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On my Nighstand update

January 25th, 2010

 Here’s a little update for those who like to read.

As some of you know, a few weeks ago I was starving for a good book when I suddenly had a plethora of books to choose from. Maybe it was this abundance of books that has made me soo choosy, but I started reading two books this week and put them down. Actually since both are library books I returned them.

I loved Julie Kramer’s first book “Stalking Susan” but when I picked up her second book, “Missing Mark” I was bored to tears.

I don’t think I mentioned this in my last post, but I also received “In the Woods” by Tana French. I was haunted by her book “The Likeness” and still think about it, but this one just didn’t grab me. I got to page 34 or so and decided I just didn’t want to read a book that began with the murder of a girl. I’ve read enough of those and, in fact, written enough true stories as a journalist about this to have had my share for awhile. In addition, the storyline and main character wasn’t as compelling to me as the heroine in The Likeness.

So those two books were returned to the library without me finishing them.

On a happier note, I finished and adored “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins and eagerly await the sequel. I am very far down a list at the library to receive it.

I also really enjoyed Zoe Heller’s “The Believers.”

I just started “Sarah’s Key” which was on my nighstand in my earlier post and so far so good.

Any good reads you would recommend?

So far in the past year, I would have to say these are my all-time favorite books I have read:

(Keep in mind I do have a bad memory and these are just ones I remember off the top of my head.)

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

The Likeness by Tana French

The Twilight series (yep, all of them) by Stephanie Meyer

*** Today I am heading to the library to pick up a copy being held of Nina Garcia’s The Style Strategy, a less-is-more approach to staying chic and shopping smart. I really liked her Little Black Book of Style, so this should be fun.

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  1. Marsi
    January 25th, 2010 at 19:45 | #1

    I’m reading Orwell’s “1984” and loving it.

  2. BethG
    January 25th, 2010 at 19:55 | #2

    Every chance I get, I give the highest recommendation for Kazuo Ishiguro’s “Never Let Me Go.” It’s one of the most thought-provoking books I’ve ever read. Last year I read Tracy Chevalier’s “Burning Bright.” I really like her historical fiction. Because I love the TV show Mad Men, I read Richard Yates “Revolutionary Road” but was a little disappointed. Mark Twain’s “Joan of Arc” is also a great read.

  3. January 25th, 2010 at 20:31 | #3

    Recently for my book group: “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett, “Zeitoun” by Dave Eggers, and “Cutting for Stone” by Abraham Verghese

  4. January 25th, 2010 at 22:04 | #4

    Thanks for the recommendations… I just read The Piano Teacher and loved it- doing a review of it shortly.

  5. January 26th, 2010 at 11:39 | #5

    I just read the Style Strategy as I too enjoyed Nina’s prior books. I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts.

    • January 26th, 2010 at 12:23 | #6

      Thanks everyone for the book recommendations. I have written them down in my “to read” list.
      Eurochic, I guess I thought Style Strategy was a little lightweight and really advice I’ve heard a million times in other ways. I was glad I just checked it out from the library, because it isn’t a book I would keep. I did, however, like how she advocated for fewer skin products and inxpensive cosmetics …

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What is it about those Italian women? You know the ones I’m talking about: beautiful, sexy, dressed to the nines just to take the kids to the park. They have a certain something that is indefinable. It is in the way they dress, the way they prepare their meals, the way they spend their leisure time.

It is because they know the importance of la bella figura. Roughly translated from Italian, it means putting you best foot forward in everything you do. It means cutting a beautiful figura. The opposite of la bella figura is la brutta figura, which is what someone might say about the falling down drunken guy at the party or the super tackily dressed woman at church. It means ugly figure.

La bella figura is much more than your appearance. It goes much deeper than that. It is about how you act. It is about how you treat others. It is about how you care for yourself, your home and your family. Living a life in line with la bella figura doesn’t take money. In fact, it is more about how to have class without a lot of money.

Someone who exudes la bella figura will have clean, pressed clothes and be well groomed. They will not be rude or sloppy. Their fingernails will be impeccably groomed. Their hair shiny and clean and their shoes will be polished. They will not have stray threads hanging from their suit hems. They will not be driving a car in need of the car wash.

La bella figura means driving that 15 year old car and meticulously cleaning it and caring for it. It means keeping your belongings in good repair. It means taking time to clean your house and not cluttering it up with meaningless objects.

When you focus all your spare energy, time and money on the things that bring you the most amount of pleasure, then you are truly living a life in line with la bella figura. The best part about it is that you don’t have to be Italian to do so. You just have to think like an Italian.

Italian children are raised to present la bella figura in whatever they do. From the time they are small and are groomed perfectly to attend church or school, they know that appearances count. They count because it is the first thing people judge about you. That first impression does matter. Appearances are also important because when you take the time to look nice, you are showing that you care about yourself. When you care enough to look good, it shows you have good healthy self esteem. Nothing is more attractive than self confidence.

In addition, dressing nice also shows respect for others. If you invite people over for dinner and greet them in flip flops, baggy sweats and a stained shirt, it is really disrespectful to them. The same if you dress sloppy to go to church or even to the market. By dressing nicely and being well groomed, you show respect for everyone in your world.

Having la bella figura means presenting yourself in the best light possible in all your interactions.