Here in Los Angeles, we've had the most glorious reading weather the past month. It's been a string of days waking up to gently falling rain which led to misty mornings reading with bright candles and hot coffee. The mornings became cozy afternoons organizing my library while listening for the tea kettle to whistle.
As I took the books from their color-coded homes, to lovingly dust the shelves, I was flooded with memories as I held each title. Memories of other lives, in other apartments, in other cities came back to life. Like the pages of a journal, each book held a piece of my life inside it.
Some books represent an entire season of life. The season that gave rise to the Paper & Glam we know today includes Simple Abundance, Cold Tangerines, and Love Does. Other titles hold very specific memories. When I hold Food, Women & God I think of sitting on the floor by the fireplace of my first apartment, unfurnished and newly built. Even books I didn't enjoy held tangible memories as I flipped through to find pictures and seasonal living lists from years past I used as bookmarks.
Those days are gone, but the books are still here holding their moments.
As I went through this two month process of organizing my library and deciding what titles have earned their place on my shelves, and which will go back into the world, I realized how my reading life has shaped every piece of the life I lead today.
Books capture entire places of time in our lives as we turn their pages. Then, like a time capsule, we open them some years later to find pieces of ourselves we left between their covers.
Rosanne Cash said, “Books find their way to you when you need them," and that's been my experience. When I walk into my library to choose what to read next, the book seems to choose me like they was just sitting there waiting for me to come to just this moment. When I read, there's almost always a line that changes the way I view the entire landscape of my life. I read for moments like that.
My library organization project is complete; except for the final task of donating a stack of books taller than I am. I've come away from this project wanting to create a dedicated record of my reading life.
I've invested in two Leuchtturm1917 hardcover journals: one blank lined journal and an ex-libris book review journal. The pink journal will record my favorite quotes and the black journal will hold my reviews and notes.
Before I walk through our year in books, let's briefly discuss the framework and heart behind the Paper & Glam Book Club.
How are the titles chosen each year?
Our reading list framework is a three-way split between classics, fiction, and non-fiction. In addition, the list includes a work of children's literature and a young adult title. This structure ensures whether you're a devoted fan of pop-culture phonemes, literary greats, or a student of the human experience, you're sure to meet a book you can't put down!
The goal of the Paper & Glam Book Club is to read both deeply into each title as well as widely into many genres, thus expanding our literary horizons while experiencing each book within the context of community. Each title on the reading list received many votes from the Paper & Glam reading community, and at least one glowing endorsement from a monthly book chatter who read it and savored every page.
Before I walk through our year in books, let's briefly discuss the framework and intention of the Paper & Glam Book Club.
How are the titles chosen each year?
Our reading list framework is a three-way split between classics, fiction, and non-fiction. In addition, the list includes a work of children's literature, a young adult title, and new this year, one book of poetry.
Whether you're a devoted fan of pop-culture phonemes, literary greats, or a student of the human experience, you're sure to meet a book you can't put down! You will encounter books that are both outside your comfort zone and a challenge for you to finish. The goal of the Paper & Glam Book Club is to read both deeply into each title as well as widely into many genres, thus expanding our literary horizons while experiencing each book within the context of community.
You will notice these titles are by no means the latest releases in the publishing world. This is by design. New releases are hot commodities, and therefore, difficult to procure at your local public library. Few pursuits enrich my life to the degree that avid reading does, and I want to ensure everyone is equipped to read along with an internet connection and library card.
If an advance screening of the best new books sure to pop-up on your social media feed is a priority, I cannot recommend the Book of the Month Club highly enough. A subset of the Paper & Glam Book Club joined for November, and we are discussing these titles informally on our Facebook group. If you're interested in joining us for this reading adventure as well, do so using this link and receive 30% off your membership and a book tote. Join by November 21st (Monday!) to jump in for November. Most of us chose The Trespasserfor November and plan to start reading it as soon as this month's study of Harper Lee is complete.
“Is there anything more satisfying than to keep abreast of the best new books of our time as they appear? In reading them, in enjoying them, in talking with others about them, we feel our day taking shape.” —Book of the Month Club founding statement, 1926
How do I join The Paper & Glam Book Club?
There are a few ways to get connected and read along:
Live Monthly Book Chat: Our main monthly event and connection point is the Book Club livestream. As in 2015 and 2016, Book Club is live the last Thursday of the month on P&G TV at 6 PM PST/9 PM EST (with the exception of November and December when we'll meet the third Thursday so we're reading around Thanksgiving and Christmas). Join us live and discuss the books along with our eight live chatters in real-time.
Facebook: Join the Book Club community on Facebook to discuss our monthly selections and all things reading-related. From reviews to memes, we've got reading covered. No spoilers allowed.
GoodReads: When you've finished our monthly book, join us in our GoodReads forum to share your thoughts with the group, spoilers welcome.
That's our 2017 set-up! Without further ado, please meet the 2017 Paper & Glam Book Club Reading List with a brief description of how each title fits in:
Here in Paperandglamland, we like to do things seasonally. This means January's read is a non-fiction motivational kick-starter to set our new year off with a bang. When Shonda Rhimes' book debuted this week a year ago, Katrina (one of our original live chatters entering her third year of service to Paper & Glam) assured me it absolutely must be 2017's January read. Since then, Year of Yes has been recommended by the readers in our community countless times, and I can't wait to crack the cover and start my 2017 of Yes.
When Glennon Doyle Melton released Carry On, Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, the title jumped off the virtual shelves right into my heart. I earmarked it for last year's reading list but cut it since we were non-fiction heavy. Now that Melton released her follow-up, Love Warrior, this is her year! As the publisher states, "Love Warrior is a gorgeous and inspiring account of how we are born to be warriors: strong, powerful, and brave; able to confront the pain and claim the love that exists for us all. This chronicle of a beautiful, brutal journey speaks to anyone who yearns for deeper, truer relationships and a more abundant, authentic life." Don't we all? Let's dive in.
It's a Paper & Glam tradition to start our spring with a fun thriller, so this March we're reading The Nest. When Katrina first introduced me to the Book of the Month Club, The Nest was a current selection. At the time I passed on joining, but this title followed me around until I gave in. Since I still can't open a web browser without seeing the cover, we might as well join 'em for a story of a trust fund in jeopardy endangering the futures of its four sibling beneficiaries. This is a tale, like its author, straight out of LA.
April is National Poetry month. This year we're celebrating by reading our first book of poetry together. If you're like me, you haven't read poetry since high school when assigned Robert Frost's The Road Not Taken. I've wanted to read Leaves of Grass since it featured prominently in The Notebook, so let's take our poetry to the park this spring and read Walt Whitman's American classic.
In July, the immutable Shauna Niequist is back with her latest! Let's learn to "live a life of meaning and connection instead of pushing for perfection. I'm tired of being tired, burned out on busy. And, it seemed, almost everyone I talked with was in the same boat: longing for connection, meaning, depth, but settling for busy." Sound familiar? Same here, sister.
Liane Moriarty's Big Little Lies, which we read together in August of 2015, remains one of the highest rated by Paper & Glam readers to date. Moriarty is back on the reading list with her latest novel of six intricately woven stories meeting to form one epic tale: Truly Madly Guilty.
In November, Cheryl Strayed returns. Remember when we read Wild in 2014 in preparation to see Reese play Cheryl in the movie adaptation?! I picked up this book in Strayed's home town of Portland at Powell's Books in 2015. It's been burning a hole in my bookshelf ever since. This collection of columns from Cheryl Strayed's time as the once-anonymous advice columnist Dear Sugar are a "balm for everything life throws our way." Since life has a way of serving up a new curveball in almost every season, I'm excited to read Cheryl's raw and real insights into our human condition.
Lastly, December's read is another seasonal compilation of holiday stories written by the beloved and best-selling young adult readers. Let's curl up by the fireplace and get cozy, we've got twelve reasons next Christmas to stay indoors and fall in love.
To keep us organized and accountable to turning pages together in 2017, I created a Paper & Glam Book Club Planner Kit. The planner kit includes the 2017 Reading List and matching planner stickers for each book in the line-up.