Posts Tagged ‘Books’

Where Do You Read?

Apr 01, 2013

Oddfellows Orphange | Secrets of a Belle

Hello,  English Musers!

It’s Hannah B. again from  Secrets of a Belle. This past weekend, while the rain pitter-pattered on the window, I spent some time curled up on the couch lost in a new favorite book. This got me to thinking. Where do you other people read? Do you curl up on the couch too? Do you read in bed before you drift off to sleep? Personally, my dream is to eventually have a room devoted just to reading… you know, like the Duke!

The Duke of Devonshire Taking a Nap in the Library at Chatsworth, Shot by Christopher Sykes

The Duke of Devonshire Taking a Nap in the Library at Chatsworth, Shot by Christopher Sykes

But it doesn’t have to be that fancy! After all, in the words of Billy Baldwin…

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Here are some other reading spaces I really dig.

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More excellent reading nooks can be found on Pinterest.

What about you? Where do you do your best reading?

Hannah B. lives in East Tennessee where she writes Secrets of a Belle, a blog about the art of living a more beautiful life. You can follow Hannah B. on twitter at @HB_Belle and on Facebook.

 

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Well, it’s that time of year when our house starts to look more and more like the North Pole each day, and tonight, I plan on getting out my collection of Christmas books. So I thought I’d share a few with you…

Jingle Bells and Santa’s Toy Shop are definitely two of my favorite Christmas children’s books! In fact, this Fall I bought extra copies of each to use in some decor. (You can see the 1st of those projects, a wreath, by clicking here or over on DIYNetwork’s website.)

Christmas at the New Yorker is a fantastic collection of holiday essays that my mother-in-law got me years ago. It is one of my absolute favorite books to read on a December evening… glass of bourbon in hand, of course.

The Curious World of Christmas is a fascinating book full of little facts and stories. It’s the perfect thing to have sitting on your coffee table for guests who are waiting on dinner.

Do you remember reading The Best Christmas Pageant Ever when you were in elementary school? I loved it!

This version of The Night Before Christmas illustrated by Douglas Gorsline may be my favorite. These are the pictures & details that are vivid in my mind every time I hear the poem recited.

Each year, around this time, I pick up Little Women. The first time I read it was in winter and that first chapter by the fire with all of the March sisters never ceases to give me the coziest of feelings.

The Berenstein Bears’ Christmas Tree was my absolute favorite when I was little. I don’t think I will ever get tired of reading it. In fact, I was reminded of it again today when I read about Rachel’s family trekking through the woods in search of a tree for Sebastian.

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So now, I must ask, what are your most-beloved Christmas books?

For a little more Christmas reading, click over to Secrets of a Belle.

Until next week, xo*,
Hannah B. 

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Books by Bloggers

Nov 26, 2012

Hello, English Musers!

It’s Hannah B. from Secrets of a Belle back to share some fun things with you again. Since we so often share about what our latest literary finds, today I thought I would share about a set of emerging authors that I realized I’d been spending a lot of time with: bloggers turned authors.

blogger books from secrets of a belle's Hannah B

Here are a few of the books I’ve read in the past year that I highly recommend…

Blog, Inc. by Joy Cho of Oh Joy!

This is what I’ve been reading for the past week. Joy is a super artsy mama from LA. I’ve always adored her style and her work so when she released a book about blogging, I couldn’t resist. It’s full of practical tips, but I’m especially enjoying the Q&As with other well-known bloggers.

Edible Selby by Todd Selby of The Selby

I am a huge fan of The Selby. It’s like having a really great interior design magazine online. (If only all the actual interior design magazines would translate to the web so well.) I’ve got The Selby is in Your Place but, as a foodie, Todd’s new book, Edible Selby, is high on my wishlist. It’s chock-full of some serious eye candy.

Design*Sponge at Home by Grace Bonney of Design*Sponge (& the podcast “After the Jump”)

I think Grace Bonney is a role model to a lot of bloggers, and I’m no different. I was especially excited last Christmas to receive this book in my stocking. It’s full of a lot of the inspiring interiors that have been featured on Design*Sponge as well as a bunch of How-To’s.

A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg of Orangette

I’ve long been a fan of Molly’s blog so I was anxious to read this book when it came out a couple of years ago. There’s only one word for it: this book is beautiful. It’s a series of personal stories woven together with scrumptious recipes. It will make you laugh, make you cry, and then it will make you want to click over to Molly’s blog and catch up on all the things that have happened since the book’s release. She becomes like a close friend.

(Two Fun Facts: She’s writing another book, and she just had a baby!)

The Bucolic Plague by Josh Kilmer-Purcell of Beekman 1802

You may have seen Brent and Josh competing in CBS’s Amazing Race recently or over on Cooking Channel. Well, this book tells the beginning of their story. It will make you laugh out loud! I will admit, I picked up for cover, bought it for the Martha references, and now will forever be a fan of the fabulous Beekman Boys!

The Black Apple Paper Doll Primer by Emily Winfield Martin of The Black Apple

This is just super fun. Did you ever wish for paper dolls for Christmas? Well, I did, so I was excited to run across this last year when we were in Chicago. I’ve been a fan of Emily’s since I was in college, and I just adore her art. This book is full of lovely characters you’ll want to get to know.

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Are there any bloggers you want to write a book?

Until next week,
Hannah B. 

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“This is the story of the barn. I wrote it for children and to amuse myself.”
~E.B. White in his reading of Charlotte’s Web, which turns 60 today

This morning started as most mornings do… with coffee & NPR… when I heard this little snippet about the 60th anniversary of this beloved children’s classic. Which got me to thinking, I really should pull out my own copy this evening and give it another read. Mine is an old copy, well-loved and given to me by my old high school librarian who, every once in a while, would let my friend and I take some of the most ‘loved’ books off the shelves to make room for shiny, new copies. Given the popularity of Charlotte’s Web, I have to wonder how many copies our library has gone through over the past 60 years. All that to say, if you haven’t read any E.B White in a while, perhaps this is the week.

Also, does anyone out there use goodreads? It’s a social site for readers I came across recently. I would love to find you!

Here’s the link to my goodreads profile page.

I hope you have an absolutely *lovely* week, English Musers! Until next Monday, you can find me at Secrets of a Belle.

xo* ~Hannah B.

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I have always had an affinity for children’s books. I believe it’s one of the main reasons I studied design. There’s a special place in my heart reserved just for my favorite illustrators who, of course, are too numerous to mention here. Reading a children’s book is sort of like transporting yourself on a little mini vacation. The worlds become destinations you can inhabit for the next 10 minutes while the characters quickly become old friends. Don’t you think so? Anyway, today I was thinking that since English Muse is a blog where we all our shameless bookworms, why not share with you some of my favorite *new* children’s books. (disclaimer: “new” in this context means published within the last 5 years or so) This way we can all take a few minutes to indulge our inner Kathleen Kelly.

“A Sick Day for Amos McGee”
written by: Philip C. Stead | illustrated by: Erin Stead

My sweet mother-in-law got me this book for Christmas a couple of years ago, and it is beautiful! The book was written and illustrated by a husband + wife team, which I thought was really neat, and I was particularly fascinated with the illustration process of Erin, which you can read more about here.

“The Composer is Dead”
written by Lemony Snicket | illustrated by Carson Ellis

As the wife of a former band director, this book had me laughing so hard I had to listen to it twice. That’s right: Listen to it. You see, the book itself is great, but it also comes with a cd that not only adds a bit to the story that you won’t find in the original text, but illustrates the text with beautiful music. Think “Clue” meets “A Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra.”

“I Had a Favorite Dress”
written by: Boni Ashburn | illustrated by: Julia Denos

This book is close to my heart for a couple of reasons. First of all, my mother is an absolutely amazing seamstress. I had no idea how spoiled I was until I got older and my wardrobe was no longer custom tailored. (It  is impossible to buy clothes that fit perfectly ‘off the rack!’) Second, the illustrator, Julia Denos, has become an “interweb friend,” and is just as sweet as you would expect when you see her lovely illustrations. I just *adore* her style! This is a must have for any girl!

“Leonard the Terrible Monster”
by Mo Willems

I have always had an affinity for monsters. I was scared of absolutely everything when I was little, but monsters? Never! They were my friends! I just knew that the ones that lived under my bed only wanted to be friends. Why in the world was everyone else so frightened of them? Well, this book was written for everyone that ever thought like me.

“Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs”
by Mo Willems

This book will be a joint present for Husband and I next week (our birthdays are a week apart). Mo Willems always scores, but a dinosaur retelling of Goldilocks? Seriously? Who doesn’t want to read this book?

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So now let’s chat… What is your favorite children’s book?
Is there any particular reason it’s your favorite?

Until Next Week,
Hannah B.

P.S. If you too are a lover of children’s books, you may want to check out this new blog called Three Books a Night. It’s authored by Caryn, whom I consider a kindred spirit. She’s the only grown-up I know with more children’s books than me! Oh, & be sure to say *hello!*

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Confession: I have always had a love affair with old radio shows. When I was little, my mom would buy tapes of Burns & Allen for me at Cracker Barrel for long road trips, and I would listen to them so much that I would literally wear them out. It was always so much more satisfying for me to imagine the action in my head and the simple story lines from ‘back in the day’ were exactly what I imagined grown-up life to be. Now, when I work, I can usually be found listening to Jack Benny, Granby’s Green Acres, Fibber McGee & Molly or… Garrison Keillor. Keillor is the newest infatuation, but I have fallen fast and hard, friends.

I love the way A Prairie Home Companion preserves the old broadcast style. It brings together talented people with good stories and good music, but there is something about the host’s delivery that I just can’t get past. I’m pretty sure that man could read my grocery list, and I would suddenly find myself longing to drink lemonade on the front porch and listen to mountain music. It doesn’t matter that his stories are of his beloved Minnesota, he somehow manages to channel every small town in America. But why sit here and write about it? Why not share a few examples and let you see for yourself? So here you are:

If you need a little mini-vacate from your cubicle like me or you are sitting somewhere having a bad day, take 15 minutes and listen to The News from Lake Wobegon.

If you want to feel inspired by the way this writer looks at the world, take an evening and watch this documentary: The Man on the Radio in the Red Shoes. (It’s on Netflix!)

If you want to start your morning remembering why you love books, subscribe to this podcast… or tune into your local NPR station at 11:50am.

If you want to know a little more about the way Keillor looks at the world, read his answers to Time’s 10 Questions.

And if you don’t understand the appeal of Garrison Keillor, I would encourage you to read this 2006 article on Slate. It just made me laugh. Perhaps his appeal is every bit as mysterious as the author claims. Perhaps he’s not for everyone, but I just can’t help myself– I love him.

What about you? What do you nerd out on?

 

 

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On our first trip to New York, back in March, Husband and I went to see The Steins Collect at the MET. It was magical. The collection was a joint effort between Gertrude Stein and her brothers (as well as their wives) and was an amazing overview of some of the best artists from the turn of the 20th century, which also happens to be my very favorite period. The one thing I have not been able to get out of my head was the little postcard pictured above from Henri Matisse to the family of Michel Stein. It’s absolutely amazing to know that all of these people were actually friends: Matisse, Hemingway, Picasso, Stein, Fitzgerald… etc, etc. To that end, I am pulling out A Moveable Feast (Hemingway’s account of the time) and just received Midnight in Paris from Netflix. When it’s 104 in Tennessee, why not escape to Paris?

What are you reading as a little summer escape? Any recommendations?
Until next week… xo* ~Hannah B.

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Hi!

It’s Marthe from The Freedom Experiment again, and this week it is all about books! If I should have a daughter… I would want her to read these books. I seriously think that these books should be compulsory reading in school. Take out some of that useless (and boring) maths and sciences, and add a little more about real life challenges. Don’t you agree? Anyways, here are my selection of non-fiction books I think that every young woman should read. Enjoy!

Source: flickr.com via Marthe on Pinterest

1) Women, Food and God – Geneen Roth

If you’ve ever struggled with food (like me), this book is for you. I read it in one day (!) and I learnt A LOT about how I used food to regulate my emotions. Even if you’ve never struggled yourself, I truly recommend this book if you would like to gain a wider understanding of food issues and emotional eating. I think it would be perfect to read this book together with a good friend – and then discuss (and open up).

2) The Creative Habit – Twyla Tharp

A must-read for all creative spirits out there. This book is both truly inspirational (as in you just want to go out there an CREATE when you read it) and educational. I learned a lot about my own creative process (the book has assignments and workbook pages) and I picked up a lot of great tips.

3) Crazy, Sexy Diet – Kris Carr

Not really a diet in the normal sense of the word – Crazy, Sexy is a way of life! This book is one of the best books I’v read in all my life (and that says a lot!) and it is definitely the best (and only) nutrition book you’ll ever need. I need to warn you, though, this book will change how you think about food. It will also change how you look and feel + it is written in a really sassy, funny and understandable language. All girls (and boys too) should read this!

4) The 4-hour Workweek – Tim Ferriss

This book. If you haven’t read this book already, it’s about time. This is another one of those books that will leave you changed, that’s for sure. I read this on the the Tokyo Metro and had to laugh out loud several times. It’s wonderfully well written, full of inspiration and if you don’t close this book with several life-changing ideas – something is wrong with you. ;)

5) The Firestarter Sessions – Danielle LaPorte

This book is fresh from the publisher and is based on Danielle LaPorte’s vbook called The Spark Kit. If you’re only buying one book on this list – make it this one! The book is every entrepreneurs dream, and it’s the only guide you’ll need if you have a small business – or dream of having one. Even if that’s not where you are right now – most of the principles in this book can be used on other areas of life too! This interactive book comes with a workbook, videos + lots of links. Seriously, I’m lost for words on how good this book really is. It has changed my life.

6) Finding Your Own North Star: Claiming the Life You Were Meant to Live – Martha Beck

I love how this book covers everything from emotional health to change cycles. The chapter on synchronicity is a must-read! Really, if you’re stuck, making changes, following your dream or want to learn more about yourself, this book is for you!

7) Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha – Tara Brach

This book is a great read if you want to learn more about self-love, acceptance and living life in peace with yourself. This is another book I think I finished in one day, and I even had to read with a pencil underlining everything I needed to remember. If you’re only reading one book on self-love: make it this one!

8 ) The Artist’s Way - Julia Cameron

This one’s for all the artists, creatives and writers (everyone, really) who have ever been stuck, lacked inspiration or who’ve just wanted to develop ourselves. Ever heard of “morning pages? The concept of writing a few pages first thing in the morning – it’s from this book! Written as a 12-week program, this book will help you create and craft. This is one of the books I read again and again.

9) Sabbath – Wayne Muller

I think everyone should read this book about finding rest in our busy lives. In particular, this book helped me realize that I’ll never get done. Which means that I need to make rest a priority right now, not wait until I’m finished with whatever I’m doing. This book is for anyone, no matter your religion. Read this today, you’ll thank me.

10) There’s nothing wrong with you – Cheri Huber

Another great book about self-love, but from a very different angle. This book is a really quick read, but it has changed me immensely (in a positive way). I think I finally realized that I’m worthy, just the way I am.

Have you read any of these? What are your favourite non-fiction books?

*Ps. the links in this post is affiliate links. If you buy something after clicking these links Amazon eventually gives me a gift certificate that I can use to buy even more awesome books. If you’re not comfortable with this, just google any book to go to Amazon or buy it from your preferred retailer. Thank you!

Categories: authors, Books | Tags: , , , , | 16 Comments »

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Make ‘Em Laugh

Apr 23, 2012

I am sometimes accused of being a cynic. I don’t mean to be; I just happen to value thinking through a situation from start to finish and being realistic. However, this weekend Husband had to remind me several times to look at the positive / keep on the sunny side / look for the silver lining, etc. etc. In that vein, I thought it may be a good idea to start this week off with a few laughs.

So, in the spirit of English Muse, I thought I’d share some of my favorite funny authors. One of the best books I’ve read in the past few months was Mindy Kaling’s “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?” Although, if you pick up this one up, be warned: you will giggle yourself silly! For this reason, I’d recommend you not read it in bed as it may disturb your bedmate. (A few other picks from some funny favorites: Sarah Vowell, Amy Sedaris & her brother, the very witty, David Sedaris)

Hope you have a *lovely* week!
xo* Hannah B.

Twitter  /  Facebook  / Pinterest

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Don’t you just love this picture of Princess Margaret?
It was taken by her husband which makes it even sweeter!
(image found via Pinterest)

It doesn’t matter what kind of day I’m having, there’s no way I’d rather relax than with a hot bath. Last week, when my husband was out of town, I stopped by the store on the way home and got the latest issue of Vanity Fair, a bottle of bubble bath, & a tub of vanilla ice cream. It didn’t make up for husband being out of town, but it definitely made the evening a lot better. I think Sylvia Plath would agree…

What about you? What are your must-haves for a good soak?

Towels  |  Soap  |   Salts  |  Candle  |  Robe

 

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You've done it again, Virginia.
To love good writing and the novel is to love Jane Austen. Even when harshly sweeping, her judgments are so elegantly put that they convince absolutely and seem to absolve those who share them of any hint of condescension. For example: “The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.”

Those of us who share that sentiment—and in this holiday reading month of August, who doesn’t?—still are excited by the recent auction at Sotheby’s in London of the last privately owned fragment of an Austen novel in the author’s own handwriting. It’s doubly delightful that the buyer was Oxford’s Bodleian Library, which paid $1.6 million for the 68 hand-cut pages that Austen herself bound into 11 small booklets, so the manuscript will remain in England, where it belongs. It will go on public display as early as this fall.

Another 12 pages of the abandoned novel, titled “The Watsons”, are in New York’s Pierpont Morgan Library. They were sold during World War I to raise money for the Red Cross. Austen worked on “The Watsons” in 1804 after completing early drafts of “Sense and Sensibility”, “Pride and Prejudice” and Northanger Abbey.” (Which is your favorite?)

“The Watsons’” narrator is a young woman who has returned home to her impoverished clergyman father after being raised by a wealthy aunt. The father dies, leaving the young woman and her sisters in very harsh straits—much as Austen’s own father would do the next year.

None of the author’s handwritten drafts of her finished novels survive, though we do have a handful of discarded chapters from “Persuasion” and the unpublished “Lady Susan”. What’s exciting about this manuscript is that it gives us the fullest picture of Austen the writer at work, editing words and phrases, inserting sentences, all in a tiny, wonderfully precise handwriting. All that’s missing is that magic that only a completed Jane Austen novel can bestow.

(Top illustration by Clare Owen)

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