art tomes, you’ll find here a diverse selection of recommended reading in this monthly feature.

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The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson / Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen / The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern 
recommended by Kendra

I’m always reading. Most of the time I’m drawn to non-fiction books on wellness and business, like Blue Zones by Dan Buettner or Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh. This month, however, has been grey and rainy in San Francisco, compelling me to dive into mysterious historical novels. Rich with themes of murder, magic, and romance, these novels take place at some of history’s most exciting social engagements—the World’s Fair and the traveling circus. None of these books are particularly challenging reads, but they are incredibly imaginative and entertaining.

If you can read only one of these in the near future, I highly recommend grabbing Erik Larson’s The Devil in the White CityIt is the most murderous of the selections. You’ll be lured into the story by either Dr. H.H. Holmes, the story’s cunning yet charming serial killer, or Daniel Burnham, Chicago’s brilliant dreamer and architect, and you’ll stay for the drama that unfolds in the heart of the 1893 World’s Fair.

Water for Elephants is the most romantic of the three, centered around the love between a circus performer and a vagabond veterinarian who “ran away with the circus,” finding home and family in the most unlikely of characters. I walked away from this book wishing Rosie, the elephant, were more central in the story, touched by her tenderness and intelligence and saddened by how much she was misunderstood—much like the novel’s central character, Jacob.

The plot of The Night Circus dances between magic and illusion. The characters are as mysterious as the story, weaving mystery and seduction into their circus act AND their interactions with each other. You’ll be drawn into the exciting, surprising world of the circus and torn between the power of cruelty and the power of love.

modeandthelikekendramcphee

Kendra grew up with her nose in a book and her head in the clouds. When she’s not developing children’s literature-inspired apparel at her organic baby apparel company, Obébé Organic, she can be found whipping up a recipe from the Against All Grain cookbook or conversing with friends over a glass of wine.
obebeorganic.commedium.com/@krmcphee / twitter.com/krmcphee

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read this, read that

modeandthelikefemalefriendship

Welcome to the inaugural post of “Read This, Read That,” where I invite friends, family, bloggers, and bibliophiles of all sorts to share some of their favorite books or writing with Mode and the Like. From novels and poems to cookbooks and art tomes, you’ll find here a diverse selection of recommended reading. I asked my friend Charlie to kick off this monthly feature, since I truly admire her voice, opinion, and style, so without further ado, I give you Charlie’s pick.

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“Transformation and Transcendence: The Power of Female Friendship” by Emily Rapp
recommended by Charlie

Fittingly, a female friend sent Emily Rapp’s eloquent essay to me, a reminder of the many ways she, like other female friends in my life, knows me well. In this impactful essay, Rapp discusses stereotypes about women, age, and friendship, touching on how we are often tempted to look outward, marking success by socially acceptable (and expected) achievements of others, and how, by looking inward to the female friendships we seek and form, we are more supportive and nurturing of the lives we and our friends lead.

Rapp hits on a resonant note – that there is a unique and intriguing unity that females form with one another, it’s a type of love that is resilient and loud. We vehemently (and quickly) declare love to one another, and in a far more honest way than I think we ever announce our love to men. It’s a different kind of love. It’s fierce. Protective. Unconditional.

Never has a family member or past boyfriend been able to pick me up in the same way as a close female friend can. There are friends I can count on to tell me when I’m being plain stupid, friends that I know, whether on the phone, over wine, or through email, will readily listen when I need a sympathetic ear. There are those who understand and accept my need to shut myself away, an introvert trapped in an extrovert’s body, and those who can bring out my unashamedly goofy and social ways. My female friends form the very essence of me. Whatever my life brings – womanhood has my back in a way that no other relationship – wonderful in its own right – can offer. My female friends understand me, whether I fit into an acceptable societal convention or not.

modeandthelikecharliephoto

An England native, Charlie is a graduate of the MFA in Creative Writing program at the University of San Francisco and now lives in Los Angeles. She’s a contributor for The Children’s Book Review, and when she’s not reading, she’s happily working on her first novel – stopping only to photograph the sunset. She misses the San Francisco fog, sometimes.
www.fromthecafewindow.wordpress.com

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