March

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“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”  ― C.S. Lewis

For the first time since high school, I’m keeping a list of the books I’m reading or have read this year. It seems as if every single time I step into Strand, I pick up several of them. Yesterday, I purchased Lauren Elkin’s Flâneuse, Christopher Isherwood’s Prater Violet, and a selection of translated works by Pushkin, published by Random House in 1937. The best way to get me to read Russian classics I either haven’t read or memorized when I was three (and since have forgotten) is to get me to swallow the translations. Which is why, after seeing “Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812,” I decided on buying the unabridged War and Peace. (Also because I descended from two participants in the War of 1812 that get mentioned in the book: one a General and the other an Admiral.)

My previous purchases at the Strand were the aforementioned W&P, Funny Girl by Nick Hornby, and my now beloved Lafayette in the (Somewhat) United States by Sarah Vowell. Before I started reading the book, I’d ventured to Fraunces Tavern to see their Lafayette exhibit and just yesterday came across the Stuyvesant Fish House, which hosted Lafayette when he returned to the US in 1824.

All of these book purchases were kick started by one book — Provence, 1970 — which I read because I needed some time off the computer. I fell in love with the travel diary-type: the history, the anecdotes, the vivid descriptions. I wanted to escape into something well-written and thoughtfully put together, enough to ease my mind from the world around me. It worked, in the end, inspiring my own writing and making me want to see that part of the world, which my mother traveled to the year before. (My mother’s keen sense of direction and willingness to try anything and befriend anyone are traits to envy, especially on vacation in France where she doesn’t speak the language as well as she wants to.) I so desperately want to break out of my own shell, relax, and explore just as any flâneuse would.

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I’ve been in love with Kevin Garrett’s music since I discovered it several months back. Here, have a listen to his cover of James Vincent McMorrow’s “Cavalier”.

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