One of the best decisions I’ve made recently was joining the San Francisco Public Library. I’ve always loved books and consider myself an avid reader but lately I’m also a girl on a budget (yikes!) and books are expensive. But on the same page, something freaked me out about belonging to a library in the city (hello germs! and flu season!) and I was reluctant to go in and sign up for a card. But to my pleasant surprise, its actually been an amazing resource for someone like me. I’ve come to love visiting the different branches (there are three within walking distance to me) and I find the selection of books to be better than the local library back home. This past Saturday, I took a beautiful walk down to the branch on Chestnut Street and had to stop myself from checking out ten different books. Here are the ones I did pick up:
Wild by Cheryl Strayed: I’ve seen this book cover seemingly everywhere for the past year, but never picked it up to read until just now – and boy am I glad I did. It’s the memoir of twenty-something Cheryl who after experiencing the death of her mother and a messy divorce shorty thereafter, decides to go on a soul-searching, 1,100 mile solo-hike along the Pacific Crest Trail, from the Mojave Desert in California and Oregon to Washington State. Cheryl’s story is plagued by demons from her past (hard to read at some points – the beginning of the book is pretty dark) but reassures us with the fact that with a little self-exploration and reflection, we can all forge better trails for ourselves in the future. The book is filled with vivid details of the great, rugged American West, as well as entertaining anecdotes about the people Cheryl meets along the way. I also just discovered via this article, that the book is being made into a movie with Reese Witherspoon playing the leading lady!
A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler: Ah, Zelda! That jazz-loving, hard-partying, semi-psychotic wife of famous writer F. Scott Fitzgerald, is a true legend. Her life in the 1920s jazz era rivals the Paris Hilton’s and Lindsay Lohan’s of today, making her one of the very first American socialites to captivate the public. I’ve been dying to get my hands on more info about her ever since I decided that I’d follow the advice of this Thought Catalog entry and live my summer exactly as Zelda would have. Well, I definitely deviated (sadly) from that plan, but my interest in her never waned. At first, I was disappointed when I realized that this book was a novel (ie: fiction) but the story of her life and her love with F. Scott, as well as their time in Paris among the literary elite of the 1920s, is still intriguing and interesting no matter how embellished.
The Letters of Ernest Hemingway (1907-1922) by Sandra Spanier & Robert W. Trogdon: My last semester of college, I took an English course dedicated solely to the works of Ernest Hemingway and truthfully, it was my favorite class of my undergraduate career. His works opened my eyes to an amazing era and style of writing that I’m not sure can ever fully be replicated by anyone in the modern day. I became fascinated (as does almost everyone who reads Hemingway) with his life, and the time period in which he lived. So when I found this volume of letters, which my professor had recommended, it was a no brainer for me to check out. I’m intrigued by letter writing in general (I’m probably one of the only people alive that still sends snail mail), and to read the personal letters of a man I truly admire through his important formative years is truly amazing. One of my favorite lines so far: Hemingway writes, in a letter to F. Scott Fitzgerald, “Or dont you like to write letters. I do because it’s such a swell way to keep from working and yet you feel you’ve done something”. My sentiments exactly.
An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin: When I first picked up this book, I had no idea it was written by the Steve Martin. As in the actor. As in the hottest banjo-playing, silver fox that ever existed. And once I did figure it out, I almost placed it directly back on the shelf. What does he know about writing anyway? He’s just an actor and comedian, right? Wrong. Steve Martin can write, and captivatingly so. His story of Lacey Yaeger, a young and charming fixture in the New York City art world is told through the eyes of a man who simply can’t get her out of his head. From her rise to the top of elite circles to the dark ways in which an industry based on beauty can effect those within it, this story acts as insight into a exclusive world that few ever break in to.