Is it still Winter or has Spring arrived here in Asheville? Mother Nature can’t seem to make up her mind.
I find that all weather is good weather to plunge into a good read. What would be your ideal conditions for immersing yourself in a book? Personally, I love the ambiance created by the creak of a rocking chair, crackling flames in a woodstove, and wafts of steam rising from my cup of tea (or coffee…)…that or leaning up against a thick ole trunk of a tree with nothing but nature all around.
Even though we’ve been experiencing a pretty warm bout of weather in Western North Carolina, there seems to be something about this transitional season that especially affects people’s moods. Well luckily for us, books are an amazing remedy for moodiness, the highs or the lows. A supportive confidante, they soothe our emotional bandwidth as we go about our daily lives. We’ve all heard of food-as-medicine. Well I say books-as-medicine also deserves some of the limelight.
Feeling inquisitive? Feeling distraught? In need of some inspiration or playfulness? I believe there is always a piece of literature waiting in the background to hold your hand through any part of your journey. A book is a chance for you to experience a new environment, new city, new family, new friends, new social class, new job, new face, new personality, new love, etc. causing you to relate or escape, your choice.
As your local Literary Apothecarius, I’d like to support you by pointing you towards a medicinal dose of good literature. I’ll be sharing some of my favorite restorative reads each month to take the burden of choice off you bibliophiles and skip right to the good part – getting sucked into the story.
Throwing old oldies and newbies in an eclectic mix of recommendations, afterwards you can run to one of our town’s amazing indie bookstores to grab a copy: Malaprops, Firestorm, Downtown Books, Spellbound, Mr. K’s, Battery Park Book Exchange to name a few....
[remember: our support of these local businesses keeps them open and thriving!]
Let’s jump in!
Books to Read in Spring 2017
If you are feeling introverted…and want to be reassured that you are not alone [well figuratively speaking, since you really do want to be alone].
Read: We Have Always Lived in the Castle
by Shirley Jackson
Jackson is a weaver of the types of haunted tales that give you a frail sense of security. You know you shouldn’t get comfortable, but her matter-a-fact language is like a wide snug seat. The protagonist is a small girl and her entire family, save her sister and her crippled uncle, are dead. Set in a secluded homestead on the border of a small village, the progression of the story oscillates between one of isolation – physical isolation and emotional isolation. It is the kind of storytelling that makes you feel like there is an invisible finger tapping your shoulder and yet the revealing is incremental and brilliant, making you want to go back and read again. We Have Always Lived in the Castle is Jackson’s final work.
In January, we had the Women’s March popping up all over the country and there has been a lot of discussions circling the topic of gender equality and inclusiveness. March 8th also happened to be International Women’s Day. Perhaps you are feeling curious about feminism…and why the world needs this kind of movement.
Read: How to Be a Woman
by Caitlin Moran
No sugar-coating and indeed entertaining. Through a series of humorous short stories, Moran presents to the reader the storm women must endure in our quest for equality. Her stories plunge into external expectations on women’s daily experiences and milestones, showing how embedded social, political, and economic misogyny is in our world : from underwear to sexy dancing to love to childbirth. She touches on misperceptions of the female role and feminism, while expelling many of them with a loud laugh. Making feminism look like a blast, she’ll have all wanting to join.
Raise your hand if you like to follow the rules…I’d imagine not many of you do (I know I don’t). Well, we are in good company, considering we are choosing to live in a place like Asheville, surrounded by so many fiercely free-spirited people. So, if you are feeling like no one is the boss of you…
Read: A Rule is to Break: A Child’s Guide to Anarchy
by John Seven and Jana Christy
The story follows a red-fox suited little girl in her mischief. We watch her grow more and more bold as an invisible narrator guides her along. Good life lessons are to be had for all ages: importance of inclusivity, kindness, independent thought, and creativity to name a few. An adorably clever book that will stir up a strong sense of self determination in its reader.
With this biting cold and bouts of rain, perhaps you are feeling cooped up…and looking to release some of that restlessness inside of you. Living here in the mountains, the wildness is always beckoning for us to come play and a brilliant tale can stoke that fire.
Read: The Bear and the Nightingale
by Katherine Arden
More folklore than fairytale. If you are a believer in the wise ways of the old world, this story will bring forth a desire to deeper connect to the unseen – that intuition and third eye. Arden’s tale captures what it means to believe in the soul of a place; that locales are living beings, not just physical space. You will likely feel a burning kindred-ness with the wild maiden and a desire to spend countless hours wandering for the sake of wanderlust alone. A perfect nod to the changing of seasons, this novel makes the reader yearn to sit on a soft bed of moss in a forest clearing on a warm spring day surrounded by a grove of gnarled old tree guardians and yet there will also be a simultaneous lingering for the white blanket of winter and a roaring hearth.
I prefer to refrain from using the word “hustle.” For me, it alludes to feelings of external and internal pressure. I’d rather be inspired and motivated. Time is something we are all striving to manage well without letting it rule us. Being a parent I must juggle all-the-live-long-day; clawing for and clinging to mere moments of alone time. Short stories are perfect for cramming into those pockets of time we have created between our daily tasks. So, if you hate the hustle, but are feeling short on time:
Read: The Dubliners
By James Joyce
Joyce is a writer’s writer, renowned as a master of language in his stories. During his time, he faced some obstacles in publishing, as his work was deemed controversial (which good authors don’t have this issue?) due to its focus on issues affecting the “lower class.” Over a century old, this series of stories is set in small town Ireland. Refreshing for its time, the compilation captivates readers with its colorful characters, curt dialogue, and honest descriptive language.
Exploring is the creative’s bread and butter for all those juicy ideas. We find the journeys of others magnetic, artists inspiring other artists. So if you have a serious case of creative wanderlust…
Read: M Train
by Patti Smith
Ever so poetic in her prose, Smith takes the reader on a journey through a lifetime of her notebook-worthy reflections. From tiny establishments that serve as her creative havens to more soul-inspiring esoteric destinations, readers will float through Smith’s vivid memories and artistic mind. Her writings are in part from the realm of dreams commingled with more grounded recollections, making you want to carry around a notebook wherever you go (in fact, I do).
Have an amazing book you want to share with the Asheville community? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with how this particular read was medicinal to you. It could be featured in Asheville Folk’s monthly Literary Apothecary.
Your Local Apothecarius:
Meghan is a humanitarian worker turned writer, living in Asheville since 2015. Her free-spirit leads her to wander many places between home and the rest of the world, particularly anywhere with yummy food, magical forests, and good company. When she’s not chasing her boisterous and curious 18-month-old little boy at his heels, she is hopelessly enamored with books, drinking all the coffee, reflecting on creative projects, and writing tidbits of fiction.
You can read more of Meghan’s musings at www.travelandlore.com
Follow her on Instagram @thelorelife