In the Woods

Maple will stare at you until you read this book. Engaging writing, angsty detective partners with that Will They / Won’t They question (think Stabler and Benson), and a mystery for good measure. Initially, the premise (child murder) and the creepy tree roots on the cover freaked me out, but my friend recommended it and she knows a good partner love story when she sees one (Stabler, Benson) and also because she writes good partner love stories. You’re welcome.

Now go pick up a copy, read it at the beach and come back here so we can discuss it.

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Where the Wild Things Are

In anticipation of the release of Where the Wild Things Are today (hello, childhood), I wanted to share a little story by Maurice Sendak that Jack Kornfield relates in his book The Wise Heart. The book, by the way, is an excellent, accessible exploration of Buddhist psychology peppered with thoughtful anecdotes. And I must mention that Kornfield’s has another book that should win an award for its title alone: After the Ecstasy, the Laundry.

Anyway, here’s Kornfield writing about joy:

When we live in the present, joy arises for no reason. This is the happiness of consciousness that is not dependent on particular conditions. Children know this job. Maurice Sendak, author of Where the Wild Things Are, tells the story of a boy who wrote to him. “He sent me a charming card with a drawing. I loved it. I answer all my children’s letters—sometimes very hastily—but this one I lingered over. I sent him a postcard and I drew a picture of a Wild Thing on it. I wrote, ‘Dear Jim, I loved your card.’ Then I got a letter back from his mother and she said, ‘Jim loved your card so much he ate it.’ That to me was one of the highest compliments I’ve ever received. He didn’t care that it was an original drawing or anything. He saw it, he loved it, he ate it.”

Here’s to loving something so much you want to eat it.

where the wild things are

A virgin copy

The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet by Reif Larsen is causing quite a stir in the book world. Heavily promoted in Boston (the author is from Brookline) with a book reading and a slide show on boston.com, and accompanying media on its Amazon page, I was eager to get my hands on a copy. The novel chronicles the adventures of a 12-year-old genius mapmaker, and the text is full of marginalia—maps and illustrations drawn by the narrator. Who can resist that?

Once again, the library has come through. I’m even the first one to borrow the book—a virgin copy—seeing as it was just catalogued today. And yes, I take a nerdy pleasure in that. The hardcover is all newly wrapped in clear plastic, free of smudgy fingerprints, and the Due Date flap is practically blank. No dog-eared pages here. I can’t wait to dig in.

 

An illustrated novel for adults!

An illustrated novel for adults!

Sex Sleep Eat Drink Dream

I just read this fascinating book about a day in the life of your body. Sex Sleep Eat Drink Dream by Jennifer Ackerman weaves a host of scientific studies on everything from pain to sleep cycles into a readable narrative, putting each study, blissfully, in layman’s terms. Some handy practical knowledge can be gleaned from this book: your pain threshold is highest in the afternoon, so it’s best to schedule dentist visits then; the time of day you take medication or have chemotherapy can affect the results; having sex before a big presentation can calm the nerves.

The benefits of exercise have never been clearer to me or more well-argued than in this book. We all know exercise is important, but to hear the exhaustive list of why is a compelling reminder. Exercise aids weight loss, of course, but also concentration, sleep, brain function, mood. You might say it’s a wonder drug—one that requires a bit more effort than swallowing a pill, but a wonder drug nonetheless.

The coolest fact? A theory behind that jolt you occasionally experience as you’re drifting off to sleep. Ackerman says that the “spasm . . . is more frequent in adults than in children, and more common in people who are nervous or overtired. Some evolutionary biologists speculate that the hypnic jerk may be a reflex left over from arboreal ancestors—useful in avoiding a slip from a sleeping perch.” Cool.

sex sleep eat drink dream